Proof Entitled People Think Rules Don’t Apply

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Know someone who acts entitled?

An interesting study was recently released in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science that suggests entitled people are less likely to follow instructions, mostly because they think the instructions as an unfair imposition on themselves.

“The fact that there are a lot of complaints these days about having to deal with entitled students and entitled employees, suggests the need for a solution,” said Dr. Emily Zitek from Cornell University, the study’s author.

Using six different experiments, investigators assessed who was more likely to avoid following instructions in a word search.

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After establishing that participants who scored high on measures of entitled personality were less likely to follow instructions, they administered a set of scenarios with the goal of trying to understand why these people believed they didn’t have to do as asked.

As part of the study, researchers tested for different traits – like being selfish. They even suggested they would penalize participants who didn’t follow the directions.

Low and behold, the participants scoring high on entitlement still wouldn’t follow the instructions. As mentioned in the study, researchers were genuinely perplexed at how hard it was to get these folks to comply with rules.

Said, Zitek: “We thought that everyone would follow instructions when we told people that they would definitely get punished for not doing so, but entitled individuals still were less likely to follow instructions than less entitled individuals.”

The findings may offer helpful insight for supervisors, teachers, and organizational leaders who regularly deal with group dynamics.

“A challenge for managers, professors, and anyone else who needs to get people with a sense of entitlement to follow instructions is to think about how to frame the instructions to make them seem fairer or more legitimate,” said Zitek.

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Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast