Right to Restrict? A study of legitimacy as a driver of hard paternalistic interventions.
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- Master Thesis 
In this thesis, I study the effect of legitimacy on people’s willingness to implement a hard paternalistic intervention towards another person. In an incentivised experiment, participants decide whether to restrict the freedom of a stakeholder to prevent said stakeholder from making a mistake. I vary participants’ sense of legitimacy along two dimensions: whether they have been given positive feedback on their performance on a set of cognitive tasks (merit), and whether they have been assigned a leader role in relation to the stakeholder in question (leadership). I find that people become less willing to implement the hard paternalistic intervention after being assigned a leadership role. I do not find significant effects of receiving positive feedback on performance on people’s willingness to intervene. My results shed light on how paternalistic preferences may change depending on the degree of hierarchy in interpersonal relationships. Thus, they offer insights into paternalistic motivation in a wide range of hierarchical interpersonal relationships throughout society, such as those between employers and their employees, doctors and their patients, lawyers and their clients or parents and their children.