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Abstract

The current work presents two complementary programs of research that aim to: (i) clarify the psychological mechanisms governing perceptions of legitimate authority; (ii) examine how US Presidential election outcomes may significantly impact these perceptions; (iii) provide empirical evidence consistent with the notion that such perceptions of legitimate authority can have significant, causal effects on ethical and political behavior. Part I examines the effect of election outcomes on perceptions of corruption – (i) examining the implications of these findings for perception-based indices of good governance; and, (ii) establishing a robust predictive relationship between perceived corruption and willingness to cheat on the individual level. Part II builds upon these findings and looks at tax-compliance as a case study to test whether election outcomes causally influence people’s willingness to meet their tax obligations. It is then argued that these election-based effects can be understood as evidence consistent with theories hypothesizing a link between perceived legitimacy and voluntarily compliance with the law.

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