Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology






Monopoly (Game)



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 81 [i.e. 75] leaves, ill. 28 cm.)


The Monopoly Study of Authority was an institutional grant project designed to test the variables of authority and protection in a laboratory experiment conducted in the Small Groups Laboratory. Subjects (Ss) were recruited and paid a minimum wage to play Monopoly, while the Experimenter (E) manipulated the relevant variables, observed and video-taped the games.

The hypothesis states that the greater the investment, the more likely will the individual make efforts to protect it. The dimensions of investment were ego involvement (desire to win, competitiveness), and resource commitment (Ss were offered rewards of double-time pay for winning the Monopoly game). Efforts to protect the investment were expected to take the form of personal authority, whereby Ss would overrule or otherwise ignore written rules/or rule changes instigated by E; or, delegated authority, whereby the Ss would accept E and/or the written rules

as the legitimate authority over the game.

Various and sundry administrative, technical and design problems resulted in the decision to prepare a research chronicle to provide a fuller accounting of investigative activity and to document the role of the circumstantial, the irrational, and nonrational, as well as the systematic logic and specific methodology of the research process.

While the development of the research chronicle is well grounded in the work of William F. Whyte' s famous Appendix, the most useful rationale for this project was provided by Phillip E. Hammond's collection of chronicles, Sociologists at Work. This presentation is organized around the sequence of events in time and the sequence of ideas in the mind of E.

The chronologic form is compatible with the underlying methodological approach of the project based on Barney G. Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss' work, The Discovery of Ground Theory, wherein theory is understood to emerge from data and the notion of theory as process is presented, the research process was loosely structured, each day's design emerging from the previous experimental session. This methodology allowed that questions peripheral to the initial hypothesis could be examined, and, in fact, a follow-up questionnaire study is presented in Appendix D. The discussion of the chronicle form and the methodology of grounded theory comprises Section One of this thesis.

To conduct the actual experiments chronicled in Section Two, five, four person Monopoly sessions were scheduled. Ss were recruited on the basis of sex and affectual relationship. The Trial Session consisted of two males and two females instructed to play "ordinary Monopoly." The session was video-taped, and from the resultant tapes a demonstration

tape was prepared documenting S sensitivity to the laboratory situation. In Session I the Ss were required to play Monopoly 'strictly according to the written rules,' attempting to create an external authority condition. In Session II E instituted "Barry's Rule," an arbitrary variant of the basic income rule in Monopoly. This design change was intended to enhance a condition of arbitrary, external authority in the form of E's created rule. In addition, the Ss were advised that the winner would be paid double-time. Session III repeated the double-time pay for winners condition, and Session IV was cancelled.

All the sessions were videotaped, and all the tapes were reviewed. However, no adequate coding system was developed, and no quantitative data was produced. Impressionistic analysis, fortunately, afforded several useful interpretations which are cited in Section Three. Firstly, the double-time incentive did not create an investment condition, most likely because the reward (paid by check, several weeks later) was too abstract and too small ($12.00). "Barry's Rule" condition did elicit a strong negative response from the Ss, but also netted compliance.

Section Four presents an "ideal" research design, thus rounding out the thesis from a chronicle of a research process, to an examination of the results, to the articulation of an approved design


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Portland State University. Department of Sociology

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