Just like there is an increased fear when somebody is at the top of a tower/building, so there is increased fear the higher one’s position is in a social organization. A friend was telling me how her store manager gave a customer a replacement plant even though it was obviously neglected and they had no proof that it was purchased at their store. She reported that the manager did this because negative customer comments will prevent him from getting a financial bonus.
The store manager decides that the store losing $15 on the plant so that both he and the complaining customer can be satisfied is a rational way to operate. The complaining customer gets what they want and the manager keeps his reputation clean and bonus intact. Obviously it is the fear of losing his financial bonus that is driving his behavior.
So, we now have two people benefiting at the shared expense of all others. The victims, the thousands of others customers who subsidize this action through the higher prices they pay, are unaware that the customer is getting a plant they don’t deserve. It is not fair, but I would argue that it likely happens far more than we would care to entertain.
Sadly, the same thing happens in the public sector where managers and politicians are driven by fear to use tax revenues to appease the few at the expense of the many. It is fear that drives overt behaviors such protecting one’s constituency seat to the subtle behaviors of avoiding unpleasant emotions during a day’s work. The true victims of all of these situations are the millions of clueless and faceless taxpayers, who pay for the system to operate, but are unaware that the fear of social heights is what drives up costs, increases our taxes, and leads to bad outcomes.