When cohesiveness is low or lacking entirely, compliance out of fear of recrimination is likely to be strongest.

I do not understand the bold part, because of the word "out". Does "out" belongs to "compliance" or "fear"? (In other words, is it "compliance out" of fear or compliance "out of fear"?)

  • 2
    This explanation of "out of" might help until someone gets a chance to write a proper answer. used as a function word to indicate origin, source, or cause. "a remarkable colt out of an ordinary mare" / "built out of old lumber" / "fled out of fear" – ColleenV parted ways Nov 10 '17 at 12:59


compliance "out of fear"

@ColleenV's comment is helpful. To help understand what "out" means in this context, substitute it for "because":

compliance "because of fear"

It sounds a little awkward, but it gets the general meaning across.

I'd synonymize your phrase, "compliance out of fear of recrimination" as:

The primary (or sole) reason for their compliance is their fear of recrimination.

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