First Principles & Observations:
Destructive capacity and coercive force are correlated positively: i.e. the greater one’s ability to inflict destruction, the more one can influence a person’s actions, e.g. people will attempt to appease you more if they fear injury than if they do not, and more still if they fear death.
At first, demonstrated destructive capacity has a greater coercive effect than potential destructive capacity; people react more strongly to an actual injury than to a threat of an identical injury (perhaps due to habituation to the low-level capacity for destruction shared by all humans i.e. Anybody can become violent under the correct circumstances? Further investigation needed.)
As destructive capacity increases, coercive force increases whether the capacity is demonstrated or not; however, demonstration is subject to diminishing returns, as after a certain point, resources that would be exploitable become unusable (Dead guys don’t give you their stuff.) The threat of destruction is not affected in this way.
As perceived destructive capacity increases, potential destructive capacity overtakes demonstrated destructive capacity in usefulness, reaching a point where a threat is more useful than actual action taken. (Can fear be a more effective stimulus than pain? Consider 20th century Mutually Assured Destruction scenarios, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, dudes talking smack in general.) Potential applications include the ability to replace current, dangerous endeavors involving demonstrations of destructive capacity with comparatively safe threats to demonstrate same.
Approach the subject of the experiment, That Asshole Carlo. Using the Plasma Coil, my imposing demeanor, and my previously established reputation for violence, induce a high state of perceived destructive capacity for coercive purposes (i.e. threaten him until he pays up). According to this theory, actual destruction of the subject, in whole or in part, will prove unnecessary.
However, the Plasma Coil will be on hand should the subject prove uncooperative.