The Gemara (Shabbos 142b) relates that although Abaye was of the opinion that it is permitted to carry sheaves of harvested grain on Shabbos, he nevertheless refrained from doing so unless he first placed a ladle on the sheave.
Why did he hold it is permitted to carry sheaves? Although the grain they contain must undergo much processing before it is edible, the stalks of which the sheaves are comprised can serve here and now as mats upon which a person may lay down.
Why then did he refrain from doing so? Because he was a distinguished person. Hence, his conduct would serve as a model that other people might emulate. Therefore, lest other people draw erroneous conclusions and potentially treat prohibitions leniently, Abaye conducted himself stringently and refrained from carrying the sheaves outright.
The Gemara then cites Rava’s similar conduct in another case involving the laws of Shabbos.
On the basis of this passage and other, similar Gemaras, Yad Malachi (Klalei ha’Alef #6) rejects the assertion of Be’er Sheva (fol. 110d) that it is only in regard to the law that forbids dishes cooked by non-Jews (Bishul Akum) that a distinguished person must maintain a higher standard (Be’er Sheva contends that this is due to the unique distance from “non-kosher” food that is the essence of this prohibition.) Indeed, in his notes to Yad Malachi (ad loc.), R’ Yeshaya Pick notes that he found fourteen laws besides the law of Bishul Akum in which the principle that a distinguished person should maintain a higher standard is invoked.
Hence, writes Yad Malachi, a scholar must refrain from activities — that are perfectly permissible for other people — when they touch upon any area of Halacha in which a prohibition may apply. He explains that this is because of a fact of human nature expounded by Talmud Yerushalmi in Moed Kattan (cited by Ritva to Moed Kattan 2a), that people is are more likely to interpret what they see erroneously and draw distorted conclusions than to intepret what they see correctly and draw accurate conclusion.