Theories Of Obedience

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Rebellious Compliance to Authority Obedience to authority is a theme that has intrigued many socio-psychologists throughout the decades, especially in the 20th century. Obedience is the basic structure that holds societies together. For many people, obedience is a deeply ingrained behavior that overrides training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct. Many notable socio-psychologists have studied obedience and how it affects a person’s psyche. Solomon E. Asch (1953) was interested in how group pressure influenced an individual’s thoughts and actions while Stanley Milgram (1963) wanted to know if subjects were willing and able to compromise their morality and empathy towards others while under orders from an authoritative figure. Philip …show more content…
Milgram took a slightly different approach and focused on how a figure of authority can influence an individual’s thoughts and actions (1963). Milgram’s experiment coerced subjects to not only continue with an unethical experiment, but to also harm others to the point of possible death. Subjects were willing to violate their morality and ignore their empathy towards others in order to be accepted by the authority figure. Powell and Drucker’s subjects ignored the possible consequences of their situation, Asch’s subjects lied to themselves, while Milgram’s subjects hurt others. The subjects allowed themselves to go against what they believed to be reasonable and moral because they didn’t want to be ostracized by the …show more content…
For example, Asch tested whether or not individuals would stand up for what they believed was right, or if they would choose to lie about the length of the lines in order to remain in good standing with the group (1953). Most of Asch’s subjects chose to go along with the majority and denied what their senses told them. Asch concluded that when people are under pressure to conform, they relinquish their individuality and consensus for compliance and are willing to lie to both themselves and others in order to conform to the majority. Powell and Drucker’s subjects also violated their morality by entering the vehicle even while knowing that it was illegal to drive while intoxicated and that it was unsafe for both themselves, the driver, and those around them (1997). Furthermore, Milgram wanted to find out how many of his subjects would put aside their own sense of morality and harm another person in order to please the experimenter (1963). Professionals predicted that only 4% of participants would reach 300 volts and were proven wrong when 63% of participants reached the full 450 volts (Milgram, 1963, p. 696). When the subjects came to view themselves as the instrument for carrying out the experimenter’s wishes, they no longer considered themselves responsible for their actions and they focused on how well they completed their duty instead of the consequences of their actions (Milgram, 1963).

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