Psychology (Social Influence.) Mind Map on Obedience., created by Stephanie Price on 05/28/2013.
Stephanie Price
Mind Map by Stephanie Price, updated more than 1 year ago
Stephanie Price
Created by Stephanie Price over 10 years ago

Resource summary

  1. Obedience to authority has a positive and a negative side.
    1. On the positive side, people obey laws of society, authority figures (E.g. Police etc), and orders or instructions which seem sensible and reasonable.
      1. Obedience in this context is essential to the smooth running of society, and if people did not obey, chaos and disorder would quickly develop.
      2. On the negative side, obedience can be destructive and result in terrible crimes.
        1. There are plenty of examples from history where one group of people has killed another group as a result of obedience to orders given by high-ranking army officers or government officials.
          1. E.g. Nazi Germany, The Bosnians and the Serbs in Eastern Europe and the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.
      3. Explanations of Obedience.
        1. Kelman and Hamilton (1989) suggest 3 main facotors to explain obedience, and destructive obedience in particular.
          1. Legitimacy of the System.
            1. This concerns the extent to which a government, army, religious group or even family is a legitimate source of authority. Where one or more of these is seen by the individual to be a legitimate source of authority, obedience to the system will be high. When the system is not seen as legitimate, obedience will be low.
              1. E.g. If a car driver does not believe the law penalising drivers for using a mobile phone while driving is right or legitimate, that driver may risk the penalty and use the mobile phone while driving.
                1. In Milgrams experiment, as it was carried out at the highly prestigious psychology department at Yale University, it is most likely that the participants saw the setting as legitimate and believed that, in the university, harm to another would not take place.
              2. Legitimacy of Authority Within the System.
                1. This is the power individuals hold to give orders because of their position in the system.
                  1. E.g. The prime minister in government or a general in the army would have a high degree of legitimacy.
                    1. Where someone attempts to give orders but is not seen to be in a position to do so, obedience to the orders will be low.
                      1. In the Milgram study, the experimenters wore white coats to make them look like scientists. This gave them legitimacy of authority in the eyes of the participants.
                  2. Legitimacy of Demands or Orders Given.
                    1. This refers to the extent to which the order is perceived to be a legitimate area for the authority figure.
                      1. E.g. If the prime minister tried to order people not to eat meat because he was a vegetarian, you would be unlikely to regard the order as legitimate.
                        1. In the Milgram study, the participant in the role of the teacher was repeatedly asked and told to continue in the name of science, and that the experiment demanded that they continue. Hence, the order to continue, even when the participant wanted to stop, can be seen as legitimate because of the setting and the belief we have in the legitimacy of science.
                    2. Also, the Milgram study physically separated the participant (teacher) from the learner. While participants heard the learner express sounds of distress, this was not actually seen by the participant.
                      1. When the participant is in close proximity to the learner, obedience levels drop dramatically.
                    3. Situational Factors Affecting Obedience.
                      1. Milgram (1974) investigated various situational factors affecting obedience in his classic teacher-learner experiment. These include legitimacy of authority, proximity of the learner, proximity of the experimenter, conflicting orders and gender differences. In all, Milgram conducted 18 experiments using the basic teacher-learner set-up.
                        1. The legitimacy of the system and authority was varied by conducting the experiment in a run-down office in a less respectable part of town.
                          1. This 'low legitimacy' experiment resulted in lower levels of obedience. Just 48% of participants delivered the maximum shock.
                          2. The legitimacy of the authority figure, the experimenter, was varied by allowing another casually dressed participant to give orders to the teacher to carry on, rather than the experimenter dressed in a white laboratory coat.
                            1. Here, obedience dropped to just 20% giving the maximum shock.
                            2. The proximity of the learner was varied by placing the teacher and the learner in the same room.
                              1. Here, obedience dropped to 40% giving the maximum shock.
                                1. When the teacher had to put the hand of the learner on a metal place to deliver the electric shock, obedience dropped to 30%.
                                  1. In another experiment, the experimenter left the room after giving the teacher instructions on what to do. Here, obedience dropped to 20%.
                                    1. Where 2 experimenters were present with the teacher and one instructed the participant to continue and the other to stop, obedience dropped dramatically, with no one giving the maximum shock.
                                    2. The proximity of the authority figure or experimenter also affected levels of obedience.
                                      1. When the experimenter was not in the same room as the participant, but gave orders over the telephone, obedience was reduced to about 20%.
                                        1. When the experimenter did not order the participant to continue but made it clear that the participant could leave at any time, only 2.5% continued to give the highest level of shock.
                                    3. Dispositional Factors Affecting Obedience.
                                      1. In considering dispositional factors that may explain why people obey authority, we are concerned with the question of whether or not particular personality types are associated with high and low levels of obedience.
                                        1. The authoritarian personality is most commonly associated with obedience to authority.
                                          1. Adorno and his colleagues (1950) put forward the idea of an authoritarian personality.
                                            1. They described it as a person who submits to the authority of those in a higher position (this may be due to status or power) and is authoritarian with those of lower status or power.
                                              1. Someone with an authoritarian personality is characterised by excessive and blind obedience to authority.
                                              2. Adorno was originally concerned with constructing a questionnaire to measure anti-Semitism, and developed an attitude questionnaire which became known as the F-Scale ('F' standing for fascist).
                                                1. This measures different aspects of personality - such as conventionalism, preoccupation with power, puritanical sexual attitudes and superstition - which were all thought to be different components of the authoritarian personality.
                                              3. It offers an obvious explanation of obedience to authority since you would expect people with an authoritarian personality both to obey the orders they are given, and to expect others to obey orders.
                                              4. A more recent attempt to link personality and obedience to authority is the idea of social dominance, put forward by Sidanius and Pratto (1999).
                                                1. A person is said to have high social dominance when he or she wants their own group to be better and more dominant than another group or groups.
                                                  1. People with high social dominance will therefore tend to reject the views of others and want their own view to prevail.
                                                    1. In the Milgram study, seeing yourself as a member of a scientific group or a member of a sub-cultural group would mean that you are most likely to obey orders from people you see as belonging to that group.
                                              5. Defiance of Authority.
                                                1. Some variations to Milgram's study resulted in low levels of obedience.
                                                  1. E.g. Shabby building/bad area, experimenter not in the room, learner physically in same room as the participant (teacher).
                                                  2. When individuals are reminded that they are responsible for the consequences of what they do and of the harm that may be caused, research has shown significant reductions in obedience (Hamilton 1978).
                                                    1. Research has also shown that if participants in a study of obedience watch another person acting disobediently, then levels of obedience will be low (Rochat and Modigliani 1995).
                                                      1. The idea of informational social influence may be used to explain conditions under which people might defy authority or resist destructive obedience.
                                                        1. When a person is not sure of what to do in a social situation, the influence of another person may be great.
                                                          1. In the Milgram study, the participant is in the role of the teacher. This is a highly unusual situation for most people and therefore one in which they would tend not to be confident about how to behave in an appropriate way. Hence the experimenter, as an authority figure giving the orders provides strong social information about what to do.
                                                            1. Where the credibility of the authority figure is in doubt, informational social influence is less and the participant relies more on his or her own moral judgement about whether or not it is right to continue.
                                                              1. In circumstances where informational social influence is low, obedience to authority is also likely to be low.
                                                          2. Similar reasoning may also be applied to normative social influence.
                                                            1. Where the experimenter and the setting for the experiment are seen to be legitimate (experimenter wears white coat and the setting is in a university), normative pressures to obey authority will be high.
                                                              1. Normative pressures are low where legitimacy is questioned (casually dressed experimenter and shabby building/bad area), resulting in low levels of obedience to authority.
                                                          3. Research Study: Feldman and Scheibe (1972).
                                                          4. Milgram's Classic Study of Obedience.
                                                            1. Milgram conducted a series of highly controversial studies in the 1960s (Milgram 1963, 1965, 1974), investigating obedience to authority. The studies explored the effect of a range of factors on levels of obedience.
                                                              1. Milgram recruited participants by placing advertisements in local newspapers, asking for volunteers to take part in an experiment on learning.
                                                                1. 1). Volunteers were told that the experiment required one person to act as a 'teacher' and another person to act as a 'learner'. Participants each drew a piece of paper from a hat to assign the role of teacher and learner. In reality, this was fixed so that the true volunteer, or participant, was always assigned to the role of teacher, and the other person, who was a confederate of Milgram's, to the role of learner.
                                                              2. 2). It was explained to the teacher that they had to read a series of word pairs (such as 'blue-girl', 'fat-neck') to the learner. Subsequently, the teacher had to read the first word of the pair and the learner had to choose the correct second word of the pair from a list of a few words.
                                                                1. 3). The teacher was told that, if the learner responded with the wrong word, the teacher had to give the learner an electric shock. This continued over many sets of word pairs, and each time the learner gave a wrong answer, the teacher was told they had to give an electric shock of increasing intensity.
                                                                2. 4). A sophisticated piece of equipment, with a long line of switches and lights, was place in front of the teacher, allowing them to see what the next level of electric shock should be. On the front panel of the equipment was a voltage scale running from 150 to 450 volts, with an indication of the severity of shock.
                                                                  1. 15-60 volts: slight shock. 75-120 volts: moderate shock. 135-180 volts: strong shock. 195-240 volts: very strong shock. 255-300 volts: intense shock. 315-360 volts: extremely intense shock. 375-420 volts: danger, severe shock. 425-450 volts: XXX.
                                                                  2. 5). Prior to beginning the experiment, the teacher was given a sample shock of 45 volts (quite painful). The learner (a confederate of Milgram's) did not actually receive any shocks during the experiment, but the teacher did not know this.
                                                                    1. The teacher would see the learner being 'wired up' and would be told that he had complained of a weak heart. Milgram would encourage the teacher to shock by saying 'Please Go On' or 'The Experiment Requires That You Continue' or 'You Have No Other Choice, You Must Go On'.
                                                                    2. Before conducting the series of experiments, Milgram asked psychiatrists, students and middle-class adults the shock level at which they thought the teachers would refuse to go on.
                                                                      1. All said they would refuse beyond 195-240 volts. 80% said beyond 135-180 volts.
                                                                        1. 63% delivered maximum shock.
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