Agentic State and Legitimacy of Authority

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  • Agentic State and Legitimacy of Authority
    • Legitimacy of Authority
      • A P who is perceived to be in a position of social control
      • The authority is responsible for the actions + they define the actions that occur
      • If commands are seen to be harmful then they must come from an institution e.g. military or uni
      • However, in Milgram's study the experiment took place in a run down building + PPL were obedient
      • A place may not have to be an institution but be run by an instuitution
    • Agentic State
      • A P sees themself as an agent for carrying out another P's wishes
      • These PPL feel less responsibility for their actions + are more likely to carry on
      • Self-image: when an action isn't their responsibility it doesn't reflect on their self-image
      • Factors: The Ps would have to break off the experiments which would be rude so they feel a need to carry on
    • Following Orders
      • Lt William Calley ordered the murder of civilians in Vietnam
      • The men carried out the orders and killed over 500 villagers
      • Another example is the Holocaust
      • Milgram believed that the agentic shift happened + the blame was passed along
      • Calley did not accept responsibility for his actions + said that he was following the orders of his Captain
    • Evaluation
      • Real-life obedience: Undoubting obedience to authority that is harmful can be seen in military training
      • Just cruel: In the SPE guards did not have a specific authority telling them what to do
      • Loss of personal control: more obedience + bystander apathy can link to a loss of personal control
      • Real-life obedience: Lifton studied German doctors in Auschwitz who went from doctors to PPL who carried out horrific  experiments
      • Obedience in the cockpit: In 19 of 37 plane accidents the co-pilot said nothing when the pilots actions looked risky


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