Explanations of Obedience

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  • Explanations of Obedience
    • Situational Factors
      • Proximity
        • The physical closeness or distance of an authority figure. When Milgram gave instructions over the phone, only 21% continued to the max level.
      • location
        • The place where the order is given can affect obedience. When Milgram moved his study to a run-down office, obedience dropped slightly to 48%
      • The Power of Uniform
        • Uniform can affect obedience as it conveys power and authority
        • Bushmann found 72% conformity rate when the women was wearing a police uniform, 48% as a business executive and 52% as a beggar
      • Holfing et al found 21/22 nurses followed orders to give a lethal injection from a doctor over the phone.
    • The Agentic State
      • Moving from an autonomous state (where you see yourself responsible for you actions) into an agentic state, when you see yourself as a agent carrying out someone else's wishes
      • Binding Factors - subject fears that if he doesn't follow orders he will appear as arrogant and rude.
      • Blass and Schmitt found when people were shown film of Milgram's study, they blamed the experimenter and believed the pp's were agents of authority
      • Someone with an authoritarian personality is more likely to obey. This shows there is alternative reasons to why people obey
    • Legitimacy of Authority
      • Although it is the pp who is performing the action, they allow the authority figure to define it's meaning
      • Requires an institution to perceive the commands as legitimate
      • Milgram's study and Hofling et al's supports this idea.
      • Can explain cultural differences, Mantell found 85% obedience in German pp's and Kilham and Mann found only 16% in Australia when replicating Milgram's study.
    • The Dispositional Explanation
      • Authoritarian Personality - rigid thinkers, saw the world as black and white. The F scale was used to measure this
      • Elms and Milgram's follow up study found little difference between obedient & defiant pp's but there was higher levels of authoritarianism among pp's classified as obedient.
      • Many of the obedient pp's reported having a good relationship with their parents instead of growing up in a strict family so the link between authoritarian personality and harsh parenting remains questionable


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