Obedience

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  • Obedience
    • a type of social influence whereby someone acts in response to a direct order from an authority figure
    • Stanley Milgram
      • 40 male volunteers were told they were part of an experiment to do with punishment and learning
        • all teachers went to 300V, 65% went to 450V
        • when the learner was silent throughout, 100% went to 450V
        • when the teacher only read the words and a confederate gave the shocks, 92.5% went to 450V
        • teachers were ordered to give learners (confederates) shocks for wrong answers. shocks ranged from 15V to 450V
          • verbal prods were used to encourage participants to continue
        • when the study was performed in a run down office block, 48% went to 450V
        • when the learner was in the same room as the teacher, 40% went to 450V
        • when the teacher forces the learner's hand on the shock plate, 30% went to 450V
        • when the experimenter was not present and only phoned orders in, 20.5% went to 450V
        • when there was disobedient allies, 10% went to 450V
        • when the experimenter appeared to be an ordinary member of the public, 20% went to 450V
      • the aim was to test is Germans are more obedient, to explain the atrocities during WW2
      • the test in America was just a pilot stud
      • 3 explanations for obedience
        • Agentic State
          • Milgram proposed we have 2 states of consciousness
            • the autonomous state: where we are fully aware of what we are doing and feel responsible for our actions
            • the agentic state: where we stop feeling responsible for what we are doing and become an 'agent' of an authority figure
          • Milgram's participants were put into an agentic state when the experimenter gave prods to the teacher and took away some responsibility
          • Blass and Schmidt showed student a film of Milgram's study and asked them who they felt was responsible for the harm of the learner - most said the experimenter
          • during the Holocaust there were high levels of obedience resulting in the mass genocide of 6 million Jews as the Nazi's followed Hitler's orders
        • Legitimacy of Authority
          • people are most likely to accept power and status of a person and obey them if they appear to be credible and legitimate
          • during the Holocaust there were high levels of obedience resulting in the mass genocide of 6 million Jews as the Nazi's followed Hitler's orders
        • Situational Variables
          • Proximity
            • the physical closeness of the authority figure to the person they are giving the order to tend to increase obedience
            • the physical closeness of the teacher to the learner tends to decrease obedience
          • location
            • the experiment had less authority in a run down building so obedience decreased
          • uniform
            • when the experimenter was replaced by "an ordinary member of the public" (so no lab coat) obedience decreased
            • during the Holocaust there were high levels of obedience resulting in the mass genocide of 6 million Jews as the Nazi's followed Hitler's orders
      • reliable because Milgram only changed one factor at a time
      • Bickman conducted a field experiment in New York where he had confederates dress up as a milkman, security guard or in a jacket and tie. he had them ask members of the public to do things like pick up litter
        • he found the security guard was obeyed most and milkman was obeyed least
    • Theodor Adorno
      • Authoritarian personality
        • this is a dispositional explanation for obedience, which states certain personality traits are associated with higher levels of obedience
          • disposition is someone's natural, mental and emotional outlook or mood
      • the fascism scale
        • questionnaire with 30 questions that asses 9 personality dimensions
        • tried to measure the unconscious attitudes towards other racial groups using 2000 middle class white Americans
          • found those who were measured as having an authoritarian personality were generally thought of as 'strong' people who held the 'weak' in contempt, were conscious of their own and others' status and showed excessive respect of those of higher status
      • said personality is shaped by upbringing
        • suggested certain ways of parenting created adults who were unable to express their emotions. these methods were very rigid and hierarchal
      • Zillmer found 16 Nazi war criminals scored highly on 3 of the F-scale personality dimensions but not all 9 as predicted. this means we can question if the authoritarian personality is real
      • Elms used fully obedient participants from Milgram's experiment and gave them the F-scale. he found a strong positive correlation that people who are obedient score highly on the F-scale
      • Jost found the authoritarian personality is motivated by thought processes which underpin a desire to reduce fears and anxieties that social change brings. therefore strict obedience helps to prevent disruptive social change. this suggests people are only obedience to survive rather than being a faschist

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