Obedience: Social-Psychological Factors

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  • Social-Psychological Factors
    • Agentic State
      • A mental state where we feel no personal responsibility for our behaviour because we believe ourselves to be acting for an authority figure.
        • Binding Factors - excuses we give ourselves to minimise the damaging effects of our behaviour, "the volunteer was foolish to volunteer"
    • Autonomous State
      • A mental state where we feel responsible and in control of our behaviour
    • Legitimacy of Authority
      • An explanation for obedience which suggests that we are more likely to obey people who we perceive to have authority over us. This authority is justified by the individual's position of power within a social hierarchy.
      • Destructive Authority - real life examples = Hitler, Stalin. Milgram's = experimenter.
    • Research Support
      • Blass & Schmitt (2001) showed a film of Milgram's study to students and asked who was to blame for the harm to the the learner, they blamed the experimenter as he had legitimate authority (top of the hierarchy) and expert authority (scientist).
    • Limited Explanation
      • The agentic shift doesn't explain all findings such as why some pts didn't obey, nor the findings of Hofling's nurse study.
    • Cultural Differences
      • Useful account of social differences in obedience. Kilham & Mann (1974) replicated Mlgram's study in Australia and found that only 16% of pts went to 450V. Mantell (1971) found that 85% of pts in Germany obeyed. this cross-cultural research increases the validity of the explanation.


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