Theories of Obedience

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  • Theories of Obedience
    • To do with multiple individuals in either group.
      • Social Impact Theory
        • Social force
          • Strength
            • Concerns the perceived or actual power the source has over you.
          • Immediacy
            • This concerns how physically close the source of the authority is, and how recent the influence is.
          • Numbers
            • The numbers of people involved in each group (source and target).
        • Pyschosocial Law
          • This is the idea that the first source of influence has the most impact, then the second, third, fourth... influences have a increasing but decelerating level of impact.
        • Divisional effect.
          • Individuals feel less accountable as the number of people present increases.
          • The more people involved, the less power the authority figure has.
          • This can be combated by increasing the power or number of authority figures.
        • Social impact = strength x Immediacy x Number.
        • Created by Bibb Latane in 1981
    • To do with individuals in a situation.
      • Agency Theory
        • Two mental states
          • Autonomous State
            • We perceive ourselves to be responsible for our own actions.
            • We act on our own free will.
          • Agentic state
            • We feel like an agent for somebody else's will - we don't worry about our actions as much as the authority figure holds responsibility for our actions.
        • We perceive some people to be authority figures - they may carry symbols of authority - such as a lab coat.
          • An order from an authority figure may trigger an agentic shift into agentic state.
            • The Agentic state is appealing because the moral strain is reduced.
        • Moral Strain
          • Sense of anxiety.
          • We know something is wrong but we feel powerless as we are further down the social hierarchy.
          • There a few techniques used by people to help combat the effects of moral strain.
            • Degree of involvement
            • Avoidance
            • Denial
            • Subtly pushing instruction boundaries
            • There are also many others that can be applied to specific situations.


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