Explanations for obedience


Agentic State

Agentic State: Where an individual carries out the orders of an authority figure, acting as their agent.

When you're in an autonomous state, you make decisions for yourself.

When a person changes from an autonomous state to an agentic state, they have undergone an agentic shift.

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Legitamacy of Authority

We as a society have agreed that the authority certain people wield is legitimate.

Most of us accept that authority figures have to be allowed to exercise social power over others because this allows society to function properly. 

With regard to Milgram's study, the experimenter is seen as having a legitimate authority as he has a scientific status. 

Milgram’s variations investigating proximity, location and uniform highlight the legitimate authority.

For a person to obey an instruction they need to believe that the authority is legitimate and this can be affected by uniform, location and proximity.

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