Social Influence key theories


Milgram's Agency Theory - social factors

More likely to obey orders when we enter agentic state

Agentic state - when we believe we're acting on behalf of an authority figure so not accountable for own actions

Autonomic state - when we feel responsible for our own actions

Change from autonomic to agentic = agentic shift

EVALUATIONS: supported by research (when shown Milgram's study they blamed experimenter not participants), doesn't explain all findings (doesn't explain why there wasnt 100% obedience in Milgram's study)

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Social factors affecting obedience

CULTURE: type of culture influences feelings about authority figures. collectivist cultures e.g. China have higher rates of obedience because greater importance is placed on respecting authority figures. affects obedience levels as it affects how we respond to authority figures

PROXIMITY: closer to authority figure = more likely we are to obey them. e.g. Milgram's research - obedience levels higher when experimenter was in same room while giving instructions. 

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Adorno's theory of the authoritarian personality -

Authoritarian personality = more obedient than others, look down on those lower than them, don't like change. developed at young age by parenting that focused on hierarchy and authoritarian parenting styles. hostility felt towards parents for being too critical is put onto those who are considered socially inferior.

EVALUATIONS: lack of support - authoritarian personality measured on F scale - response bias. results are correlational - can't say that authoritarian personality causes greater obedience

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Dispositional factors affecting obedience


high/low self-esteem, self-confidence levels, intelligence levels

all affect chance of obedience

those that disobeyed in Milgram's study tended to be more articulate and confident

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