Social- psychological factors

  • Created by: fran2
  • Created on: 15-03-18 10:06

Social-psychological factors

Agentic state:

  • Autonomous state- the opposite of an agentic state. 'Autonomy' means to be independent or free. The shift from autonomy to agency is called the agentic shift. Milgram suggested that this occurs when a person percieves someone else as a figure of authority. The other person has greater power because of their position in a social hierarchy 
  • Binding factors- aspects of the situation that allow the person to ignore or minimise the damaging effect of their behaviour and this reduce the 'moral strain' they are feeling
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Social-psychological factors

Legitimacy of authority:

One of the consequences of legitimacy of authority is that some people are granted the power to punish others, e.g. Police. We learn to accept this from childhood, e.g. parents, then teachers and so on

  • Destructive authority- some people have used their legitimate authority for destructive purposes, e.g. Hitler
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Evaluation of social-psychological factors

Agentic state:

  • Research support (strength)- Blass and Schmitt showed a film of Milgram's study to students and asked them to identify who was responsible. The students blamed the experimenter rather than the participant. This shows that they recognised legitimate authority as the cause of obedience 
  • A limited explanation (limitation)- this doesn't explain why some participants did not obey. Therefore, this suggests that the agentic shift can only account for some situations of obedience 
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Evaluation of social-psychological factors

Legitimacy of authority:

  • Cultural differences (strength)- Kilham and Mann replicated Milgram's procedure in Australia and found that only 16% of participants went all the way up the voltage scale. Whereas in Germany, 85% did. This shows that in some cultures, authority is more likely to be accepted. These supportive findings from cross-cultural research increase the validty of the explanation 
  • Real-life crimes of obedience (strength)- it can help explain how obedience can lead to real-life war crimes
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