Obedience: Dispositional explanations

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  • Obedience: Dispositional explanations: 
  • AO1:
  • Explanantion - The Authoritarian personality
  • Adorno et al wanted to understand the anti-Semitism of the holocaust. They believed that unquestioning obedience is a psychological disorder, and tried to find its causes in the individuals personality. 
  • Adorno et al concluded that people with an authoritarian personality are especailly obedient to authority. They have exaggerated respect for authority and submissiveness to it. They express contempt for people of inferior social status. And they have conventional attitudes towards race and gender. 
  • Authoritairian personality forms in childhood through harsh parenting: extremely strict discipline, expectation of absolute loyalty, impossibly high standards and severe criticism. It is also characterised by conditional love - parents' love depends entirely in how their child behaves. 
  • These experiences create resentment and hostility in the child, but they cannot express these feelings directly against their parents because they fear repraisals. So the feelings are displaced onto others who are seen as weaker - this is called scapegoating. This explains hatred of people seen as socially inferior, a psychodynamic explanation. 
  • Key study: Adorno et al - The Authoritarian personality:
  • Procedure - The study investigated unconscious attitiudes towards other racial groups of more than 2000 middle-class white Americans. 
  • Several scales were developed, including the potential for fascism scale (F-scale): an example of this would be: 'Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues for children to learn'. And; 'There is hardly anything lower than…

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