Obedience: Social-psychological factors

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  • Obedience: Social-psychological factors:
  • AO1:
  • Agentic State:
  • Milgram proposed that obedience to destructive authority occurs because a person becomes an 'agent', someone who acts for, or in place of another. In an agentic state a person feels no personal responsibility for their actions. 
  • The opposite of an agentic state is an autonomous state. 'Autonomy' means to be independent or free. So a person in an autonomous state behaves according to their own principles and feels responsible for their own actions. 
  • The shift from autonomy to being an 'agent' is called the agentic shift. Milgram suggested that this occurs when we percieve someone else as an authority figure. This person has power because of their position in a social heirarchy. 
  • Binding factors are aspects of a situation that allow the person to ignore or mimimise the damaging effect of their behaviour and reduce the 'moral strain' they feel. Milgram propsed a number of strategies the individual uses, such as shifting the responsibilty to the victim or denying the damaage they are doing to the victims. 
  • Legitimacy of authority:
  • Most societies are structured heirarchall. People in certain positions hold authority over the rest of us. Parents, teachers, police officers, nightclub bouncers etc, all have some form of authority over us at times. We obey the people that are at the top of this heirarchy. The authority they wield is legitimate in the sense that it's agrred by society. Most of us accept that authority figures should exercise social…


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