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Unformatted text preview: Obedience to Authority
Obedience to Authority Obedience to Authority
Obedience to Authority Why are we motivated to obey authority? – Hierarchical social structures, that are based on the principle of obedience to authority, are necessary for the maintenance of social order and prevention of chaos. – Without a system of authority in place, life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbs).
– Consequently, we are trained from birth (implicitly, by learning social rules and norms of behavior), that obedience to proper authority is right and disobedience is wrong. Obedience to Authority
Obedience to Authority The authority principle can be acted upon in the absence of legitimate authority
All that is required for “obedience to authority” to occur is the perception of authority. Authority by Association
Authority by Association Authority may be perceived through association or proximity The association between X and Y is made nonconsciously.
– My friend is an expert therefore I look like an expert.
– The actor played the role of an M.D for 10 years. He is an expert on medical car by association. Now he sells medical care very successfully.
– Titles (Dr., Prof.) confer authority on areas outside of one’s actual area of expertise. Authority by Association
Authority by Association
– What is the effect of attire on perceived authority?
– What is the effect of height on perceived authority?
– What is the effect of the organization that you work for or the university that you attend on people’s perceptions of your “authority” Authority by Association
Authority by Association What if the association is negative? Can authority be undermined by association with a symbol of “lack of authority”? Lack of Authority by Association
Lack of Authority by Association Classic Study
Classic Study Milgram Experiment (1974):
“It is the extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority that constitutes the chief finding of this study” Milgram Experiment
Milgram Experiment Real participant and confederate
Real participant “randomly assigned” to be the teacher – Confederate = “learner”
Told to shock the learner every time he gets an answer wrong
Learner complains of heart trouble, demands to be released Milgram Experiment
Milgram Experiment 15 90 150 210 255 315 450 slight moderate strong very strong intense extreme danger XXX Would you go all the way?
What percentage of people would? Milgram Experiment
Milgram Experiment Milgram Experiment
Milgram Experiment 80% continue after learner screams, “My heart’s bothering me…I won’t be in the experiment anymore.”
62.5% of sjs delivered maximum shock Would you have obeyed?
Would you have obeyed? Psychiatrists estimate: <1%
How could this have happened?!
– Not blind, heartless obedience – Wanted to stop & tried
– Not destructive obedience but indecisive disobedience – Not sadistic, dark side of human nature
– Subjects were very resistant and uncomfortable
– Power of the situation Gradual shock increase Seemingly appropriate transfer of responsibility Would you have obeyed?
Would you have obeyed? Opposing Forces
a. Obeying a “legitimate” authority
b. Stop suffering of the learner
Obedience depends on the relative strength of opposing forces Remaining Questions Milgram: Ethics, much? – Actually, pioneer of modern debriefing
– Followed up a few months & year later: Participants generally felt positively about experiences
– But, led to modern regulations
– Could not be replicated in exact form now Similar results in modern replication? – Yep! (see http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2765416&page=1) First replication since 1975 Expt stopped after 150 volts (“point of no return”) 17
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- Spring '08