Obedience To Authority Essay

Obedience To Authority Essay-20
The experimenter explained that the goal of the research was to study the effects of punishment on learning. In sum, almost two-thirds of the men who participated had, as far as they knew, shocked another person to death, all as part of a supposed experiment on learning.

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(Fiske, 1993; Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003).

Bosses have power over their workers, parents have power over their children, and, more generally, we can say that those in authority have power over their subordinates.

When another research participant (again an experimental confederate) began by giving the shocks but then later refused to continue and the participant was asked to take over, only 10% were obedient. A power/interaction model of interpersonal influence: French and Raven thirty years later.

And if two experimenters were present but only one proposed shocking while the other argued for stopping the shocks, all the research participants took the more benevolent advice and did not shock. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 7(2), 217–244.

While both are forms of social influence, we most often tend to conform to our peers, whereas we obey those in positions of authority.

Obedience To Authority Essay

Furthermore, the pressure to conform tends to be implicit, whereas the order to obey is typically rather explicit. Like his professor Solomon Asch, Milgram’s interest in social influence stemmed in part from his desire to understand how the presence of a powerful person—particularly the German dictator Adolf Hitler who ordered the killing of millions of people during World War II—could produce obedience. Although all of the participants gave the initial mild levels of shock, responses varied after that. Under Hitler’s direction, the German SS troops oversaw the execution of 6 million Jews as well as other “undesirables,” including political and religious dissidents, homosexuals, mentally and physically disabled people, and prisoners of war. Some refused to continue after about 150 volts, despite the insistence of the experimenter to continue to increase the shock level. Personality and intellectual predictors of leadership. The shock panel, as shown in Figure 6.9, “The Shock Apparatus Used in Milgram’s Obedience Study,” was presented in front of the teacher, and the learner was not visible in the shock room. However, in replications of the study in which the experimenter’s authority was decreased, obedience also declined. The experimenter sat behind the teacher and explained to him that each time the learner made a mistake the teacher was to press one of the shock switches to administer the shock. In one replication the status of the experimenter was reduced by having the experiment take place in a building located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, rather than at the labs on the Yale University campus, and the research was ostensibly sponsored by a private commercial research firm instead of by the university. Hogg (Eds.), Leadership and power: Identity processes in groups and organizations (pp. They were to begin with the smallest possible shock (15 volts) but with each mistake the shock was to increased by one level (an additional 15 volts). ” As the shock reached about 270 volts, the learner’s protests became more vehement, and after 300 volts the learner proclaimed that he was not going to answer any more questions. The experimenter responded to participants’ questions at this point, if they asked any, with a scripted response indicating that they should continue reading the questions and applying increasing shock when the learner did not respond. In this study, less obedience was observed (only 48% of the participants delivered the maximum shock). Once the learner (who was, of course, actually an experimental confederate) was alone in the shock room, he unstrapped himself from the shock machine and brought out a tape recorder that he used to play a prerecorded series of responses that the teacher could hear through the wall of the room. Table 6.1 The Confederate’s Schedule of Protest in the Milgram Experiments Ugh!! Full obedience was also reduced (to 20%) when the experimenter’s ability to express his authority was limited by having him sit in an adjoining room and communicate to the teacher by telephone. Milgram was interested in understanding the factors that lead people to obey the orders given by people in authority. He then asked them what percentage of “other people” would be likely to use the highest end of the shock scale, at which point the three groups demonstrated remarkable consistency by all producing (rather optimistic) estimates of around 1% to 2%. (Eds.), International handbook of personality and intelligence. He designed a study in which he could observe the extent to which a person who presented himself as an authority would be able to produce obedience, even to the extent of leading people to cause harm to others. The results of the actual experiments were themselves quite shocking. As you can see in Table 6.1,”The Confederate’s Schedule of Protest in the Milgram Experiments,” the teacher heard the learner say “ugh! After the next few mistakes, when the shock level reached 150 volts, the learner was heard to exclaim “Get me out of here, please. And when the experimenter left the room and had another student (actually a confederate) give the instructions for him, obedience was also reduced to 20%. In addition to the role of authority, Milgram’s studies also confirmed the role of unanimity in producing obedience.


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