Obedience to Authority

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By amchishty
Words 1884
Pages 8

The Power of the Situation in Milgram's Obedience Experiments
Ahsan Chishty
Ohlone College

The Power of the Situation in Milgram's Obedience Experiments Stanley Milgram is a name universally known for the Yale professor who shocked the world with his experiments on obedience. In 1961, Milgram along with many other colleagues devised an experiment after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct an experiment in response to the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Milgram wanted to know if Germans under the rule of authority figures did exactly what they were instructed to do by those of higher power than them due to the fact that many of the explanations for the Nazi atrocities was simply that Nazi soldiers were following orders. After placing an ad in the New Haven Register for a learning experiment on the study of memory. According to Thomas Blass (2009), offering participants $4.50 and a paid bus fare for an hour of their time seemed to be the biggest factor that attracted people to the ad but several of the participants also agreed to be a part of the study to learn something about themselves, expand their curiosity about psychology, or because they were fascinated by memory and hoped to understand it better through an experiment like Milgram's. The subjects were introduced to a man in a lab coat who would administrate the experiment. Subjects were told they would be taking the role of a teacher in a learner/teacher circumstance where they would test the memory of a man through a series of vocabulary tests. For every wrong answer, the subject was instructed to inflict a shock on the "learner", with the power of the shocks ranging from 15 volts, which was rather harmless, to 450 volts…...

Similar Documents

Obedience Behavior

...Psychology Obedience Behavior For doing a similar like the one like Milgram did there many different tactics you can use to enforce obedience behavior instead of pain like; you could use fear especially someone has an extreme phobic of something or fear something could happen if they don’t do their job. The power of fear conqueror many things especially if someone doesn’t have a strong will power to conqueror there fear or it doesn’t has to do with you could have fear through the power of having love for something the will enforce fear. Since you enforce the fear in the person even if you have subject doing the job you told him to do, one of a few things could happen they will question you about what they’re doing is wrong or even unmoral hearing you tell them to keep doing that may be humiliating them hearing you the authority figure saying to continue will be reassuring since they are getting paid for the job and hearing they will not get in trouble make the person more convincing to keep doing his job and not listen to the other subject when he says he want to stop that’s when you have the other subject use the power of fear on that person to make him comply. Which for this to work on the person, he has to be in a believable environment. Another angle the experiment could happen if the first subject is with a group of people seeing everyone is doing the same job with without anyone refusing they’re more willing to be obedience to comply to the unmoral deeds...

Words: 654 - Pages: 3

The Perils of Obedience

...The perils of obedience "Be quiet! Write this down." How often have you heard this, or something like it? We hear or come across commands, instructions, directions and orders every day. What is it that makes us obey (or disobey) them? Millions of people were killed in Nazi Germany in concentration camps but Hitler couldn't have killed them all, nor could a handful of people. What made all those people follow the orders they were given? Were they afraid, or was there something in their personality that made them like that? In order to obey authority, the obeying person has to accept that it is legitimate (i.e. rightful, legal) for the command to be made of them. Obedience is a form of social influence where an individual acts in response to a direct order from another individual, who is usually an authority figure. It is assumed that without such an order the person would not have acted in this way. Obedience occurs when you are told to do something (authority), whereas conformity happens through social pressure (the norms of the majority). Obedience involves a hierarchy of power / status. Therefore, the person giving the order has a higher status than the person receiving the order. Adolf Eichmann was executed in 1962 for his part in organizing the Holocaust, in which six million Jewish people, as well as gypsies, communists and trade unionists were transported to death camps and murdered in Nazi Germany and surrounding countries under Nazi control. Eichmann was...

Words: 1105 - Pages: 5

Obedience, Authority and Moral Conflict

...Obedience, Authority and Moral Conflict Thomas E. Colley ENGL 213, P11: Writing in the Social and Natural Sciences Dr. Joan O’Leary January 28, 2010 Obedience, Authority and Moral Conflict In the 1963 report, “The Perils of Obedience,” psychologist Stanley Milgram detailed the results of experiments on the obedient response of individuals to the commands of an authority figure while experiencing moral conflict. Milgram conducted his experiments with diverse subjects in many countries. The trials consisted of three participants: the learner, the teacher and the experimenter. Witnessed by the teacher, the experimenter strapped the learner to an apparatus that appeared to be “a miniature electric chair.” The teacher tested the learner on his ability to remember the second word of a pair when prompted by reading the first word. Seated in front of an instrument panel in a separate room, the teacher administered an electric shock of increasing intensity to the learner for any memory errors. Milgram provided a detailed description that left little doubt that the shock and intensity administered was the result of the teacher’s manipulation of this device. Unbeknownst to the teacher, the learner was part of the trial and responded to the shocks in an increasingly agonizing display. Milgram’s findings, which directly contradicted his predictions, demonstrated full compliance in 60-85% of the participants. Obedience in the face of moral conflict was......

Words: 354 - Pages: 2

Obedience to Authority

...Obedience to Authority Making a significant contribution to social psychology, Stanley Milgram focused his studies on authority, specifically on how individuals react to it and are obedient to it. His groundbreaking and famous experiment surprised the world of social psychology, as well as society as a whole (Blass, 2002). Throughout this paper, the reasoning behind Milgram’s study of obedience to authority will be discussed. Additionally, the experiment will be explained, beginning with the formulation and ending with the results. Lastly, the influence of the experiment on social psychology, as well as current research on this topic will be covered. Historical Perspective To gain a better understanding of Milgram’s substantial contributions to social psychology, an examination of the historical period in which he started his career is necessary. According to Mastroianni (2002), World War II had just begun and everyone was still traumatized by the alarming reality of what was happening during the war in Europe. As the Nazi concentration camps were being discovered, the world began to find out about Hitler’s plan to purify the “supreme race” (Mastroianni, 2002). The most shocking part of the holocaust was the plans that Hitler had were being implemented (Mastroianni, 2002). Due to the unfolding events happening during World War II, Blass (2002) pointed out that there were many unanswered questions at the time. As a society, people just could not understand how one......

Words: 1556 - Pages: 7


...Obedience is a form of social influence that occurs when a person yields to explicit instructions on orders from an authority figure. Obedience is compliance with commands given by an authority figure. In the 1960s, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram did a famous research study called the obedience study. It showed that people have a strong tendency to comply with authority figures. Milgram’s Obedience Study Milgram told his forty male volunteer research subjects that they were participating in a study about the effects of punishment on learning. He assigned each of the subjects to the role of teacher. Each subject was told that his task was to help another subject like himself learn a list of word pairs. Each time the learner made a mistake, the teacher was to give the learner an electric shock by flipping a switch. The teacher was told to increase the shock level each time the learner made a mistake, until a dangerous shock level was reached. Throughout the course of the experiment, the experimenter firmly commanded the teachers to follow the instructions they had been given. In reality, the learner was not an experiment subject but Milgram’s accomplice, and he never actually received an electric shock. However, he pretended to be in pain when shocks were administered. Prior to the study, forty psychiatrists that Milgram consulted told him that fewer than 1 percent of subjects would administer what they thought were dangerous shocks to the......

Words: 1700 - Pages: 7

Blind Obedience

...Eng. 122 May 8,2013    Blind obedience   Society often view obedience as a good quality or trait to have; employers want obedient employees and parents often wish for obedient children. Being obedient means that an individual shows respect for an authority figure and will carry out the instructions they are given; when someone is obedient they are widely accepted by society, because they do whatever it is that society asks of them. But obedience carried too far can have disastrous consequences to both the individual and society; this is referred to as blind obedience.  Blind obedience is when a person follows authority without even thinking about the consequences that the order to which they are obeying carries. It’s as if the authority figures are puppeteers and the people blindly obeying them the puppets. Puppeteers and their puppets best illustrate the relationship between the authority figure and the people doing horrendous actions, because being obedient is the right thing to do. So many events in history have proven how inhumane human beings can be when following authority. Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, conducted one of the most controversial experiments in history, in attempt to demonstrate how individuals can lose themselves to an authority figure. Milgram’s experiment was called “Obedience to Authority.”   Theodore Dalrymple wrote an article titled, “Just do What the Pilot Tells......

Words: 2109 - Pages: 9

Unit 4: Conformity, Obedience and Authority

...Conformity, Obedience and Authority Discipline within the Uniformed Public Services is very important; they have responsibilities to the public concerning their safety and well-being within society. Discipline is used in all sectors of the Public Services; this means that they are more likely to do what is required of them even if they disagree with what they’ve been asked to do. However, it can always be written in the report afterwards so it is made clear to those in the higher ranks who may read it. Discipline ensures that all Uniformed Public Services and the public are not put in unnecessary danger. The need and role of discipline within the Police In the police the role of discipline is essential. This is because should Members of the police wish to abuse his or her power, they can’t do so as easily as there are consequences that have been put into place to reduce it happening. For example, if a police offer pulled someone to the side and requested to search them, the individual has the right to request a reason for the search. The officer would need to have a good reason. Good reasons may be the individual looks like a suspect pending investigation or they have a strong reason to believe that the individual is carrying illegal substances on their person. This is a very good thing because the police used to be able to stop anyone without giving reasons. During 2010 and 2011 in England the number of stop and searches that then lead to arrests was over 60020......

Words: 4359 - Pages: 18

Obedience to Authority

...Malicious ideologies have enabled groups of people to inflict inhumane violence on other members of society through compliance to authority. Such historical events of massive genocides include the Holocaust; where Nazi soldiers killed six million innocent Jewish people based on their political and ethical reasoning. Troubled by situations of this nature, Stanley Milgram held a collection of experiments that his book “Obedience to Authority” outlines. Milgram tells us that “the aim of the study was to find when and how people defy authority in the face of clear moral imperatives” ( 4). Milgram found that there are social forces which allow populations to commit morally conflicting acts against other populations. The fundamental variable for this influence is ideology; which is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “a systematic body of concepts, especially about human life or culture”(“ideology”). Ideologies accompanied by social contagions, admit ordinary individuals to transgress in inhumane conformed evils. The obedient subjects of Milgram’s studies and the Nazi soldiers alike are not all necessarily sadistic psychopaths. Rather, they’re a result of ideological social conformity. It has been a commonly accepted idea that those who participated in the holocaust were all individually psychopaths, but conformity to a corrupt authority’s dogma influences ordinary people to behave malevolently. Between 1941- 1945, fifty-five thousand Nazi soldiers worked at death and work......

Words: 1825 - Pages: 8

Perils of Obedience

...The Perils of Obedience by Stanley Milgram Stanley Milgram’s “ The Perils of Obedience” shows that some people can obey authority even when it requires committing terrible actions within their society. Milgram begins his essay by describing what obedience is and how deeply ingrained of a behavior tendency that it is. He then sets up an experiment at Yale University that will push the limits of human obedience. He has a “teacher” give out a series of simple word pairs for the “learner”. If the learner gets a word pair wrong then the teacher gives out a series of shock ranging from 15 to 450 volts. The teacher who is the real subject in the experiment does not know that the learner is a paid actor who does not receive any actual shocks. The motivation behind this experiment for Milgram was to test just how far people would go to obey the command of an authority figure. Milgram’s theory is that the subject will have total control of what they are doing and will disobey the authority figure when inflicting pain onto a hopeless human being. One of his subjects, Gretchen Brandt, is participating with the experiment when the learner got the word pair wrong she showed the self control to stop shocking to not continue. Milgram thought that this is how the majority of subjects would react, “Her behavior is the very embodiment of what I envisioned would be true for almost all subject”(Milgram, 44). Brandt simply wasn’t worried about rejecting the authority if it meant that she no......

Words: 682 - Pages: 3

Perils of Obedience

...Emanuel Coleman Professor Smicialas English 161 9 September 2014 The Perils Of Obedience “Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to.” (Milgram 631). In Stanley Milgram’s 1963 study Perils of Obedience, he finds that human beings, when ordered by an authority, will commit atrocious acts against another human being. He proves this through an extensive scientific study. In this study, he pulls from a multitude of different social classes and cultures. Asking, the subjects to bring bodily harm to another person in the form of increasingly stronger electric shocks, ranging from 15 to 450 volts. The role assigned to the test subjects is that of "teacher" and "learner."The learner is put in a room and strapped to an electric chair, the teacher is in another room where they can see the learner. The teacher is seated next to a huge machine that administers the shocks. The scientist starts commanding from near by. He begins by calmly demanding that the teacher shock the student if the student does not accurately repeat a set of words that progressively advance in difficulty. The results of his 1963 study were shocking, even the people he sought to predict the outcome, which includes a variety of people from psychiatrists to college students and middle class adults. Interestingly enough, Milgram states that, “with remarkable similarity they predicted that virtually all subjects would refuse to obey the experimenter” (Milgram......

Words: 682 - Pages: 3


...cvbnm Authority and Accountibility11/24/2014Submitted BySalal Ahmad Basharat 14-4907Khawaja Haroon 12-4992Musa Rizvi 12-4990 | Table of Contents Introduction to the Topic 2 Authority 2 Different levels of the Authority 3 Accountability 4 Accountability in the workplace? 4 Why is Workplace Accountability Important? 4 Strategies for ensuring focus: 4 Authority in the Organization 8 Top Level Mangement 8 Middle Level Management 8 Operational Level Management 8 Accountability in the Organization 9 Accountability at work 9 Merit and strengths 10 Demerits and deficiencies 10 Conclusion 11 Introduction to the Topic Authority According to Henri Fayol, "Authority is the right to give orders and power to get obedience." Authority is the right given to a manager to achieve the objectives of the organization. It is a right to get the things done through others. It is a right to take decisions. It is a right to give orders to the subordinates and to get obedience from them. A manager cannot do his work without authority. A manager gets his authority from his position or post. He gets his authority from the higher authorities. The lower and middle-level managers get their authority from the top-level managers. The top-level managers get their authority from the shareholders. Authority is delegated from above but must be accepted from below i.e. by the subordinates. In other words, authority flows......

Words: 2584 - Pages: 11

Conformity and Obedience

...Conformity and Obedience Conformity: Conformity is a type of social influence or compliance in belief or behaviour in order to fit in or it could be known as behaviour in accordance with socially accepted conventions (also known as social norms) which could be standards or regulations within the public services such as dress regulations within the armed forces or the police. Compliance means the act of conforming or obeying an order or request and compliance with common practices is conforming to a common or reoccurring act, an example of this is when a recruit within the armed forces sees other soldiers saluting officers or standing in attention and this act keeps occurring the recruit would soon comply with those common practices. Social norms are what seem normal in a group or society, this could be acts or beliefs. Most people comply with social norms so that they do not feel an outcast within their group and to not seem abnormal within the group. An example of this could be that a group of friends seem to think it is normal to bully people, one of the members may see this as a terrible act but to not feel an outcast like the bully victim, the person complies with the social norm and starts to bully with the rest of the group. Self-esteem is how an individual may see their own worth and how much self-respect and confidence that person has towards themselves, a person’s background or upbringing may have an effect on their self-esteem. Someone who has a low......

Words: 2296 - Pages: 10

Obedience to a

...Obedience to Authorit Obedience to Authority Obedience is a term that can take place in many forms and with diverse individuals, especially with those who are authoritative figures. With many forms of destruction and life-threatening violence taking place during the middle part of the 20th century, many psychologists and scientists took interest in how ordinary individuals reacted to individuals in authority. One psychology in particular, Stanley Milgram, conducted a series of experiments investigating individuals’ obedient behavior to authoritative figures, whether positive deeds or acts of violence. This paper will summarize Milgram’s famous research as well as analyze the most current research of conforming to authority. Additionally, this paper will examine the current research on Milgram's findings from the early part of the 1960s. Summary of Milgram's Research Stanley Milgram (1963) was a social psychologist who set out to investigate human obedience, especially following the Second World War and in particular, the Holocaust (Milgram, 1963). Milgram’s interest was to conduct a study to answer the research question, are Germans different? However, as Milgram began to develop a tool used for studying obedience, he soon discovered that all individuals are remarkably obedient to people in authority. Milgram chose a naive subject to administer a dangerous electric shock to a victim, which releases voltage ranges from 15 to 450 (Milgram, 1963). Throughout the......

Words: 1126 - Pages: 5


...Comparative Critique Obedience and Disobedience has been a part of key moments in history. Many have studied forms of obedience to learn how it affects people and situations. For example, Stanley Milgram conducted a well-known experiment in which the subject, named the “teacher” must shock the “learner” every time he doesn’t remember a word pair from a memory test. The focus of this study is on the teacher, and whether they will administer killing shocks when told to by an authority figure. Another well-known experiment is the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo. A group of college boys were separated into two groups, prison guards and prisoners, and were put into a mock prison to test how obedience plays out in a prison setting. Many others have studied obedience and discussed key aspects of them. In Erich Fromm’s “Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem”, Fromm discusses varieties of obedience and disobedience. He argues that Similarly Theodore Dalrymple examines blind disobedience to authority in his article “Just Do What the Pilot Tells You”. Dalrymple argues that there needs to be a balance between obedience and disobedience. Fromm begins his article by pointing out that for centuries people believed that disobedience is a vice and obedience is a virtue. He goes on by stating that in actuality obedience and disobedience can be either a vice or virtue depending on certain situations. He defines the different varieties of obedience and......

Words: 1013 - Pages: 5

Existential Obedience

...Existential Obedience I would like to present obedience in a very elemental way, largely from the heart, without reference to the usual distinctions made in defining it: the dissection of it into its component parts, the noting of its specific differences from other virtues, and its relationships to other virtues in the theological scheme of things. I want to regard obedience as it relates to living our life in union with and after the example of Christ, seeing obedience as a dynamic of our existence as creatures and children of God. The common denominator of anything said about obedience is this fact of Christian reality: obedience was the leitmotiv, the basic, underlying theme of Jesus as Son of God.   "Here I am to do your will, O God."   The Word was made flesh in obedience to God's plan, and Jesus as the incarnate word lived his life in obedience to the unfolding of that plan as revealed by the Spirit of God. Obedience provided the very sustenance of Jesus' life. He declared that the Father's Will was his very food and drink. He also described obedience to the Father as the criteria by which he qualified our love for Him: if you love me, keep my commandments.   From the example of Jesus during his existence on earth we can discern this: obedience is always an individual's response to God's Will. To be obedient as Jesus, I must choose to conform or be uniform with what God desires of me. Another more basic way of saying the same thing is that obedience......

Words: 2983 - Pages: 12