Authority and Obedience

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Authority and Obedience Thesis: We consciously or unconsciously obey authority in all walks of life on a daily basis. Obedience is when there is legitimate power, there is pressure to comply. Compliance with that which is required by authority; subjection to rightful restraint or control. Authority being the legal or rightful power; a right to command or enforce obedience on another. This essay shall discuss, explore and evaluate the explanations as to why people obey authority. After the Nazi's justified genocide by saying that they were simply following orders, a psychologist named Stanley Milgram (1963) decided to carry out a study to try to answer the question of how far individuals would go with regards to obedience to orders. According to Milgram, obedience is a basic element in the structure of social life and that a system of authority is required in all communal living. Whether or not this is an harmonious component, be it responded to with defiance or submission, it is an imperative factor. Milgram wrote that obedience was an 'ingrained behaviour tendency which overrides all training in ethics, sympathy and moral conduct'. Milgram used a trial case study which he claimed to the research participant was to assess the effects of punishment on learning. But the real aim of the study was to find out the extent to which people will obey, which he would do through a series of deceptions. His trial participant was a 31 year old female teacher called Gretchen Brantt who worked as a Medical Technician at the Yale Medical School. She had previously emigrated to the USA five years ago. He chose to act out the study ... ... middle of paper ... ... an ingrained habit within us all, apart from minority exceptions such as criminals and those who chose to rebel. Social equilibrium would be difficult if not impossible if it were that we disobeyed all authority. The presence of an authoritative person, such as a member of the police force is enough to discourage a fight at a football match or perhaps encourage one, should they not be present. In conclusion, we consciously or unconsciously obey authority in all walks of life on a daily basis. The intensity of that authoritative presence can have dramatic effects on our behaviour and the level to which we obey. Bibliography. Introductory Psychology - Malim & Birch 1998 Macmillan Press Ltd 'The Perils of Obedience' - Harper's Magazine abridged and adapted from Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram 1974

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