The Milgram Experiment: The Power Of Authority And Obedience

1225 Words5 Pages
The Power of Authority The relation between authority and obedience has been a topic of questioning for a number of years. Psychological studies such as the Milgram Experiment and Stanford Prison experiment have found a strong connection between authority and obedience, indicating an individual’s likelihood to obey heightens when their sense of morality and rationality is confronted by a figure of authority. The controversial Milgram experiment demonstrated how an individual can easily be influenced to partake in amoral behaviour when instructed my an authoritative figure. Obedience and authority can also be influenced based on an individual’s social role.This can be seen with the Stanford prison experiments, which found that when assigned…show more content…
This was done by “simulating prison life” in which he created a mock jail house and randomly assigned the role of either prisoner or guard to volunteers (McLeod, 2008). The study resulted in the participants almost immediately conforming to their assigned roles. The ‘prisoners’ became submissive and subordinate, showing high levels of obedience towards the prison guards (McLeod, 2008). In a short period of time the ‘prison guards’ displayed abusive behaviour, with their behaviour being described as “brutal and sadistic” (McLeod, 2008). In order to conform to an submissive and obedient role of a prisoner, the volunteers were essentially “dehumanized” being strip searched and identified by number only (McLeod, 2008). The study found that the ‘prisoners’ “started taking the prison rules very seriously”, as they were fearful of punishment from the ‘guards. Although controversial, and at times unethical, Zimbardo’s study found that an individual would easily conform to their assigned social role. The experiment displays that when an individual is confronted with a powerful figure of authority, they resort to a positing of submission, resulting in an increased level of obedience. Zimbardo’s explanation for the ‘prisoners’ “final submission” was credited to the concept of “deindividuation”, meaning the dehumanizing (such as being strip searched and being assigned and referred to as a number) that the ’prisoners’ went through (McLeod, 2008). This caused them to “become so immersed in the norms of the group that you lose your sense of identity and personal responsibility” (McLeod, 2008). The prisoners obedience to the guards was due to their complete submersion into prison life. They disconnected from the person they were before the experiment, doing anything they could, including complete submission, in order to show

More about The Milgram Experiment: The Power Of Authority And Obedience

Open Document