Why People Become Corrupt: Conformity, Obedience and the Power of Situation

Why People Become Corrupt: Conformity, Obedience and the Power of Situation

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How do nice people become corrupted? Sometimes people may engage in corrupt activity because others around them are doing so. Those people may find it difficult to take a stand against the corrupt behavior even though they know it is wrong. Although every situation is unique, ordinary people can find themselves in situations where they are committing fraudulent crimes unbeknownst to themselves. Other times, people may find themselves in a different situation of committing crimes because a person of authority has asked them to participate in illegal activity. In order to understand the negative consequences that result from this social influence, it is important to analyze the concepts of conformity, obedience and the power of the situation.

Conformity is defined as a change in behavior or belief to accord with others. (Meyers 170) What other people do and say can gradually influence others to deviate from ones beliefs and conform to another’s. One of the most famous documented studies to better illustrate this was a procedure performed by social psychologist, Solomon Asch.

Asch’s Conformity Procedure took participants and presented them with a set of lines. In one case showed a single line and the other showed a trio of lines. The participant’s task was simply to find which line in the trio of lines matched the single line in length. When looking at the lines, there is only one line of the trio lines that obviously matched the single line. What Asch did was put participants in groups as collaborators, which were the actors, to turn in a specific answer. This was rigged so the collaborators would give their answers first and then the real participant who thinks he’s a participant like the rest would gives their answer afte...


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...nd we were dealing with other drug dealers.” (ABC News) Investigators learned that Lee and Cadi moved 7000 lbs. of marijuana worth more than 3 million dollars over the course of Cadi’s employment.

Conformity, obedience and the power of situation are a couple of the many reasons why nice people get corrupted. The power of situation is an overwhelming force. There is an ethical implication on how one should act in a workplace. On one hand, one must be respectful of authority. On the other hand there must be a point in which the demands of such authority must be opposed and resisted. People need to think ahead of the consequences and act appropriately.



Works Cited

Meyers, David. Exploring Social Psychology. 6th . New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 170.
Print
Levine, Robert. "Milgram's Progress." American Scientist. N.p., July 2004. Web. 7 Feb 2004.

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