Conformity and Obedience

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Barbara Fellows
Grand Canyon University
January 9, 2013

Conformity and Obedience
Comprehending the essence of obedience and disobedience has been an interest for many researchers, psychologists and scientists. Multiple observations have been administered to assist in understanding such issues and the impact employed by outside factors on individuals within the decision making channels. Neglecting obedience can be as hazardous as neglecting revolution in any society; neither is accomplished with self-observation as a component of the process. Personal interest and concern must be incorporated in determining the appropriate moment for thoughtful disobedience in an effort to preserve society. As a result, several psychologists such as Stanley Milgram have examined the effects of obedience and conformity; thus challenging the accepted prototype of individual freedom, and is confronted with judgments of ethical value. This paper will examine Milgram’s research and his interpretation of those results; while examining current research to determine its degree of support as it relates to conformity and obedience. Milgram’s research

Conformity is often defined as the influence of an individual’s beliefs, behavior and attitude by others or outside forces. Obedience however, is an outline of social dominion where an individual conform to orders, which are generally produced by figures of authority, and assumed the individual would have responded differently if the order was omitted. The influence may have occurred consciously, unconsciously or by direct social pressure. Individual’s often conform to achieve an impression of security in specific groups or to feel accepted. (Russell, 2011). Stanley Milgram is acclaimed for his achievement with obedience to authority. “The Perils of Obedience,” examined whether common individuals would obey an authoritative figure, while informing them to inflict harm on other individuals. Milgram recruited forty male participants through advertising, thus partaking in an analysis for approximately four dollars to determine how punishment affects learning. Milgram implemented an aggressive shock generator with shock levels beginning at thirty volts and increasing in fifteen volt increments to the maximum of four hundred fifty volts. In the study, the “teacher” is informed to communicate words and ask the “learner” to interpret the information back. If the learner answers incorrectly, the teacher supposedly shocks the learner with fifteen volts, with a gradual increase to four hundred fifty according to incorrect responses. Interestingly, as the teacher administered shocks, the learner was never actually harmed. (Russell, 2011). Results and Interpretation

Milgram’s experiment impaired the theory that only the most perverse individuals would submit to such cruelty. His findings indicated that approximately two-thirds of the participants are categorized as obedient subjects, thus representing common individuals. Of the forty participants sixty-five percent of the volunteers delivered maximum shocks. In fact, twenty-six delivered the maximum shocks while fourteen stopped prior to acquiring the maximum levels. (Russell, 2011). Milgram’s conclusions revealed that when an individual is obeying orders he views himself as the instrument and no longer considers himself responsible for his actions. In essence, when performing a task as instructed by an authoritative personality, the feelings of responsibility and individual emotions are separated. Accountability alters the minds of the subordinate from themselves to the authoritative individual. (Russell, 2011). Current Research

Many have asked if everyone in society opposes individual beliefs to merely satisfy a figure of authority? Milgram’s research discloses that most of society adheres to authoritative figures regardless of their individual or personal principles. Milgram tends to inform...
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