Effect of Authority

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Running head: EFFECT OF AUTHORITY

Effect of Authority on the Likelihood to Conform

Abstract
To explore the relationship between increased power or social status and a person’s likelihood to conform, forty high school students (5 boys and 5 girls from each grade level: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors) will be taken one at a time into a room with five confederates (classmates who are considered by their peers to be in the “popular crowd”). The participants will be shown a variety of simple addition problems (1+1 through 10+10) and will be asked to choose the correct answer to the equation from four answer choices. To every question, the confederates will each answer the same incorrect answer. The hypothesis is that, over the course of the study, the participants will begin to answer the same incorrect answers as the “popular” confederates. The predicted results will demonstrate the theory that obedience to authority continues to have a strong impact on the decisions people will make.

Effect of Authority on the Likelihood to Conform
The events that occurred in Germany during Adolf Hitler’s reign as chancellor were devastating. The list of questions people have regarding the Holocaust is extensive and covers multiple areas of psychology. It is natural for a few “bad apples” to reside in a large group of people. What people do not understand, however, is how Hitler managed to convince so many doctors, lawyers and even members of the clergy to become vicious and heartless killers. The Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, while on trial for his crimes to humanity, insisted his actions should not be punished because he was simply following the orders given to him by his leader (Borge, 2007). Is this a significant excuse? Are people really so easy to manipulate? Does the amount of popularity or power an individual has increase the likelihood they can manipulate? With the multiple studies investigating the effect of authority on conformity, could an...
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