“People Do Not Always Conform or Obey; Sometimes They Are Able to Resist Such Pressures” Discuss Research Into the Influence of Individual Differences on Independent Behaviour

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Some psychological research compared the personality characteristics and independent behaviour of those who conformed, with the characteristics of those who did not conform. In 1955, Crutchfield found that people conform for a number of reasons. These reasons included being less knowledgeable, less confident, non-assertive, authoritarian views and a lack of friendship networks. These are all personality factors that affect whether or not someone conforms.

Other researchers investigated the personality characteristics of those who have been disobedient to authority figures. Oliner and Oliner (1988) interviewed two groups of non-Jewish people who had lived through the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. They compared 406 people who had protected and rescued Jews from the Nazis and 126 who had not. Oliner and Oliner found that the group that rescued the Jews scored higher on measures of social responsibility and had scores that showed an internal locus of control. A locus of control is to have a sense of control of successes, failures and events in their life. Those with an internal locus of control feel as though they are fully in control of their actions and the consequences. Whereas, people with an external locus of control believe in fate, and that they can’t control their future. This study’s findings are similar to that of Milgram’s study in which he interviewed a sub-sample of participants used in Milgram’s prior obedience experiments. It appears from these studies that social responsibility and locus of control are important factors in an individual’s ability to disobey orders.

Some researchers have investigates whether independent behaviour can be encouraged from external sources. Nemeth and Chiles (1988) carried out a series of studies to see if participants can be influenced to become more independent. They carried out studies based on Moscovici’s “blue-green slide” experiment. 48 male participants were exposed to two separate attempts to alter their views....
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