Stanley Milgram’s Aims & Context
Obedience is a direct social influence where a person complies with orders without questioning a person with perceived authority and does a task voluntarily. In the presence of a person of authority, the said person has an option of either complying with orders they are given or to disobey, and as consequences may be unknown if they do not follow what they are asked to do, fear of punishment may influence the person to then respond by submitting to what they have been told to do. Milgram’s study was done after the trial of Adolf Eichmann. This was after the holocaust where 6 million Jews were murdered. This trial displayed an example of destructive obedience where people were said to have complied with what they were told to do, even if it had a negative impact on others, which in this case was murdering innocent people, although being completely mentally aware of what they were being asked to do and yet still carried out the task. Dispositional explanations of why people would have reacted the way they did could have been by being brought up in a certain autocratic lifestyle, where they would be told to do something by parents and would not disobey out of respect as often the family members were soldiers meaning the children would have been disciplined to do as they are told by a person of authority. Though situational factors that would have influenced the person could have been the change in scenarios. For example when the tests were conducted in a lab the results showed that 65% of people continued to electrocute to 450V. Although when the same tests were carried out in town offices this number then dropped to 47% suggesting that people were more obedient in an area that was perceived as more professional to them. Adorno gave the concept of the ‘Authoritarian Personality’. This was a person’s state of mind or attitude which was characterised by their belief in complete obedience and submission to...
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