Obedience is the process which leads a person – or an animal –, after listening to an order or a demand from an authoritative figure, to obey regardless of the consequences or moral implications derived from following that order or demand. The way in which this demand is followed can very; it can be in an active manner, in this case the obedient individual will do what they are told to; or in a passive one, where the individual will refrain from doing something, for the only reason that it has been forbidden to them. Obedience is the subordination of one’s will to authority. An authoritative figure can be a person or a group of persons, as well as our own conscience, but also an ideology or, for religious people, God. However, who or what is demanding obedience, is not the only factor that influences obedience levels; there are other external factors which also have a great influence on them. One of these factors can be the presence of other peers in a situation where obedience is being demanded. For example, in Steven Rank & Cardell Jacobson’s replication of the Hofling Experiment (1966) in 1977, nurses who were allowed to consult to whether give an overdose of an unknown drug to a patient to other nurses, showed much lower levels of obedience than those nurses who were not allowed to consultation in the Hofling Experiment (Class Hand-out: Hofling Experiment (1966), p. 3). Another external factor which can influence obedience behaviour is whether the authoritative figure is wearing a uniform. The Bickman Experiment (1974), where 153 participants were asked to obey a different order in three different scenarios, proved the impact of uniforms on obedience behaviours. Participants were asked in all three situations to do something by men wearing civilian clothes, a milkman’s uniform, or a guard’s uniform, and in all three scenarios the levels of obedience were highest when being asked by the man in the guard’s uniform (Class Hand-out: A study into the...
Bibliography: Class Hand-out: Hofling Experiment (1966)
Class Hand-out: A study into the effects of uniform
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