Obedience / Lessons from the Conformity and Obedience Studies

Topic: Obedience / Lessons from the Conformity and Obedience Studies

Posted by: Steven, Soo

Key Terms: None


Stanley Milgram's experiment: Even with the other participant's refusal and his shrieks of agony, 63% complied to the orders to conduct the experiment through the end. There weren't much differences between men and women, and this 63% didn't suffer any emotional aftereffects from their behavior.

Obedience is highest when:

  • the authority figure was close at hand

  • the authority figure was supported by a prestigious institution or even God

  • the victim was depersonalized or at a distance.

  • no other subjects were seen disobeying the experimenter.

Obedience was a factor in the Holocaust: When about 500 officers were ordered to kill the village's Jews and were given a chance to refuse, only about 12 did so immediately. About 1500 helpless women, children, and elderly were shot: only 20% eventually dissented from participation.

Le Chambon village: openly resisted the authority since they were taught to disobey the adversaries from their ancestors, they interacted with one another, and they were influenced by their own initial acts.

Lessons from the Conformity and Obedience Studies

  • Conformity and obedience studies were aimed to not re-create the literal behavior or human's everyday lives, but to capture the underlying processes that define those behaviors.
  • Asch and Milgram's experiments mainly were experiments in which the subject had a decision to make between adhering to their own standard beliefs and being reponsive to the authority. This clearly depicts the dillemma we face everyday.
  • Studies have allowed us to realize that strong social influences can alter people's minds to falsehood and cruelty.
  • Milgram has stated, "the most fundamental lesson of our study is that ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in terrible destructive process."
  • People have often believed evil relates to monstrous characters. Yet, all it takes for people to become devilish villians is simple order from the outer force to gradually shift people's inner-thoughts.

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Related Videos and Pictures:

Nazis and Holocaust- a Product of Obedience?
Nazis and Holocaust - Product of Obedience?
Milgram's Experiment
Conducting Milgram's Experiment

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