SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY ESSAY
“Why do people obey?”
“It’s always a simple matter to drag people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to great danger.”(Quote by Herman Goring, Hitler’s Commander of Nazi Storm Troopers, 1893 -1946)
Obedience is a socially induced way of thinking that influences individuals to follow the orders and/or commands of those who are deemed to hold a higher level of authority over everyday life. While this is also true of Conformity, obedience is a more conscious manner of action. When individuals relinquish their own autonomy for the benefit of the larger group, they are no longer individual but products of conformity.
Obedience to authority can become dangerous when morality and independent thought are stifled to the point that harm is inflicted upon another person. "The Perils of Obedience," by Stanley Milgram reports on his controversial experiment that tested how far individuals would go in obeying orders, even if carrying out those orders caused serious harm to others. In Ian Parker's article, "Obedience," he introduces the concept of situational forces influencing how one would react in a given situation. He points out that people will behave according to where they are and not necessarily because of whom they are. And in "The Stanford Prison Experiment," by Philip K. Zimbardo, he discusses the results of his controversial experiment designed to examine the ability of individuals to resist authoritarian or obedient roles, if the setting and circumstances required those roles.
Milgram summarizes his experimental findings on obedience to an authority in what some would view as dispassionate detail. Subjects in the experiment are seen suffering over the actions they should take with their moral dilemmas. Obedience is a basic structure...