Why Do People Obey

Although obedience has both negative and positive sides it depends on the circumstances to which it is concerned. there are plenty such examples throughout history where one group of people kill another group, for example the Nazis regime ordering German soldiers to torture and kill millions of innocent Jews at the time of the Second World War. (D Pennington, 2008) Milgram’s study discovered the obedience level went down when the experimenter appeared illegitimate and was not wearing a lab coat. “To Just 20 per cent giving maximum shock” (D Pennington, 2008).

A face to face order has more influence because in Milgram’s study when the experimenter left the room during the experiment the level of obedience went down. The relevance of these findings is that obedience can be defined as submitting to the demands of others, particularly those in position of power. We believe that people in influence have some expertise or knowledge, and therefore we think they know more than us.

For this reason we have a higher tendency to defer responsibility for our action to their authority.

When it comes to authority figure, people would obey the authority even though the participants were being asked for to do something that they know is wrong. However, Rank and Jacobson (1977) did find that when the drug was a well-known one (Valium) only 2 out of 18 nurses obeyed in a similar set up to Hoflings. (http://www. smartpsych. co. uk/evaluation-of-the-hofling-et-al-1966-study). Hofling demonstrated that “people are unwilling to question supposed ‘authority’ even when they might have good reason” (McLeod, S.

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Why People Obey

Obedience is now declining compared to previous generations, where people had to obey even if it is against their determination. According to Milgram’s study the participants were obeying the authority’s figure even though they were suffering distress. When obeying the authority there is less freedom for the individual. Some psychologists would say that “it is the situation the people find themselves in rather than their dispositions that best explains their actions. ”


BANYARD, P. AND GRAYSON, A. (2000) Introducing Psychological Research; Seventy Studies that Shape Psychology, 2nd Edition. London: Macmillan

GROSS, R. (1999) Key Studies in Psychology, 3rd Edition. London: Hodder and Stoughton

McLeod, S. (2007) Obedience in Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/obedience.html. Accessed 20.1.12

Milgram, S. (1974) .obedience to authority: an experimental view .New York: Harper and row. An excellent presentation of milgram’s work is also found in Brown, R. (1986) .social forces in obedience and rebellion .social psychology: the second Edition. New York.

http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/milgram.htm (Accessed 28/10/11)

http://www.holah.karoo.net/milgramstudy.htm (29/10/11).

http://www.simplypsychology.org/hofling-obedience.html(accessed 27/10/11)

(http://www.smartpsych.co.uk/evaluation-of-the-hofling-et-al-1966-study). (Accessed 29/10/11)

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Why Do People Obey. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-5522-why-do-people-obey/

Why Do People Obey
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