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Social Psychology Contribution: Understanding and Reducing Blind Obedience

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on 19 April 2013

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Transcript of Social Psychology Contribution: Understanding and Reducing Blind Obedience

Understanding and Reducing
Blind Obedience Agency Theory Social Learning theory Evaluation Helps authority figures to understand not to abuse their power
Disproves the 'German's are different' hypothesis
Explain genocide e.g. stops Holocaust reoccurring
Helps with nursing training Hofling's experiment brought to light the dangers of ... Strengths and weaknesses of the contribution Social Psychology Contribution What is blind obedience? What is the contribution to society? Theory proposed by Milgram which states that we exist in two states, agentic and autonomous, which we switch between depending on when we are faced by an authority figure 1. Autonomous State: Your conscious is fully intact and you are aware of the consequences of your actions due to having your own independence 2. Agentic State: Autonomy, free will and conscious is repressed and you act as an agent for the authority figure; Pass the blame onto the the authority figure.
This could cause moral strain which is the consequence of going against your own autonomy. We identify with our in group (people who have common traits with us e.g. black hair) to establish our in-group identity. In order to do this, we accept the group norms in order to boost our self esteem.
Therefore blind obedience happens as we follow the orders of the group leader ( i.e. the authority figure) and so are in the agentic state Proposed by Tajfel who suggested that we establish in groups and out groups to order to boost self-esteem. Milgram Strengths Three of the studies mentioned use controlled methods , with two being conducted in labs. Therefore strong control over extraneous variables making the studies reliable. Milgram's findings are reliable the study is replicable due to its standardised procedure which means it can be tested for reliability. This increases the credibility of the findings and therefore is more likely to be used as a scientific method in society.
We can generalise findings to other cultures as Meeus and Raaijmaker's study was in the Netherlands and had similar findings to Milgram.
Furthermore, Hofling's research adds another dimension to the research as we can use it to train nurses in the medical profession to have more independence. This shows that the contribution is important in improving healthcare and is therefore benefiting society. Weaknesses Meeus and Raaijmakers study had similar findings to Milgram but we should question whether the Netherlands is that different to the USA. It might not be appropriate therefore to generalise to collective cultures. Therefore the extent of the contribution is unclear.

There are differing explanations of obedience as Milgram put forward the agency theory and Zimbardo suggests obedience to be due to social power and the social identity theory. Differing theories and explanations therefore may affect the contribution to society. It is when an individual goes against their own autonomy and free will in order to act as an agent for the authority figure even though it means potentially having a negative effect.
e.g. the Holocaust Milgram conducted a lab experiment which aimed to investigate whether participants ( 45 25-50 year old male volunteers from a newspaper ad) would cause harm to another person if told to do so by an authority figure.
Supports the agency theory
Participants were told it was a teacher-learner study
They were asked to administer shocks increasing from 15-450volts to the learner (confederate) if they got an answer wrong.
The findings of the study were that 100% of participants went to 350 volts and 65% went to 450 volts(maximum voltage)
Participants clearly showed distress e.g. nervous laughter, epileptic fits which were the result of moral strain
The conclusion of the study was that participants were in the agentic state and were willing to physically harm another person in order to follow the instructions of the researchers ( the authority figure) and acted as an agent for them which therefore demonstrates the effects of blind obedience Hofling Tajfel Conducted a lab study with a group of 64 school boys.
Split the group into two and asked to participate in a fake art task.
They were shown slides of painting by artists Klee and Kandinsky
Afterwards they were asked to do a points allocation task
The points were tied therefore if they gave themselves 7 points, the other group would get 1 point
The findings show that the highest points chosen was 7-1.
There was evidence for strong in group favoritism although there was no need for conflict.
Tajfel demonstrated an alternative explanation of obedience in which the schoolboys saw the other group as competition and were willing to give themselves the least amount of points in order to boost their self esteem as part of the in group
However blind obedience was demonstrated as they may have followed a group leader ( authority figure) and allocated the least amount of points to the other group. Meeus and Raaijmaker Conducted a lab study in the Netherlands in which participants were asked to make 15 increasingly distressing comments during an interview regarding how well the applicant (confederate) was doing on a test.
Success on the test meant that the applicant would get the job
The applicant became more distressed as the experiment continued
The participants were seen as obedient
92% obeyed but reported that they 'intensely disliked' the experience and only obeyed because they thought that it would aid the applicant in getting the job.
96% thought it was a real life situation
During that time, there was an exaggerated strain to help as it was hard to find employment in the Netherlands.
Participants were willing to cause the applicant psychological harm in order to fulfill the instructions of the authority figure which demonstrates the negative effects that blind obedience has. Phrases like, " If you carry on like this you will fail" Verbal probs given during the experiment were phrases like, " the experiment must continue" Conducted a field experiment in over 12 hospitals across the United States.
Nurses received a call from a doctor, whom they have never met (confederate)
Asked them to administer 20mg (double the maximum dosage: an overdose) of Astroten ( a placebo) to a patient.
21/22 nurses administered the overdose
11 didn't event notice that it was an overdose
10/12 graduate nurses and all degree nurses said they would not have given the overdose but they did.
Showed that they were willing to potentially harm the patient by following the orders of the doctor and by passing the blame over to the authority figure demonstrated that they were in the agentic state and therefore further supports the theory of blind obedience. All these studies demonstrated blind obedience The findings show that the majority of participants were following the instructions of the authority figure by causing harm, psychologically and physically to the confederate.
These studies show why blind obedience occurs and therefore give us an idea about how it can be reduced. THE END Zimbardo Zimbardo set up a mock prison in the basement of Stanford University in America. He wished to investigate if the brutality found in many American prisons at the time was a consequence of the personality of the guards or identification with the social roles in which they are placed.
Randomly allocated group of male participants into prisoners and guards.
They conformed to their roles.
Prisoners started by resisting guards authority by sticking together
Guards harassed and humiliated the prisoners.
It shows how easily people conform to roles and obey others
Guards and prisoners adopted roles quickly
Zimbardo portrays an alternative view of obedience by focusing on social dynamics as opposed to being in the agentic state
(similar to Abu Gharib: KEY ISSUE)
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