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• Obedience to authority = positive + negative

• Positive obedience = smooth running of society
• Negative obedience = terrible crimes e.g. Nazi, Tutsi and hutis- Rwanda

Explanations of obedience (Mailgram 1974)

• Legitimacy of the system- When system is not seen to be legitimate =

decrease in obedience
e.g. Milgrams study took place in Yale Uni (prestigious) = PPs would have
seen setting as legitimate and believed, in Uni harm to another would not take

• Legitimacy of authority – Power of individuals hold to give orders

because of their position in system.
PM in gov or general in army would have high degree of legitimacy.
e.g. in Milgram study experimenters wore white coats to make them lok like
scientists This gave them legitimacy of authority and therefore they were experts in
the mind of the deviant

• Legitimacy of demands or orders- order is perceived to be a legitimate area for authority figure.
If PM ordered people to not eat meat because he is a vegetarian would regard order not to be legitimate.
e.g. Milgram – teacher (PPs) was repeatedly asked and told to continue in the name of science , and experiment
demanded that they continue.

Dispositional (personality) factors affecting obedience

• Personality may explain why people obey authority

• Authoritarian personality associated with obedience to authority

Conventionalism + preoccupation with power + puritanical with power + superstion = authoritarian personality

• Authoritarian personality = obey orders and expect others to obey them

Defiance of authority (disobey) ---(why?)

• Feldman and Scheibe 1972

• Seeing another person disobey- ROCHAT AND MODIGLIANI 1995

• Variations in Milgrams classic experiment
• Hamilton 1978- individuals reminded that they are responsible for consequences of what they so = decrease
in obedience