• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Obedience to Authority: Milgram & Zimbardo

Extracts from this document...


Obedience to Authority: Milgram & Zimbardo "Obedience is a virtue, disobedience is a vice" (Fromm 267). In "Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem", the author Erich Fromm implies that "to be a human an individual must be free to obey and disobey" (272). Being obedient requires the removal of freedom, which comes from expressing your thoughts, feelings and emotions, without any boundaries or pressures from other individuals. An obedient individual is submissive towards another's' will and does not have very much freedom. Obedience occurs and can be analyzed when there is a setting of power and expectations to follow authority and a shift in viewpoint. The Stanford Prison Experiment can be interpreted in terms of Milgram's findings on submission to authority. In "The Perils of Obedience", Stanley Milgram conducts an experiment where individuals are forced to violate their conscience and to either obey or disobey the dissolute demands of an authority. The experiment tests the extent to which individuals will obey immoral commands when they are ordered to inflict pain on to learners. ...read more.


They made the prisoners feel "powerless, arbitrarily controlled, dependent, frustrated, hopeless, anonymous, dehumanized and emasculated" (Zimbardo 256), simply because they were obeying rules. The authoritarian nature of the guards became serious when they "insulted the prisoners, threatened them, were physically aggressive, used instruments to keep the prisoners in line and referred to them in impersonal, anonymous, deprecating ways" (260). In order to fit into the setting the guards were in competition with each other to be stronger and more respected. They wanted to follow "the behavior of the good guards [which] seemed more motivated by a desire to be liked by everyone in the system than by a concern for the inmates' welfare" (261). We learn that if the setting requires an individual to become an authoritarian, others will be submissive and obedient towards them. Also, the expectations to follow authority are highly regarded until a shift in viewpoint occurs within the individuals. A shift in viewpoint occurs when an individual realizes what they have done or are doing is not civilized and wrong. ...read more.


It's almost like a prison that you create yourself-you get into it, and it becomes almost the definition you make of yourself." (261) The guard implies that you become a prisoner of your own obedience. He treated the prisoners unfairly because he wanted to be seen as a "good" prison guard. As a result, at the end of the experiments, the teachers and prison guards don't see themselves as being responsible for their actions; they hold others responsible for their actions. The teacher's implicitly blame the experimenter and the prison guards implicitly blame the higher authority. In order to be obedient, individuals must be provoked by some sort of authority for the shift of viewpoint to prevail and become successful. Milgram implies that, "[obedience is] socially organized evil in modern society" (233). Therefore, in conclusion, obedience is a vice because it is an immoral practice, which causes human beings to play the blame-game in life. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Conformity & Obedience to Authority.

    In the experiments, it was proved that people are less likely to conform when they are in private than in a room with others. � When they are not sure of something and the rest of the group is, they are more likely to conform as they do not want

  2. Were Milgram and Zimbardo unethical?

    Obedience rates were way higher. Two thirds of volunteers went up to 450V. No one stopped before 275V! These results surprised everyone, including Milgram. No one expected to find so many people prepared to give 450V shocks to a stranger! What's important is that you remember what the results were and possible reasons for them,

  1. In his 1963 study, The Perils of Obedience, Stanley Milgram showed us that we ...

    People back then wanted to believe that the Germans had some genetic deficiency in which they were naturally brutal, sadist creatures, but Milgram showed that this idea (no matter how much he and his peers subconsciously wanted it to be)

  2. Why do we obey authority?

    In fact, although it appeared to, the generator did not emit any electrical shock at all. The actor was instructed to cry out at 150 volts and intensify the level of verbal reaction as the volts increased. At 300 volts he was instructed to pound on the wall, later ceasing to reply or make any further noise.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work