Outline and evaluate explanations of obedience

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Outline and evaluate explanations of obedience

There are several proposed explanations of obedience that can be separated into two sub categories, situational factors and individual factors.

Legitimate authority is one explanation of attachment and it refers to the people that appear to have power or authority. For instance, a person wearing a uniform may seem to have authority and for this reason a person may choose to obey them as shown in Bickman (74). Bickman directly tested the effect of a uniform in his field experiment in New York in which he asked passersby to pick up a piece of litter, stand the other side of a stop side or give a stranger money. Half of the time the person giving the order was dressed in a security guard’s uniform and the rest of the time in street clothes. This idea can also be applied to settings, if a setting seems formal and gives the impression of legitimacy then it is speculated obedience levels will increase as demonstrated in Milgram’s study in combination with some of the variations of his study.
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Another explanation of obedience is when there are buffers present. If there are buffers there are aspects of the situation that protect people from having to deal with the consequences of their actions. For instance in Milgram’s experiment, the participants were placed in different rooms to the learners that they were administering the shocks to. The participants therefore did not have to see the effect of the shocks on the learners and were effectively just pressing buttons with no visibly consequence, which is debatably a reason why there were such high levels of obedience in Milgram’s study.


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