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Obedience to a

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Obedience to Authorit

Obedience to Authority Obedience is a term that can take place in many forms and with diverse individuals, especially with those who are authoritative figures. With many forms of destruction and life-threatening violence taking place during the middle part of the 20th century, many psychologists and scientists took interest in how ordinary individuals reacted to individuals in authority. One psychology in particular, Stanley Milgram, conducted a series of experiments investigating individuals’ obedient behavior to authoritative figures, whether positive deeds or acts of violence. This paper will summarize Milgram’s famous research as well as analyze the most current research of conforming to authority. Additionally, this paper will examine the current research on Milgram's findings from the early part of the 1960s.
Summary of Milgram's Research Stanley Milgram (1963) was a social psychologist who set out to investigate human obedience, especially following the Second World War and in particular, the Holocaust (Milgram, 1963). Milgram’s interest was to conduct a study to answer the research question, are Germans different? However, as Milgram began to develop a tool used for studying obedience, he soon discovered that all individuals are remarkably obedient to people in authority. Milgram chose a naive subject to administer a dangerous electric shock to a victim, which releases voltage ranges from 15 to 450 (Milgram, 1963). Throughout the experiment, a naive participant is directed to administer more intense shocks to a victim as the role of the teacher were given memory tasks by reading lists of two word pairs and the learner was instructed to read them back. As the internal resistance became stronger, the participants can choose to no longer participate with the experiment; however, the behavior preceding this decision is deliberated as obedience as long as the subject obeys the orders of the experimenter (Milgram, 1963).
Methodology of the Study
The subjects consisted of 40 males between that ages of 20 and 50 taken from New Haven, along with surrounded communities. The subjects were brought in through a newspaper advertisement and direct mailing; however, they believed they were to participate in a study of memory and learning at Yale University (Milgram, 1963). The participants who responded comprised of postal workers, high school educators, salesmen, laborers, and engineers. The academic and professional levels of each participant were vastly diverse, and they were compensated for participating in the experiment.
Results of the Study
The study illustrated different results, in which the first study documented how the learner felt administrating the shocks to the subject. The results of Milgram’s first study showed that the learner was knowledgeable of the shocks they were giving the subject, even the most painful shocks; however, the model response of 14 subjects showed that it was extremely painful to administer the shocks. The primary results of Milgram’s study demonstrated that although some teachers refused to continue with the shocks early in the experiment, 65 percent of the participants completely obeyed the experimenter's orders, regardless of the substantial suffering cries from the learner. Additionally, the participants who reached 450 volts obeyed the experimenter's orders to continue administering higher shock levels until the experiment ended.
Milgram’s Interpretation of Results The understanding of the study denotes the reality that the participants voluntarily inflicted excruciating pain on other individuals through the commands of authoritative individuals. Although many participants demonstrated unusual behaviors as well as diverse negative emotions about continuing, they kept obeying the orders given by the individual in command to place harm. Milgram's findings prove that morals and ethics in some individuals weaken when exposed to external pressure. Social pressure is the result of the brutality Milgram's subjects demonstrated to the participants, in which they did not plan to cause pain on others; however they responded to the power of the experimenter's commands (Milgram, 1963).
Current Research of Individuals Conforming to Authority According to Education Digest, conforming to authority exhibits unique characteristics separate from obedience, in which obedience involves an order while conformity involves a request (2015). The concept that seems to be apparent is those individuals who conform are more likely to be obedient (Constable, Shuler, Klaber, & Rakauskas, 1999). For a group to conform, a leader must obtain the acceptability and reliability to influence the group's behavior. Constable et al (1999) depict conformity as a change in an individual’s behavior or opinion as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or group of people. This holds true in the Second World War, where the Nazi war criminals truly believed that they were committing brutal events for their country.
Current Research on Milgram's Findings Because Milgram’s research raised such an interest in psychologists and scientists, more research has been conducted throughout the years. However, some controversy has been developed concerning Milgram’s research study, such as Thomas Blass who reviewed further research on obedience and learned that Milgram’s findings are present in other experiments as well (Weiten, 2011). Researchers conducted a study in 2009 to imitate Milgram's obedience to authority experiment. Psychologist and author, Jerry Burger, explained the current results showed that participants obeyed the same as they did when Milgram conducted his study. Asch and Milgram (2011) conducted experiments within different societies to find if Milgram’s findings only take place within Western cultures. However, the phenomena of conformity and obedience excels in other cultures, resulting in higher reported obedience rates than those seen in Milgram's American samples (Weiten, 2011).
Conclusion
With the many studies conducted over the years to learn about obedience to authority, many questions still need to be answered and more research needs to be completed. As revealed throughout research, obedience is a type of societal influence in which an individual behaves in response to an order from another individual, as demonstrated in Milgram’s experiment (McLeod, 2007). Milgram’s (1963) experiment demonstrated that many participants would administer helpless victims’ fatal electric shocks when ordered to do so by individuals in authority. In later times, Milgram along with other psychologists, conducted a number of variations to the primary study to find out additional information about the specific dynamics which might influence obedience and conformity to obedience.

References
Constable, S., Shuler, Z., Klaber, L. & Rakauskas M. (1999). Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience. Retrieved from the web site http://www.units.miamioh.edu/psybersite/cults/cco.shtml
Education Digest. (2015). The Milgram Obedient Experiment. Retrieved from the web site http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/milgram.htm
McLeod, S, (2007). Simply Psychology: Obedience to Authority. Retrieved from the web site http://www.simplypsychology.org/obedience.html Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of Obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67 (4), 371-378.
Weiten. W., Dunn, D. S., & Hammer, E. Y. (2011). Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century. Belmon, CA: Wadsworth - Cengage Learning.
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