Outline and Evaluate Explanations of Obedience to Authority ?

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Gradual commitment explains obedience in terms of the individual being asked to perform trivial, seemingly harmless tasks. Once the person has complied with such requests, they find it increasingly difficult to refuse to carry out more serious requests. The Milgram study showed that if the participant goes to 150 volts , they will most likely follow through to 450 volts. Thus the participant commits once they have committed harmless inflictions. Buffers , the term ‘buffer’ is used to refer any aspect of a situation that protects people from having to confront the consequences of their actions. Buffers can readily be seen in Milgram’s experiment. For example, when the teacher and learner were in different rooms, the basic obedience rate was 65%. However, when they were in the same room (no physical buffer) the obedience rate dropped to 40%. Milgram believed they acted as a mechanism to help people cope with the strain of having to obey an immoral command. Agentic shift , people usually operate in an autonomous state behaving voluntarily and aware of the consequences following their actions. When Milgram’s participants were debriefed , many reported that they knew it was wrong to deliver dangerous electric shocks, but that they felt the experimenter was responsible and not them. Authoritarian personality is another explanation of obedience. It is that an individuals personality may make them more or less inclined to obey an authority figure. the characteristics of the authoritarian personality are rigid beliefs and submissive attitudes towards authority figures. individuals with this personality type are therefore more likely to be obedient. An example of such is the Bickman study , in which actors were dressed in outfits such as a suit or a security guard uniform and the level of obedience to authority was measured through the actors giving members of the
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