Social-Psychological Explanations of Obedience Flashcards Preview

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What are the two social-psychological explanations for obedience?

Agentic State
Legitimacy of Authority


What is an agentic state?

This is the opposite of an autonomous state, individuals act on behalf of another authority figure, they therefore feel no sense of personal responsibility


What are binding factors?

Aspects of a situation that allow an individual to ignore or minimise the damaging effect of their behaviour and thus reduce the moral strain of obeying immoral orders


How may the agentic state explain obedience?

People may be more likely to obey in situations in which they feel limited personal responsibility - e.g guards for concentration camps


What is the legitimacy of authority explanation?

This explanation says that we live in hierarchal societies in which we hand over power to those at the top - we therefore are more likely to obey leaders and people at the top of society.


How are individuals given legitimate authority?

Through societies agreements - trust and upbringing enables us to hand control of our behaviour to authorities.


What possible problems can arise from handing over authority to individuals?

Charismatic and powerful leaders can use their power for destructive purposes.


What are the evaluation points for the social-psychological explanations of obedience?

+ There is research support for the agentic state explanation - students shown a film of Milgram's study placed the blame with the experimenter not teacher
- The agentic state explanation is limited - not everybody shifts to an agentic state all live in same situations, surely all should? Partial explanation
+ LoA accounts for cultural differences - Aus more likely to obey than Get. - due to diff lvls of acceptance of authority
- Provides an obedience alibi