His findings showed that, two-thirds of this studies participants fall into the category of obedient subjects, and that they represent ordinary people (p. Milgram concluded that when a person is obeying orders he views himself as the instrument… and no longer regards himself as responsible for his action (p. Milgram s experiment proved that when doing a job as instructed by an authority figure the feelings of duty and personal emotion are separated.
Another important study in the area of social roles and obedience is Philip Zimbardo s Stanford Prison Experiment.
A group of 21 college men were divided into two groups for a study on group dynamics.
His work, The Perils of Obedience, studied whether average individuals would obey an authority figure, telling them to do something that harms another individual.
In his study, the teacher is instructed to read a list of words and ask the learner to recite them back.
Zimbardo writes, abnormal social and personal reactions are best seen as a product of…
an environment that supported the behavior (p.374). One s desire to be accepted can make them unaware of conformity or obedience to authority. The problem lies not only within the group, but also the individual s acceptance of authority without question. Lessing s essay helps set the context to understand the experiments that social psychologists Solomon Asch, Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo conducted to explain conformity and obedience. Solomon Asch s experiment in Opinions and Social Pressure studied a subject s ability to yield to social pressure when placed within a group of strangers. The single individual who was not privy to this information was the focal point of the experiment. Twelve out of eighteen times the unsuspecting individual went along with the majority, dispelling his beliefs in favor of the opinions of the group. Responsibility shifts in the minds of the subordinate from himself/herself to the authority figure. There is a purpose for the actions or goals of the authority, and the subordinate is depended upon to meet those goals. but we also find our thinking changing because we belong to a group (p. Groups have the tendency to generate norms, or standards for behavior in certain situations. Not following these norms can make you stand out and, therefore, groups have the ability to influence our thoughts and actions in ways that are consistent with the groups .