Obediance and Deindividuation

Essay by beepydaveUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, August 2004

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Most, if not all humans, have some ethics and morals, which help the individual make distinctions between right and wrong. Therefore, in most situations human beings behave in accordance with their morality. Studies on notions such as obedience to authority and deindividuation have shown that in some cases, an individual can be made to act in direct opposition to their morals and ethics. Studies conducted by Milgram (1963) on obedience have shown that if an individual is ordered to do something by someone who is perceived to be in power, it is possible that they will do it, even if it is something the person does not believe is right. Also, studies conducted by Zimbardo (1973) on deindividuation have shown that a normally healthy, intelligent person can lose their identity in a crowd, and commit acts of violence and aggression which they would not normally commit. According to the deindividuation theory, this is because the individual feels that they can no longer be singled out and held personally responsible for behaviour.

The studies conducted by Zimbardo (1973) and Milgram (1963) have been examined and compared in this essay.

The notions of obedience and deindividuation have been the subject of some very informative and sometimes disturbing research by social psychologists. Obedience is defined by Moghaddam (1998) as: "changes in behaviour that arise when people follow the instructions of persons in authority." Our tendency to comply with authority figures can be surprisingly strong (Bourne & Russo, 1998). Experiments on the subject, particularly those conducted by Milgram (1963) have shown that though obedience is, in many forms positive, it can also be extremely negative, instigating individuals to commit acts of violence or aggression, of which they would not normally partake.

Deindividuation is defined by Moghaddam (1998) as: "The loss of one's sense...