[Solved] effect of authority

To explore the relationship between increased power or social status and a person’s likelihood to conform, forty high school students (5 boys and 5 girls from each grade level: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors) will be taken one at a time into a room with five confederates (classmates who are considered by their peers to be in the “popular crowd”). The participants will be shown a variety of simple addition problems (1+1 through 10+10) and will be asked to choose the correct answer to the equation from four answer choices.

To every question, the confederates will each answer the same incorrect answer. The hypothesis is that, over the course of the study, the participants will begin to answer the same incorrect answers as the “popular” confederates. The predicted results will demonstrate the theory that obedience to authority continues to have a strong impact on the decisions people will make. Effect of Authority on the Likelihood to Conform The events that occurred in Germany during Adolf Hitler’s reign as chancellor were devastating.

The list of questions people have regarding the Holocaust is extensive and covers multiple areas of psychology. It is natural for a few “bad apples” to reside in a large group of people. What people do not understand, however, is how Hitler managed to convince so many doctors, lawyers and even members of the clergy to become vicious and heartless killers. The Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, while on trial for his crimes to humanity, insisted his actions should not be punished because he was simply following the orders given to him by his leader (Borge, 2007).

Is this a significant excuse? Are people really so easy to manipulate? Does the amount of popularity or power an individual has increase the likelihood they can manipulate? With the multiple studies investigating the effect of authority on conformity, could an event such as the Holocaust happen again? The idea that people could be influenced by the level of authority one intrigued psychologist Stanley Milgram. He not only wanted to test whether or not this theory was true, he also wanted to see exactly how far he could take it.

How far would individuals go to follow morally questionable orders? In 1961, Milgram created an experiment in which participants were told they were assisting in a study to test the effects of punishment on learning. The study consisted of a participant and a confederate who were “randomly selected” to be either the participant or the learner (the selection was rigged, however, so the confederate was always the learner). Participants watched as the learner was attached to a shocking device, designed to administer a variety of voltage – ranging from 15 to 450 volts – to the learner.

The study was designed to test the ability of an individual to intentionally injure a stranger (Burger, 2009). The results of the study were shocking. Sixty-five percent of participants administered the shocks until the highest voltage, despite the screams of agony heard in the next room. Most of the participants in the study were men, which causes one to question whether the results for women are any different. According to Milgram’s Experiment 8, performed in 1974, they are not.

As a matter of fact, there were no differences at all in the percentages between men and women. Sixty-five percent of both genders were able to complete the experiment without stopping. This was, however, during a time when it was much easier to implement studies that were morally unsound. Though there has been a slight decrease in one’s ability to complete tasks that are morally questionable over the years, the numbers are still astounding. Why are people so convinced that an authority figure is someone they should obey, regardless of their own personal beliefs?

Also, when referring to an authority figure, especially in environments that include younger children, who are obviously more susceptible to conformity, how far does the title go? Could it include peers that are considered to be a part of the “in crowd”? Methods Participants Participants will include a random selection of forty high school students (5 boys and 5 girls from each grade level: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors) ages 14 to 18 years of age and from various social statuses.

The sample will be selected by asking teachers to recruit students from their classroom they think will be likely to participate. I will obtain informed consent from the parents of the students, and a reward (agreed upon by the teachers) will be provided. Materials In this experiment, the researcher will study the effect of peer influence in response to obvious questions. The experiment materials will consist of ten large pieces of poster board, each with a simple mathematical equation written on it.

Aside from those, the only materials the researcher will need are pen and paper to record the results. In this study, the independent variable (IV) will be the confederates, who will answer every addition problem incorrectly. The dependent variable (DV) will be the amount of questions it takes the participant to begin to answer in the same fashion as their classmates. Procedure Participants were run in forty groups of nine (one participant and eight confederates), and were placed in a normal sized classroom with a large table and nine surrounding chairs.

The table will be facing the front of the classroom, where the researcher will be sitting, with the poster board face down to his right. Participants will be given a few minutes to converse with their fellow classmates before the experiment begins. The researcher will hold up the math cards one at a time and request that each participant (starting at the left side of the table and working toward the right) say aloud the answer they think is correct. Each confederate will answer incorrectly and the reaction and answers of the participant will be recorded. Data Analysis

The researcher hopes to determine whether or not there is a positive or negative relationship between the actions of the popular crowd and how a high school student responds to a question in a way he or she knows is incorrect. The researcher will then use a one-way ANOVA to determine if there will be any significance in the findings of the study. The experiment has only one manipulation, which will be the confederates that continue to answer the questions incorrectly. The dependent variable of this study will be the amount of mathematical problems it takes the participant to begin to answer the questions the same way as his or her peers do.

Implications Participants are expected to answer approximately three mathematical problems correctly, before their answers begin to change to match those of their classmates. With the popular students in the study acting as the authoritative figures in the study, the results will demonstrate whether or not obedience to authority is still somewhat in effect. If this is true, one might question whether or not an event such as the Holocaust could potentially happen sometime soon.


Blass, T. (1999). The Milgram paradigm after 25 years: some things we know now about obedience to authority. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://www3. interscience. wiley. come. libdata. ua. edu/cgi-bin/fulltext/119067604/PDFSTART Borge, C. (2007, January 3). Basic Instincts: The science of evil. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from ABC News: Primetime Web site: http://www. abcnews. go. com/Primsetime/story? id=2765416&page=1 Burger, J. (2009, January). Replicating Miglram: Would people still obey today? American Psychologists, 64 Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://ww. sciencedirect. com/libdata. lib. ua. du/science? _ob=MImg&_Imagekey=B6WY2-4VHF815-1 Passini, S. (2009, April). Authority relationships between obedience and disobedience. New Ideas in Psychology, 27, from http://www. science direct. com. libdata. lib. ua. edu. science? _ob=articleURL&_udi=B6VD4-4T4J1C3-1&_user=446476 Twenge, J. M. (2009, January). Change over time in obedience: The jury’s still our, but it may be decreasing. American Psychologist, 64, Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://sciencedirect. com. libdata. lib. ua. edu/science? _ob=MImg&_imagekey=B6WY2-4VHF8150-4-1

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