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Human Obedience: The Myth of Blind Conformity

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ScienceDaily (Nov. 20, 2012) — In the 1960s and 1970s, classic social psychological studies were conducted that provided evidence that even normal, decent people can engage in acts of extreme cruelty when instructed to do so by others. However, in an essay published November 20 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, Professors Alex Haslam and Stephen Reicher revisit these studies' conclusions and explain how awful acts involve not just obedience, but enthusiasm too -- challenging the long-held belief that human beings are 'programmed' for conformity.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120193529.htm

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I think both conclusions are probably true: some people become mindless in their obedience to authority and commit cruel acts against others(mainly because they are in fear for their own safety?), others are convinced by their 'masters' that what they are doing is justified.

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I think I could believe in blind conformity..there's just so many horrific examples through history of a mass populace just obeying for the sake of obeying a high authority figure. Ie, Nazi era.

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I think I could believe in blind conformity..there's just so many horrific examples through history of a mass populace just obeying for the sake of obeying a high authority figure. Ie, Nazi era.

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This part here I agree with, it sound like how some cults/religions control their people and get them to do the dirty work.

However, Professor Haslam, from the University of Queensland, argues that tyranny does not result from blind conformity to rules and roles. Rather, it is a creative act of followership, resulting from identifying with authorities who represent vicious acts as virtuous.

"Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe -- typically under the influence of those in authority -- that what they are doing is right," Professor Haslam explained.

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A person is intelligent, but a mob is a thoughtless, savage beast.

Also, I think, some people do bad things under order because they can, in their mind, justify their cruelty by saying that they just followed order and that their conscience are clear.

Regarding mobs, and also those taking orders, who do harm are quite suggestible. They find a sense of belonging and safety in a mob/group to the extent that they are ready to give up on every instinct that tells them what they are doing is wrong, and follow the mobs every whim instead.

I think this applies only to a certain number of individuals though, just like not every person are suggestible to be hypnotized, or being influenced by propaganda or advertisement.

I think it was Derren Brown who claimed that somewhere around 1/3 of the population are suggestible enough to be hypnotized, and that he can spot them quite easily. Be that as it may, I think that there are persons who are not going to be run by a mob-mentality, and that they are able to resist that and make their own decisions regardless the peer-pressure.

Of course every person will say that they belong to that percentage that resist, and that they are their own man and in full control of what they will and will not do. Because, who would admit to being a follower?

But history shows the opposite.

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I'm sure a big influence will be what may happen to you or your loved ones if you don't obey. A 'softer' version of this is when we work long hours at jobs that we don't particularly approve of or like, but we do them because we have to support ourselves and our families.

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I also believe that this study is not far from being true. We have seen a lot of examples in the news and I sense that when the people around you are doing it or are okay with it, you somehow have the guts to do the same thing, no matter how bad or cruel it is.

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Give a person a reason to believe that what they are doing is right then you can get to follow or do anything.

Survival and fear are two of the best motivators for this.

It's easier in groups because of the whole outcast is bad image and come on 1 vs crazy mob isn't exactly a fair fight.

Then again what's the difference between self-defense and murder or good and evil? somebody's point of view.

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Stanley Milgram's experiments revealed much about this issue, and the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo also revealed much about the dark side of the human condition.

Obedience to authority is a very strong motivating factor for some, and perhaps not so much for others. Our school systems and organized religion greatly encourage obedience to authority.

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Obedience to authority is a very strong motivating factor for some, and perhaps not so much for others. Our school systems and organized religion greatly encourage obedience to authority.

To say nothing of the authority of our parents right from day one(almost!), 24/7, all year round!

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To say nothing of the authority of our parents right from day one(almost!), 24/7, all year round!

To say nothing of the authority of our parents right from day one(almost!), 24/7, all year round!

And so one must wonder how orphans develop.,..

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And so one must wonder how orphans develop.,..

Well, they usually have someone in loco parentis, don't they?

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Every culture accepts norms that will be looked on with horror by those who come after. Before civil rights for instance, or slavery, or the putting to children to death for stealing bread etc, these were accepted by most as normal and right....accept for those who were the victims of course and perhaps a few others who were before their time. Today, I believe it is abortion and the acceptance of the breakdown of the family that seems to be accepted and applauded by many. I am also affected by these trends. In the past, not so far back, men abusing their wifes and children was considered normal and women and children had no recourse.....I guess we all have our list. The point is that in the future, say in 100 years, if we continue to develop, then we will be judged by their higher standard.....or not, things may get worse in fact.

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Well, they usually have someone in loco parentis, don't they?

Yes they do!

And so often that agent is a church of some sort. And eventually the question becomes, how much of the final product is genetic, and how much is conditioning? Fascinating subject.

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