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Destructive Obedience

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					Destructive
Obedience
 Sunita Subance
 George Nasiakos
 15 October 2008
   Destructive?




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                         if
What is “obedience”?
   What is “obedience”?


• Definitions
   – “The quality or state of willingly carrying
     out the wishes of others” (Answers.com)
   – “... the instrument for carrying out another
     person’s wishes...” (Milgram, 1974)
    Obedience vs. Conformity
    Both refer to “abdication of initiative to an external
                  source” (Milgram, 1974)



Obedience                     Conformity
•   Hierarchy                  •   Equal status
•   Carrying out an order      •   Imitating others
•   Explicit                   •   Implicit
•   Embraced                   •   Denied
Objectives of Milgram
       Studies
•   An attempt to account for atrocities of the
    Holocaust
•   To determine whether Germans alone
    demonstrate such adherence to obedience.
    (Yale Study seeked to compare obedience
    levels of Americans vs Germans.)
•   Expand on Asch’s conformity studies to
    understand human behavior that was more
    significant and practical.
•   To understand the underlying dynamics of
    obedience to those in power.
  Overview of Milgram’s
       Experiment
  - 40 Males between ages 20-50 from New Haven
                      area.

       -Two participants- teacher and learner

 -Teacher was required to administer electric shock
                when learner made a
mistake with each subsequent shock increasing by 15
                       volts.

-Labels ranged from ‘Slight Shock to Danger:Severe
                      Shock.
    Milgram’s Findings
•   Data revealed 65% (26 subjects)
    showed        full        obedience
    administering full levels of shock.
•    One third refused to participated
    further.
•   Physical         Distance-greater
    distance between the teacher and
    learner the greater level of
    obedience displayed.
•   Power of the social situation over
    one’s personal disposition.
 Experimental Conditions

•   Experimental conditions


“remote feedback”: pounding on the wall at 300 volts
   (34% defiance)
“voice feedback”: heard through walls and door left
   slightly ajar (37.5% defiance)
“proximity”: same room, 1 ½ feet apart (60% defiance)
“touch-proximity’: place victim’s hand on shock plate
   (70% defiance)
      Variations in the
    Milgram experiments
•    Changes in the relationship between the
     subject and experimenter.
•    Proximity of authority
•    - Obedience dropped significantly when
     experimenter was not physically present
     and compliance dropped by 30% when
     teachers were required to force learners’
     hands into contact with the shock plate.
•    Use of women as subjects in one
     experimental condition.
Milgram ofAfter 35 years
• Superiority legitimate authority
•   -Obligation to obey
•   -Authority defines the meaning of an
    action
•   Destructive Obedience (role of legitimate
    authority)
•   The Agentic State-
•   - participants give up responsibility to the
    authority
•   -subjects who obey seen as agents of the
    authority
What breeds obedience
•   Emotional distance of the victim
•   Closeness and legitimacy of the authority
•   Institutional Authority
•   Effects of group influence (as seen in
    conformity studies)
•   Belief that leaders have more ethical responsibility
•   Low leadership self-efficacy
    Conclusions


•   Milgram found that in the right social setting
    any individual can become agents in a terrible
    destructive process.
•   Actions performed were not unique solely to
    the Germans in the Holocaust.
•   There was no difference in the levels of
    obedience displayed by males and females
    alike.
    Constructive Obedience

•   Obedience that benefits and improves society
    as a whole.
•   Framework for moral order
•   Examples:
•   Rules in school settings
•   Military camp training
•   The legal system
     Why obedience is
       necessary?
•   -To maintain social order in the society
•   -As a form of socializing children into
    expected norms.
•   Regulates deviant behavior
•   Facilitates development of social
    relationships
•   Development of a moral code of behavior.
•   Allows for goal fulfillment (in some
    instances)
      Discussion time!
Were you in a situation in which you were given
    an order you felt wrong, but feared the
 repercussions of contravening the perceived
                   authority?
      Examples of
“Destructive obedience”


         video
       Challenger Disaster
             (1986)
• Failure of “O-ring”
• “... bullied or
  bamboozled into
  acquiescence.” (Oberg,
  2006, MSNBC)
• “Mason finally turned to
  Bob Lund and said,
  “Take off your
  engineering hat and put
                                            http://www.space-
  on your management         video.info/images/shuttle/Challenger51Lcrew.jpg

  hat.”” (Engineering
  Ethics, Texas A&M)
Challenger Disaster
      (1986)




   http://onlineethics.org/Object.File/Master/7/247/joint
                            .gif
        Hofling et al. Nurse
           Study (1966)

• Authorization of lethal
  dosage
• Order administered
  through telephone
• 21 of 22 nurses
  complied, had to be
  stopped                   http://www1.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/
                             2505925/2/istockphoto_2505925-vintage-syringe.jpg
   My Lai Massacre (1968)
• Mass murder of
  civilians by U.S. troops:
  347 by U.S. records,
  504 by local accounts
  (Wikipedia, 2008)
• Mike Wallace interview
  (Milgram, 1974)
• Reaction to Lt. Calley’s
                              http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~walters/web%20104/
  conviction (Kelman &                         60s%20my_lai.jpg

  Lawrence, 1972)
      “Third Wave” (1969)
• Ron Jones attempted to
  recreate Nazi Germany
  atmosphere in
  classroom
• “Third Wave” order
  expanded rapidly
• Students commanded
  strict obedience from
  newcomers, tattled on     http://www.paloaltohistory.com/sitebuilder/images/cu
  other students, bullied                bberley2007-467x340.jpg

  anyone who took things
  lightly
 Flight 5719, Minnesota
         (1993)
• Descended too quickly, crashed before
  contacting runway
• Captain exerted strong authority in cockpit
• First officer “new probationary employee”,
  thus unlikely to challenge captain’s authority
  • Fear of jeopardizing career
• See Tarnow (2000)
        Jane Akre & Steve
          Wilson (1997)
• Investigation of rBGH
  (bovine growth
  hormone), manufactured
  by Monsanto
• Pressure from FOX to
  portray corporation
  more favourably
• Refusal to obey resulted   http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE2/A
                              kre-Wilson-Goldman-rBGH2.jpg
  in termination
• Recipients of Goldman
  Environmental Prize
  (Martin, 2001)
      Nancy Olivieri (1998)

• Discovered hazardous
  side-effects of
  deferiprone, intended to
  treat thalassemia
• Apotex threatened
  action if findings were
  released (Shuchman,
  2002)
                             http://www.cmaj.ca/content/vol166/is

• U of T sided with               sue4/images/small/34ffua.gif


  Apotex against Olivieri
     Friendly Fire Incident
            (2002)
• Four Canadian soldiers
  killed, eight wounded
• Pilot convicted of
  dereliction; wingman
  accepted reprimand and
  agreed to retire
• Instructed during
  briefing “Taliban was    http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/friendl
                                    yfire/whotheywere.html
  active in the area”
  (CBC, 2005)
           War Resistance
• Resisters migrating to
  Canada
   – Viet Nam (1960s &
     1970s)
   – Iraq (2003- )
   – War Resisters in
     Canada
• Conscientious Objectors
   – Milgram’s participant
     (Viet Nam)
   – Kevin Benderman
     Bridges Collapsing
• Quebec Bridge (1907, 1916)
• Laval Overpass (2006)
• I-35-W Bridge, Minnesota (2007)
• Obedience a factor?
  – Engineers
  – Inspectors
  – Managers
   Melamine in Milk (2008)

• Farmers squeezed by
  price controls
  – Incentive in diluting
    milk or adding
    chemicals
• Regulators taking
  bribes, favouring
                            http://www.chinayqg.com/pic/%E4%B8%89%E
  certain distributors         8%81%9A%E6%B0%B0%E8%83%BA1.gif

  (Barboza, 2008, NYT)
    Concept of Agentic state
•   -Main focus- authority figure as opposed to
    the victim.
•   Lack of concern for morality aspect
•   Contributing Factors to Agentic State:
•   Binding Factors:
•   -Initial Acts of Obedience binds the agent to
    the authority
•   Externalizing Responsibility
•   Justification-obedience acts reinforce each
    other.
 Important aspects of
      obedience
(Contributory Factors)
•   Role of Antecedent Conditions:
•   -Personality Characteristics that predisposes
    one to Obedience
•   Authoritarian Submission-passive,uncritical
    attitude towards those in authority.
•   Agents of authority are carefully screened-
    case of the military
•   Socialization Role in development of
    obedience traits.
      Other Forms of
     Authority (Sennett,
           1980)
• Paternalism
  – “an authority of false love”
  – e.g. Pullman Workers’ Strike (1894)
  – e.g. Lenin, Stalin
• Autonomy
  – Indifference establishes authority
    (totalitarian regimes, bureaucracies, etc.)
     Reduction of Strain
      (Milgram, 1974)
• Avoidance
• Denial
• Minimal compliance
• Subterfuge
• Abrogation of personal responsibility
• Physical symptoms
• Dissent
• Disobedience
Underlying Processes
 guiding obedience

•   Authorization- power of the authority
    figure
•   Routinization
•   Dehumanization (destructive obedience
    such as the Holocaust,My Lai Massacre)
 Major Replication of
•Milgram’s experiment
  Partial Replication-Jerry Burger
•   Used Milgram’s approach with the
    following changes:
•   -150 Volts cut-off mark
•   - Two step screening process
•   -Emphasis placed on informing participants
    they can withdraw at any time without
    penalty.
•   Lower sample shock
•   Reduction in physical distance (participants
    heard learners’ reactions)
     Replication cont’d
•   Reducing lapse times.
•   Allowance for discontinuation if participant
    showed excessive levels of stress.
•   Results:
•   People’s rate of obedience to the
    experimenter’s demands showed no
    difference between the present and 45
    years ago.
Possible Considerations
•   150 volts “critical decision point”, as disobedience
    most frequently occurred here, most likely due to
    participant’s perception that learner had the right to
    terminate (first instance when learner requests
    termination)
Noncompliance ascribed either to cognitive dissonance
  (increasingly difficult to acknowledge subsequent
  pleas after ignoring first one) or foot-in-the-door
  (difficult to disobey larger requests after acquiescing
  to smaller one)
       Ethics and milgram
             studies
•   Issue of Deception
•   Unethical by today’s REB standards.
•   Impact on the self concept of participants
•   Psychological stress caused -unjustifiable
•   ‘The cruelty inflicted by these studies upon
    their unwitting subjects is surpassed only by
    the cruelty that they elicit from them’-New
    York Times Reviewer
Milgram studies and the
  Tri- Council Code.


•   Failure to meet the requirements of:
•   Non Maleficence
•   Beneficence
       The End



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