April 25, 2020
Obedience to authority is a key issue in a given institution in that it contributes to its success. It is also instrumental in the maintenance in an organization. Nevertheless, there are several instances in which people are forced to do things against their will. Most of the people submit to the available authorities because they are socialized to, always, obey authority. As a result, people end up engaging themselves in destructive processes in the name exercising obedience to their authorities. Therefore, obedience to authority is seldom an appropriate option taken in order to achieve its objectives.
In his study, Milgram asserts that authority sometimes make people tae actions against their moral values and beliefs. In his experiment with the Yala University students, it is clear that many subjects complied despite the much pain that they experienced (Nestor 89). In spite of their beliefs and values, these subjects went on and accepted to be used in the experiment. This way, they became a representative of many other people, in any given society, that take orders because they want to impress their authorities.
In Milgram’s experiment, the subjects who are divided into teachers and students are put in different rooms. Whenever a teacher asks a question, and a student wrongly answers it, he administers a shock. The experiment indicates that the shocks are so painful that some subjects fail to comply till the end. Nevertheless, some of them manage to persevere till the end of the experiment (Nestor 90). The subjects who comply with this painful experience represent people that chose to obey authorities even at the verge of death.
Moreover, compliance to authority is influenced by certain factors. These include group influence, closeness and legitimacy of the authority (Nestor 91). Moreover, people are influenced by institutional authority and emotional closeness to the subject. That is individuals are more likely to comply whenever there is a close contact with the source of authority. Besides, people in a certain group show a lot of compliance to a certain power than those in without groups.
On the other hand, people can conform to authority up to different extents. This implies that there are certain factors that determine an individual’s obedience to authority. According to Zimbardo, the amount power given to the people in a given organization has an impact on their behaviors. In his Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo found out that the subjects could have acted differently under normal circumstances (Rothwell 56). For example, the mock warders acted brutally because they are given authority to do that. Furthermore, the experiment shows that people’s behaviors are influenced by the way people around them behave. For example, the humane guards are influenced by the bad guards.
Moreover, when people find themselves in an unfamiliar circumstance, they tend to look up to those they think are more versed with the situation than them. This happens especially when there is an authority watching their actions. As a way of complying with the power, they end up doing what the other group is doing (Rothwell 58). However, these actions are often morally unacceptable; hence destructive.
According to Asch, individuals often prefer obedience to authority than conformity. In his experiments, the subjects are influenced, by their groups, to accept actions that they do not like. Nevertheless, the subjects had the tendency of blaming themselves for their actions, instead of their groups (Grant19). Consequently, they tend to demonstrate independence of action; a move that clearly indicates obedience rather than conformity.
There are other certain instances in life that clearly show that obedience to authority can be destructive process. Firstly, the military men have very strict rules that should be obeyed. Additionally, they are under various authorities that should be obeyed always as long as one is still employed. Therefore, the army men are always expected to take orders from their authorities regardless of their nature. For instance, a command could be to shoot or torture an individual. Therefore, the militant obeys the command irrespective of whether his conscience agrees or not.
Secondly, workers in an organization are all forced to engage in a riot whenever there is an issue to be addressed. Due to the obedience to their authorities, many of them end up acting under the influence of the group (Grant 78). These actions often have serious consequences as some innocent people lose jobs and even freedom. More so, the workers could end up destroying the organization’s property unwillingly just because they are obeying their authorities.
Besides, the obedience to authority is prevalent in academic institutions. Sometimes, the student leaders force other students to engage in immoral activities like burning the school properties, because a certain issue has not been addressed by the administration. Subsequently, many students act against their conscience and end up being fined, jailed or expelled from their schools. In other sad instances, some students lose their lives due confrontation with the police officers. Hence, Milgram’s statement that obedience to authority is at times destructive is true (Nestor 88).
In conclusion, obedience authority is recommended for order and efficiency in any organization. Nevertheless, it can be a disastrous thing to do under some circumstances because people are influenced, by some factors, to engage in a certain manner. For instance, group pressure, legitimacy and closeness of power. Zimbardo resolves that people act differently depending on the amount of power they are given. Therefore, people should be conscious of whatever commands they take so as to avoid experiencing destructive effects of obedience to authority.
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