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PSYC 3430
Peter Papadogiannis

Chapter 8: Power Obedience to Authority - Few interactions advance very far before elements of power and influence come into play Power: suggests influence, the potential to influence, and control over outcomes - Sometimes the potential to influence is not actually put into practice, and power is often rooted in inequalities in control over resources, outcomes, or activities - Fundamentally a group-level process, as it involves some membrers of a group conforming to the requirements of others Constructive Power: - Power is used to enhance group effectiveness, rather than reduce it - Power is used to benefit followers and the group - The use of power is agreed to by others rather than occurring without their agreement Social Power: the capacity to influence others, even when these others try to resist influence - Commonplace practice: coach demanding obedience from his/her athletes, a VP demanding that deadlines be met, board members and extraordinary effects of power - Sometimes extreme authority leads to disastrous outcomes – cults and other extreme forms of influence The Milgram Experiments: - Analyzed power by creating small groups in his laboratory at Yale University – specifically, looked at how cooperative people are willing to be when responding to the request of an authority - At the time of the experimental design process, a famous former Nazi was on trial, and was using the defense that he was “just obeying orders” - Milgram wanted to determine if there was a specific personality that would be more willing to comply with orders from an authority Experimental Procedure: - Milgram recruited participants by a newspaper ad asking for people willing to participate in an experiment about learning - When participants arrived, they arrived at the same time as another person who posed as a participant, but was actually a confederate - The participant and the confederate were told that they were to participate in an experiment examining the effect of punishment on learning – one was the “teacher” and the other was the “learner” o The confederate was always assigned to the “learner” and the subject was always the “teacher” o The subject who was the teacher was to read a list of paired words and the learner was to try and memorize this list o The teacher and the learner were in different rooms, communicating through an intercom o The learner was hooked up to a device that would shock him (it was always the same learner, and was always a man) o The teacher sat in front of a panel with a series of switches, each of which when thrown would deliver a different voltage of shock (from 15V to 450V) to the learner * fake! - The teacher was told to read the list of paired words to the learner, and then read the first word in each pair, 4 choices and then the learner would indicate which of the four answers was correct - The teacher was told that he was to flip a switch to deliver a shock to the learner whenever the learner got an answer wrong; with each wrong answer, he was to progress to the next voltage o To ensure that the teacher actually believed that the learner was receiving a shock, he was brought into the learner’s room and given a small electrical current - The experimenter applied electrode paste onto the learner’s arms to “avoid blisters and burns” – the teacher and the “learner” were told that the shocks may become painful but would “cause no permanent tissue damage” - The learner followed a script telling him how to respond to the shock – if the teacher protested and did not want to continue, the experimenter also followed a script to guide them in responding o Experimenter never used any verbal force Results: - Psychiatrists predicted that only a fraction of 1% would go to the highest voltage, and most subjects would stop at 150V, Milgram agreed - Of the 40 individuals, 26 (65%) of them administered the full 450 volts - NONE broke off before the 300-v level, and several of the eventually disobedient participants gave one or two additional shocks before finally refusing to yield to the experimenter’s prods o Participants responses suggested that they were distressed, however felt unable to disobey the experimenter’s orders - These results have been replicated several times, with over 1000 participants Harm vs. Rights: - Milgram’s overwhelming findings lead him to believe that the participants did not full understand what was happening to the learner in the next room - In further studies, he added additional cues signaling the learner’s unwillingness to continue (explicit declaration of refusal) o Voice-feedback condition, the learner’s shouts and pleas could be heard through the wall - These cues did NOT substantially reduce the level of obedience (62.5% still obeyed to 450 - Milgram later developed a heart problem condition: when the learner was connected to the electrodes he mentioned that he had a heart condition and asked about complications o Even when the learner stopped responding about 300-V, 65% of the participants continued to administer shocks to the 450-V level Proximity & Surveillance Effects: - In earlier studies, only a glass observation window separated the learner and the participant o Milgram noted that many of the teachers averted their eyes and expressed discomfort about having to watch - Proximity Condition: Milgram moved the learner to the same room as the teacher and obedience dropped to 40% - Touch-Proximity Condition: the learner sat next to the teacher and receive his shock when he put his hand on a shock plate o At the 150-V level, he refused to put his hand down so the experimenter gave the participant an insulated glove and told him to press the learner’s hand down (30% still obeyed) - Low Surveillance Condition: the experimenter left the room after showing the teacher what to do (still communicated over the phone), 25% stopped at the 150-V level when the learner demanded to be released o Only 20% continued to the 450-V level, and many disobeyed by deceiving authority (lied about the strength of the shocks) Prestige and Legitimacy: - Office Building Condition: Milgram moved the study away from the prestigious Yale University o Obedience dropped to 48% - Ordinary-Man Variation: a fourth member was added to the group, who was given the task of recording the shock o Obedience dropped to 20% - Authority-As-Victim Condition: experimenter agreed to take the role of the learner o In all cases, the participant released the experimenter, obedience to the ordinary person’s command (confederate learner) to harm the authority was nil Group Effects: - Milgram studied obedience rather than conformity, since the authority did not himself engage in the action he demanded of the teacher, and the teacher faced the power of the authority alone - Peer administers shock condition: subjects did not have to administer the shock, a confederate who was fully compliant did so – 92.5% obediently fulfilled with tasks without intervening o Membership in a defiant group contributed to disobedience - Two peers rebel condition: Milgram added two more confederates to the situation, and they posed as peers of the real participant and the three worked together to deliver the shock to the learner o The confederates played out their roles and eventually refused and left the table, leaving the subject alone to administer the shocks o Only 10% of the participants were fully obedient – membership in a group helped the participants defy the authority Sources of Power in Groups French & Raven’s Power Bases Theory: identified six key power bases – group members who control these bases are more influential than those who fail to secure a base of power 1. Reward: the capability of controlling the distribution of rewards given or offered to the target 2. Coercive: the capacity to threaten and punish those who do not comply with requests or demands 3. Legitimate: authority that derives from the legitimate right to require and demand obedience 4. Referent: influence based on the identification with, attraction to, and respect of others 5. Expert: influence based on others’ belief that the power-holder possesses superior skills and abilities 6. Informational Power: influence based on the potential use of informational resources, including rational argument, persuasion, or factual data (access to and control of information) Power Tactics: specific strategies used to influence others, usually to gain a particular objective or advantage - Extraverts use a greater variety of tactics than introverts - Men and women who supervised an ineffective employee both used rewards and criticism, however women intervened less frequently with a more limited range of tactics o Women promised fewer pay raises and threatened more pay deductions than men, and they were more likely to criticize subordinates - Men tend to use bilateral and direct tactics, whereas women report using unilateral and indirect methods - The setting also determines the power tactics (teacher vs. boss vs. coach…) - People tend to rely on rational methods when dealing with superiors, and shift from soft to hard tactics when they encounter resistance 1. Soft and Hard: - Soft (Indirect): exploit the relationship between the influencer and the target to extract compliance o Ex: collaboration, socializing, friendships, personal rewards, and ingratiation - Hard (Direct): harsh, forcing, or direct because they rely on economic, tangible outcome
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