Analysis of Social Norms
We live in an environment that is strong with influence
attempts. A large portion of the population makes a living simply
attempting to get others to comply with their requests. Whether a
manager encouraging productivity, a policeman directing traffic, a
salesperson closing a sale, or a president telling us we need to spend
more money on social programs. Each of us is subjected to an
uncountable number of influential attempts each day.
Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social
life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of
all communal living and it is only the person dwelling in isolation
who is not forced to respond, with defiance or submission, to the
commands of others (Elms 1995, p. 28). For many people, obedience is
deeply ingrained behavior tendency, a compelling impulse overriding
training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct.
Obedience has been a determinant of behavior established from
1933- 1945 when millions of innocent people were systematically
slaughtered on command. (Pettijohn, 1995, p. 196). Obedience to
destructive authority was indeed a crucial social issue in 1962. (Elms
1995, p.21) American military advisers were being ordered to Vietnam
in increasing number for forestall Communist control of southeast Asia
(Elms, 1995 p. 21).
Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University conducted
an innovative study. It addressed the endless conflict between
obedience and conscience. In the experiment, the teacher was to
administer an electric shock of increasing intensity to the learner
upon each mistake. When the teacher asked for advice regarding
increasing the punishments, He/she was verbally encouraged to continue
Ultimately, 65% of the teachers obeyed orders to punish the learner
all the way to the end of the 450-volt scale. Not a single teacher
disobeyed orders before reaching 300...