Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Milgram's Obedience to Authority Studies
Nations and cultures differ among themselves in countless ways, ranging from something as superficial as how people dress, to more serious matters, such as unwritten rules of appropriate social conduct. But one of the universals of social behavior that transcends specific groups is the presence of hierarchical forms of social organization. That is, all civilized societies seem to have people in positions of authority who are recognized as having the power or the right to issue commands that others feel obligated to follow. Most of the time, these authority–follower relationships serve useful functions. For example, children need to listen to parents to teach them right from wrong, that it is dangerous to cross the street when the light turns red, and countless other things. But there is also a potentially darker side to commands from authorities: their ability to lead their followers to act in ways that violate the followers' ...