What are your thoughts on the relationship between obedience and conformity vs. the moral behavior of individuals?

As a free thinker, obedience is one of my most poignant fears. There are countless myriad examples of generally decent individuals performing heinous crimes under the authority of others. Experiments on these matters are equally frightening.

Links to wikis:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Most atheists are by definition non-conformists to some degree on another. What do you think makes it possible for you to stand your ground where others fail?

Tags: authority, conformity, obedience

Views: 32

Replies to This Discussion

Interesting article, but I find the study itself too limited and narrow. Also, what about women who generally are supposed to react strongly towards spiders, wounded and weak? This creates a bias not including this into this sort of study I think, because then naturally women would actually be less liberal...?
Studies published in a journal such as Science tend to control for simple things like that. Unfortunately brief articles about such studies tend to *not* include such information. This case was no exception. Here's an example of what the study actually said about this:

"Uncontrolled, bivariate results have the potential to mislead. We therefore regressed each participant's summary level of support for socially protective political policies on changes in skin conductance as well as on four sociodemographic variables commonly used as predictors of political attitudes: gender, age, income, and education (race and ethnicity were not controlled because all but one participant was self-identified as white and non-Hispanic). With the effects of these sociodemographic variables controlled, the effect of increases in skin conductance when viewing threatening stimuli was positive and significant (P < 0.01), with a large standardized regression coefficient (0.377)"
What do you think makes it possible for you to stand your ground where others fail?

It's my hardcore, dictionary-thumping bond to actually being right. Before I got covered in shame for a few years, in fourth grade for example I'd correct teachers on stuff that they got wrong--each and every time. If the postman stopped to chat with my mom for a second and he got the troposphere confused with the stratosphere I'd bust right in with a correction. This just extends to extra-moment-acious things, too.

Put blue paint on the sign when we were told to use red? Afterwards they will say "That was wrong." I shall be right! We will use red!

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