Why People Obey Authority

Over history there have been many rulers and dictators that have had the power to control large groups of people, even whole countries. Adolf Hitler may be the ultimate demonstration of a person bringing masses of people under his control. Benito Mussolini is also another dictator that displayed great power and authority of an entire nation of people were willing to follow him and his rules to the T, even if it meant death.

Understanding exactly why people obey authority cannot be achieved without a proper understanding of conformity. Conformity has been described as the chameleon affect or the tendency to mimic other people. This can be created by a need to fit in to what we would describe as a social norm, and is influenced by social pressure. It has been proven time and time again that the influence of social pressure can be powerful enough to make individuals conform to a social norm that is clearly wrong.

Overall there are three major factor to consider that have a direct influence on whether or not a person will submit to the pressure of a certain group. They are the presence of a partner who has dissented from the majority, the size of the majority, and the size of the discrepancy between the majorities position and the right answer. It has been found that when someone usually sides with a unanimous majority of as little as three people, but would refuse if they were facing only one or two.

Research has shown that the belief that evil lurks in the minds of evil people and that bad people are different from the so called “good” people is not totally true. Asked yourself this, have I ever been peer pressured into doing something that I would not normally do? I can almost guarantee that the answer is yes. People come to obey rulers or dictators for several different reasons, but the sad truth is that most times they just do it because everyone else is.

Source by Gary Becks

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