The Psychology of Tyranny vs. the Nature of Conformity

November 23, 2012 | By | Reply More

Anna Hunt, Staff Writer
Waking Times

“When we see somebody doing bad things, we assume they are bad people to begin with.” – Dr. Philip Zimbardo, The Stanford Prison Experiment

The foundation for understanding the psychology of tyranny and human obedience is based on classical studies such as the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971 by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, and the Milgram Obedience Experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s, with very little done since then in terms of research into this form of extreme behavior. These experiments showed that ordinary people will participate, sometimes enthusiastically, in acts of cruelty when put in roles of authority or are instructed by authority figures to engage in such acts.

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority. – Stanley Milgram, “The Perils of Obedience,” 1974

Milgram and Zimbardo’s theories are now challenged by professors Alex Haslam and Stephen Reicher who published a recent essay, “Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo’s Studies Really Show”, in PLOS Bilology. Haslam and Reicher argue that people do not conform blindly to the roles and rules of authority, but they conform because they identify with the authority. These conformists do not lack intelligence or morality, but are aware of what they are doing and believe that what they are doing is right.

“…the fundamental point is that tyranny does not flourish because perpetrators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous. It is this conviction that steels participants to do their dirty work and that makes them work energetically and creatively to ensure its success.” – Haslam and Reicher, “Contesting the “Nature” Of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo’s Studies Really Show,” Nov. 2012

The power of the environment has a way of changing and transforming people to a point of obedience and conformity, and, sadly, cruelty.

In our world, we are conditioned to obey authority – school faculty, TSA agents, police, the IRS – always for good reasons, of course – education, safety, security. Destructive acts can easily be presented as constructive and necessary. Yet, Haslam’s research highlights that perhaps our relationship with authority is not necessarily as straight forward as it used to be in 1960s and 1970s. We are not thoughtless. We are not helpless.

“What we wanted to show [in our research] is that groups are also a basis for resistance…” – Professor Alex Haslam

Video: The Stanford Prison Experiment – featuring Dr. Philip Zimbardo

Video: BBC The Experiment – Prison Study – featuring Professor Alex Haslam

Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View by Stanley Milgram

About the Author

Anna Hunt is a writer and entrepreneur  with over a decade of experience in research and editorial writing. She and her husband run a preparedness e-store outlet at www.offgridoutpost.com, offering GMO-free storable food and emergency kits. Anna is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Read more of her excellent articles here.

Sources:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120193529.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001426

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

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

~~ Help Waking Times to raise the vibration by sharing this article with the buttons below…

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: All Original Articles, Anna Hunt, Community, Contributors, Culture, Governance, Ideas, Self, Society

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

Link Found Between Food Allergies and Farm Antibiotics

Link Found Between Food Allergies and Farm Antibiotics













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

Food allergies affect an estimated 15 million Americans, including one in 13 children. Statistics indicate something strange is afoot, as food allergies in children rose by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011 alone.

Similarly, in Great Britain one in three people are allergic to something, be … More

September 18, 2014 | By | Reply More
Drop Out and Simplify Your Life

Drop Out and Simplify Your Life













Zen Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

I was thinking about this very subject and sat down to put some notes together when I stopped to moderate comments on the site. And here was this synchronistic and very wise comment from Soliel:

Despite all the fear-mongering out there, many have remained … More

September 17, 2014 | By | 4 Replies More
Coconut Water is One of the Greatest Nutritional from Nature

Coconut Water is One of the Greatest Nutritional from Nature













Karen Foster, Prevent Disease
Waking Times

The first documented use of coconut water dates back just a few centuries, however it’s safe to assume humans have been enjoying this supreme hydrator as long as we’ve been around coconut palms. Here’s why young coconut water has one of the highest sources … More

September 17, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
How Monsanto and Big-Ag are Fighting Back Against Anti-GMO Activism

How Monsanto and Big-Ag are Fighting Back Against Anti-GMO Activism













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

Between 2012 and mid-2014, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million.

These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and … More

September 16, 2014 | By | Reply More
A Letter To My Siblings

A Letter To My Siblings













Zen Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

A note from Zen: An answer to a question from awakening siblings about how have I kept up with world and American events being outside the US so many years. This is part of a discussion on world topics that we’ve been debating including More

September 13, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More

Activism Works

7 Ways Cannabis Legalization Has Already Benefited Colorado

7 Ways Cannabis Legalization Has Already Benefited Colorado













Jeff Roberts, Collective-Evolution
Waking Times

January 1st 2014 saw the opening of the very first cannabis shop in Colorado as the cultivation, manufacture and sale of the controversial plant became fully legalized. Since then, the state has seen a lot of promising results.

Laura Pegram of Drugpolicy.org wrote in her … More

September 16, 2014 | By | Reply More
Sweden Recycling 99 Percent Of Garbage, Edging Closer To Zero-Waste

Sweden Recycling 99 Percent Of Garbage, Edging Closer To Zero-Waste













April McCarthy, Prevent Disease
Waking Times

There’s a revolution happening in Sweden right now. Dubbed the “recycling revolution,” the Scandinavian country now recycles 99 percent of their garbage, edging closer to a zero-waste lifestyle, nationwide.

Wouldn’t it be great if no household waste was wasted? If each and every item … More

September 4, 2014 | By | 6 Replies More
Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients













Coach Mark Smallwood, EcoWatch
Waking Times

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

More than 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn’t matter how or … More

August 23, 2014 | By | 4 Replies More
As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry

As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry













, EcoWatch
Waking Times

We’ve got this.

Thanks to the courageous and indefatigable efforts of pipeline fighters everywhere, the tide has finally turned on Keystone XL. As it becomes increasingly clear that Keystone XL’s northern leg is not going through, it is time to set our sights … More

August 4, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Seizing Control of Our Destinies

Seizing Control of Our Destinies













Julian Rose, Contributor
Waking Times

In 1381, at a time of great repression for the British agricultural work force, an extraordinary people’s revolutionary named Wat Tyler sprang to his feet and announced, “England should be a nation of self governing communities,” to which he added, “ No lord shall exercise … More

July 28, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More