Every human has a unique and complex thought processing system in which it is nearly impossible to determine how each person will react in a given situation. At an early age, people are taught to be obedient and oftentimes are forced to make a decision between being obedient or following their own morals. Usually, obedience wins because of the emphasis society has placed on it. Most of human’s actions are a result of a previous action in which they felt necessary to do.
Both authors, Stanley Milgram of “The Perils of Obedience” and lan Parker of “Obedience” agree that, humans, as a whole, will not respond he same in every similar situation because their actions are usually a result of obedience or of their current situation, rather than their personality. In Milgram’s article, he explains an experiment he designed to test whether the subjects of the experiment would refuse the orders of authority and follow their morals or be obedient and deliver shocks to another person after they answer a question incorrectly.
He found that only a few of the participants actually refused to follow the orders, while knowing that by carrying them out they were inflicting pain on another person. Milgram’s response to this is, the participants were only doing the job they were told to do (578). Obedience is ingrained into the everyday life of humans. People grow up believing that they cannot defy the demands of authority figures. Since this is so prominent, people are then faced with the choice between following the orders of an authority figure and their personal moral beliefs (579). These actions of obedience cannot be used to describe a person’s overall personality.
Milgram then goes on to explain the different results from his experiment. On one occasion, a ubject refuses to continue delivering shocks, even though she is told to do so because she believes she is causing harm. Milgram concluded by her demeanor that she considered her disobedient action to be reasonable. He expected that all of the subjects would act in a similar fashion (581). Instead, he found that many of the subjects continued on with the experiment, following the instructions, even when they knew the shocks they were delivering was causing harm to the person.
Several subjects showed only small signs of tension during the experiment but still continued until the end. Others would ask if the test could be stopped and after being told that it couldn’t and they needed to continue on, they would do as they were told (582-584). Another thing that Milgram saw in the experiment was, one subject who become so focused on the task he was given, that nothing else seemed to phase him. The subject showed no emotion towards the situation and was only concentrated on completing the task he was assigned to do.
Afterwards, the subject even tells the experimenter how privileged he felt to have been a part of the experiment (588-589). Even though each subject of the experiment esponded in a different way, one general thing they all had in common was they subjected to some form of obedience. This goes to show how humans actions are usually a result of obedience rather than their personal beliefs or wants. Milgram concludes his article by stating how most of the subjects were able to keep going in the experiment because they felt that the responsibility wasn’t on them.
He then compares this to the ways of society now and how people tend to follow authority and rules so closely, that they begin to ignore their actual actions (590). In lan Parker’s article “Obedience”, he starts out by epicting Milgram’s experiment as being both a blessing and a curse to him (599). Parker then goes on to explain the different responses Milgram received from his experiment and also the context his experiment was placed in. It was compared to the events of the Holocaust and this was one of the first times the Holocaust had been viewed as something other than the general cruelty of the Nazis.
This comparison showed how regular people could become obedient to catastrophic leaders and commit horrific crimes, simply by following their demands. Once that comparison was made people began to see hemselves and society in a new light (600-601). After this, obedience was viewed differently and people began to realize how it car cause people to act in ways they usu wouldn’t in other circumstances. Later in the article, Parker writes about a different take on Milgram’s experiment. Two professors Lee Ross, at Stanford University, and Richard E.
Nisbett, at the University of Michigan, believe that the focus of the experiments should shift to the situational matter of people’s actions rather than their obedience. Commonly, people’s actions are because of where they are and the situation they are in rather than their ctions being apart of their personality. The impact of a situation is often times undervalued and people tend to not realize it. How things are happening in that moment become a major factor in how a person will respond but more often than not their responses are labeled as a personality trait.
Society fails to understand the influence the setting a person is in, can have on them (606-607). One event or action leads to another and people continue to act because of their previous action and sometimes get sucked into doing things they usually wouldn’t do. Parker then proceeds to talk about how human’s actions re a result of their situation and how it causes their behavior to change. In some instances people end up sacrificing things they wouldn’t have, if it would of been known from the beginning.
On the other hand they could be malicious, where they otherwise wouldn’t have been under different circumstances. This shows the world, how under special circumstances, we can take these regular people and have them show a certain level of conformity that is only expected to be seen from a select few (608). Parker ends the article by talking about how humans tend to make assumptions about others before analyzing the ituation. One part of the world could perceive someone has being a hero but on the contrary they could be seen as a terrorist.
Humans are judged off of their previous actions which society uses to determine how someone will act in every situation before evaluating them in other circumstances (608). People need to realize that not everyone’s actions are because of who they are but many are situational. Overall, humans tend to believe that everyone acts in a certain matter because of how they are as a person. Generally, that is not true. In most cases, their actions are because of a previous one and tends to have a nowball effect.
They do one thing, that ends up leading to another and eventually they do something they never planned on doing to begin with. Another common reason for human’s actions is obedience. Obedience is such a prominent thing in today’s society and many people do things simply because they were told to, not because they wanted to. In both Parker and Milgram’s articles, they agree that human’s actions shouldn’t be deemed as apart of their personality but instead the context of the situation should be looked at to determine what caused them to act in a certain way.