b. Explain how individual differences, such as personality influence whether a person resists an order from an authority figure (4)

Firstly, Dora may be defiant due to having an “internal locus of control” meaning that she takes greater responsibility for her actions, as she believe she is in control of what she is doing and what happens to her, as opposed to believing that what happens to her is a result of the situation she finds herself in.

This explanation is supported by the fact that those Pps described as “internals” dropped out earlier than “externals” in Milgram’s study, accordingly to a re-analysis of some existing data bu Thomas Blass.

Secondly, Dora may score low on the f-scale, Adorno’s questionnaire to assess Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is associated with high levels of obedience to authority and is believed to be a product or a harsh and punitive style of parenting in infancy. A low score would therefore be associated with defiance or resistance to orders and may suggest that Dora had a more liberal or permissive style of parenting where and was loved unconditionally.

This is supported by research by Alan Elms who found that there was a correlation between Milgram’s Pps’s scores on the F-scale and the maximum voltage of shock administered.

What’s going on in this answer?

  • command term EXPLAIN requires some reasoning about each of the individual differences presented; you need to say HOW and WHY this difference would bring about defiance.
  • here, I have presented just two individual differences but each has been elaborated with some research evidence for a second mark as justification for the idea.
  • if you did not know any research you could instead present more individual differences such as desire for personal control or even look outside of personality and look at cultural differences which might make her more defiant.

If you did not get full marks in the is question

  • you need to revisit the individual differences page of this website and complete further questions.
  • Have a go at writing a 2 mark answer on desire for personal control and link it to Burger’s study (2009)
  • If you really want to push yourself have a look at Begue et al and Gramann which look at other personality traits associated with obedience and defiance.