What is Obedience?

Obedience refers to our tendency to follow orders from authority figures. We are more likely to follow orders when we believe someone has more social power than we do, that is we believe them to be above us in a real or perceived power hierarchy. Often we may not agree with the order we are carrying out, (inward disagreement) but we carry out the order believing that we have no choice but to obey. We also often believe that we are not responsible for our actions when we are following orders

Obedience is more likely when the individual giving orders has more status or expertise, however, charisma alone maybe sufficient. Children tend to be rewarded for obedience making unquestioning obedience more common in later life. This can be positive and help maintain social harmony but Stanley Milgram, (1963) showed that blind obedience can lead us to commit brutal acts against others. He claims that we may not agree with what we are being asked to do but that obedience to authority occurs when we believe someone else is responsible for our actions.

We will do a few activities in our initial lessons to learn about obedience in general before moving on to the topics below. The resources can all be found here:





We will also use the “just following orders” notebook which can be found on google drive.

Assessment Question

  1. Describe what is meant by obedience (3)

Using examples to extend AO1 – DIRT task: Using_examples_to_extend_AO1

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© Amanda J Wood, 2016-2017