Obedience is a fundamental constituent in the smooth running of a social structure. It is a requirement in community living and only a person living in isolation cannot be asked to be obedient to any authority, he can act the way he pleases because after all he is the only person there. For a majority of people, obedience is a behavior inclination profoundly entrenched that overrides principle training and moral conduct. The predicament inbuilt in compliance to authority is antique and the question as to whether one should obey orders given even though they are inconsistent with one’s sense of right and wrong is still an issue.
Though the lawful and theoretical aspects of obedience are of immense significance, very little is being said about how most people conduct themselves in real situations (Milgram, 1). The renowned Stanford Prison Experiment is a disreputable illustration of unforeseen effects that arise and how people behave when mental and emotional experiments into human ordinary world are performed. This experiment showed a deterioration and collapse of set rules and ethics that are supposed to dictate precisely how people should behave towards one another.
It answered while at the same time creating new questions on the subject of amorality and dimness that dwell in the human beings’ consciousness. Though it failed as a scientific experiment, it managed to bring forth results that give an overview into human beings individual psychology and social conduct (Shuttleworth, 1). This Stanford Prison Experiment was a brain child idea of Philip Zimbardo who was a psychologist trying to show that prison wardens and convicts have a tendency to slip into predefined roles that they assume they are mandated to take and not employ their own opinion and ethics.
He was trying to display what happens to a person when all of his eccentricity and decorum is stripped away from him and his life absolutely controlled and also to show how guards drop their social and ethical standards when put in such a state. After a group of selected volunteer students were put in their respective roles of prisoners and guards, the results were rather startling since they got into character for real. The idea that ordinary people can be completely changed into instruments of wickedness under precise “institutional pressures” that puts a power figure alongside a submissive one is true as per this experiment.
The Stanford Prison Experiment degenerated at a very fast pace and the dim and atrocious part of human nature became perceptible incredibly fast. The guards began to bring anguish and a wide range of disgrace and punishments to the prisoners who also began to demonstrate signs of psychological and emotional suffering. The interesting part is that this was only on the very first day of the experiment (Shuttleworth, 2). It is very clear that abusive and violent surroundings can generate psychotic and cruel actions that are related with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This is because on the second day of the 12days experiment, the prisoners planned a mass rebellion and unrest to complain about the circumstances they were in and the manner of which the guards treat them. The prisoners were in an abusive environment brought about by the guards’ cruel treatment and the riots arranged are a sure sign of the psychotic and sadistic actions that the environment led them to take. The fact that cruelty was instilled unto them, they want to do the same if not worse in retaliation.
The guards, instead of retrogressing and making use of the good part of their psyche, they labor additional hours coming up with strategies and using their own inventiveness to formulate a plan with no authority’s consent of breaking up and putting down the rebellion with the use of fire extinguishers (Shuttleworth, 5). One hypothetical explanation of this behavior is that all human beings harbor profoundly destructive instincts that are incessantly pressing to be expressed and such experimentation provides institutional rationalization in support of these impulses being freed.
Therefore, if a person is put in a circumstance where he has absolute authority over a different person whom he is free to punish as much as he fills, all that is vicious and inhuman aspects in man is brought to the forefront. The desire to distress the victim is seen to pour from the strong hostile tendencies, which at that moment are a part of the motivational being of the person, and the conduct experiment, for the reason that it provides social legality, basically gives them an opportunity and opens the door to their expressing themselves.
It becomes very important, as a result, to evaluate the individual’s performance when he is the one being given orders and when he is the one giving orders and allowed to select distress levels (Weston, 67). This experiment showed haw the guards at that position of supremacy abused their power and inflicted pain. They used normal prisoner head count and roll call as a tryout torment and a ceremony for prisoners’ mortification. They forced them to exercise and bestowed unto them corporal punishment in a routinely manner.
They went to the extent of confisticating prisoners’ mattresses leaving them no option but to sleep on chilly rigid floors. Basic human rights like toilet amenities and right to use the bathrooms became a privilege to the prisoners. The convicts were put in situations where they even had to wash the toilets with their uncovered hands. These constant stripping and being subjected to sexual dishonor was a weapon used by the guards to intimidate them (Zimbardo, 363).
The Stanford Prison Experiment showed that a third of the guards started to confirm having intense and rooted streak of aggression and deriving pleasure from other people’s pain and suffering. The situation got so intense until two of the prisoners had to be removed for displaying real signs of emotional suffering. The experiment brought to light how peoples’ personalities could be snowed under when they are given positions of power. It showed how people are inclined to respond to particular needs of the circumstances and not referring to their inner principles, ethics and thinking.
In this case, good and regular students out of their own will became aggressive agents of torment just because they were given authorization, way and the expectation of doing that. The experiment that was scheduled to last for 12 days was terminated after six days. Having a problem with obedience is not entirely psychological. Much is attributed to the form and shape of the general public and the way in which it is developing. There are situations and times when people are capable of giving a complete human reaction to any state of affairs reason being they are entirely engrossed in it as human beings.
But immediately there is an allotment of labor things take a different turn. The society breaking up and doing specific jobs at a certain point takes away the human quality of work and the entire life. A person only gets to see a tiny part of it and not the entire situation. Thus is unable to act not having the overall direction, and yields to authority hence he is alienated from his own actions (Zimbardo, 375). The mock penitentiary setting can be viewed at as a symbol for the misuse of authority that can also happen in matrimony, school, a work place and many others.
A violent, abusive and cruel partner, tutor, admin boss, colleague, and others do create situations comparable, even though to a much lower degree, to the Stanford Prison Experiment. In the case of marriage, an abusive husband who physically assaults his wife can make the wife be gradually transformed into a psychotic and sadistic person. This kind of environment is that is violent in nature brings out the dark side of the woman who might revenge and the results be atrocious. Students whose teacher is abusive harbor those violent feelings and they end up being bullies or even violent people in future (Rhode, 185).
In essence, every human being has a dark side and the slightest provocation can bring it out. Human psychology is complicated thing and there is a probability that there is never going to be a perfect theory explaining all the human behaviors therefore all the experiments done just give a small part of the explanation and should not be taken to be the entire explanation because as much as humanity is going to be in existence, more experiments will take place bringing forth either similar or differing results. Works Cited Milgram, Stanley.
The Perils of Obedience. Adapted from Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram. Copyright 1974, Pp. 1, 5. Rhode, L. Deborah and Warren G. (FRW) Bennis. Moral leadership: the theory and practice of power, judgment, and policy. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, 2006, p. 185. Shuttleworth, Martyn. The Stanford Prison Experiment. Amethyst-Web. net, 2008, 1-5 Weston, Anthony. A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 67. Zimbardo, Philip K. The Stanford Prison Experiment New York: Longman, 2000. 363 – 375.Sample Essay of PaperDon.com