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The Obedience Experiments (Chapter 12) 
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seeker: So here are three different motives for acquiescing to the leadership of another: fear, trust, and the need for acceptance. Zimbardo's point seems to be that we do not adequately appreciate the power of the third (although the SPE also involved the first) to produce destructive behavior.


I think all three are operative. Leaders provide direction and meaning through immediate dictate or personal example. The leader's audience is seeking leadership out of a combination of fear and hope and a desire for acceptance: they are influenced when a leader increases hope, decreases fear, and provides a meaningful role for the follower in whatever the project may be...thus, they trust the leader and submit to her direction.

Leaders offer a narrative that brings an audience into something meaningful and hopeful: their leadership is a matter of creating an identity for an audience that creates solidarity around particular values that lead to prescribed actions.

The leader's narrative is suited to the task at hand: mobilizing a crew to unload a truck, motivating a political party to endorse a divisive platform, energizing a classroom of students to complete a difficult task, or getting a group of volunteers to participate in a provocative experiment.

Leaders will encourage sacrifice for the greater cause, often using themselves as personal examples, or by threat of punishment: the punishment can be dismissal from the team, stigma and peer pressure, or physical assault.

So what is the greater cause to which these volunteers are working towards?



Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:50 pm
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misterpessimistic wrote:
I can agree that all these guys probably went in with "it is only an experiment" attitude (which we see the prisoners exhibiting in the beginning) but to say that that type of trust contributed to the prisoners bowing to the guards authority does not seem to follow from what I have read.

I tend to think it is more the fear factor...and plain old wear down tactics by the guards.

As Mr. P says, trust wasn't much of factor once the experiment was underway. In fact, a strong mutual distrust emerged between the prisoners and the guards.

While the prisoners did fear the guards, conformance to the social role of prisoner was also a major influence.

Besides, the guard's actions, and the reasons for their cruelty, were the most prominent aspect of the SPE.



Thu Nov 29, 2007 1:51 am
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