Psychology: Core Concepts

Major Assignment (30%): Conformity, Authority, Obedience

Essay Format –

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1) Title Page: A title page template is provided for you to follow on page 2.

2) Introduction Paragraph: Introduce the topics that will be discussed and include a thesis statement at the end of the


A thesis statement is the main argument that you are making, summarized in an affirmative one-line statement; always placed at

the end of the first paragraph.

3) Essay Body: This is your main body of work.

4) Conclusion Paragraph: This paragraph summarizes everything you discussed. It is usually a good idea to reword your thesis

statement and incorporate it into the conclusion as well.

5) References: APA style

5 pages minimum (Please note: this is the minimum allowed for the essay to be marked.)

6 pages or more is recommended.

Please feel free to write as many pages as you would like beyond 5 pages.

(Double spaced lines; 12 font size; New Times Roman font; 1-inch margins; 5-page minimum does not include Title Page;

5-page minimum does not include References page)

Essay Question:

Under what conditions does a person obey authority, who commands actions that go against his or her own conscience?

Incorporate the studies of Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, and (optional) Solomon Asch.

Essay Resources:

1) Milgram Journal Article (1963). SLATE under “Content” – “Major Assignment”

2) All of the video links. SLATE under “Content” – “Major Assignment”

3) Chapter 12 of your textbook

4) Choose 1 of the 3 Zimbardo Journal Articles provided. SLATE under “Content” – “Major Assignment”

5) Any additional resources you wish to investigate

Things to consider:

1) Many of us believe that we are independent enough to never go against our moral code to the extreme, regardless of the

pressure put on us.

– Please consider that none of the participants in the Stanley Milgram experiment were under any physical or violent restraints;

why did they continue to go along?

– Were they in the majority or the minority? According to Milgram, is this a universal constant across time and culture?

2) Consider the Zimbardo experiment: Why did the “good guards” conform to the situation and look the other way? Why did the

prisoners commit degrading acts against each other on command by the guards?

3) Incorporating real world examples can never hurt. Any examples like Abu Ghraib prison, the holocaust, the genocide in

Rwanda etc. Unfortunately, there are many examples of atrocity in human history.

4) Shifting of responsibility from the individual to the authority figure is a key theme.

– Do those who obey have unique personality traits?

– What role do you think symbols may have played in behaviour? (Scientist in the white coat; guard with sunglasses; chain on

prisoners’ leg etc.)

5) Is all obedience destructive? What is the significance of the bystander effect with regards to this theme?

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