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Social Psychology and Critical Thinking Process


The problem of domination in society has always been significant for people all over the world. The domination of men under women or vice versa, the domination of adults under children, and children under adults in the cases when a child is an object for praise, and domination in the office relations are one of the main spheres, where the problem of domination is put on the edge. Obedience to the boss is a common thing and most people take it for granted, the others try to quarrel, thinking that they know better. Obedience to boss in most cases is a justified action, but taking such events as Holocaust, Jonestown, or Manson’s killing spree, with Hitler, Manson, or Jones as the main characters, make people think whether it is so important to obey the leader and what makes people for blind obedience to killers and criminals, who think they have the right to take up people’s lives and get nothing for this.

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Milgram’s experiment about obedience to the authority

To show the scope of the obedience to the authority problem, Stanley Milgram’s experiment may be discussed. The experiments took place at Yale University in 1963, but even that about 50 years have passed from that time, the results of the experiment remain up to date now and scientists continue to analyze them. The main idea of the experiment was as follows: the actors were taken on the role of learners. The instructors were told to maintain the shocks (till 450 volts) as the punishments for the learners if they do not cope with the memory task. In reality, there was no electricity, and the learners knew that, while the experimenters did not. The results were amazing: 26 of 40 went to the maximum shock level, even when learners began to complain about pain on 150 volts, bad heart at 250 volts, and “kicked the wall and went silent at 300 volts” (Goldberg, 2006, p. 116). So, people have used to obey those who are either elder or occupy a higher position in society or in the working place. The experiment just showed the practical version of what was already known and used in society. Milgram’s experiment was used in peace time and just confirmed the information which was known before.

Social psychology as the cause for the thinking, influence, and relations

Considering the example of authority obedience during wartime, it seems unreal that people could be so devoted to their leaders. Holocaust… Many people were killed because of their national belonging and the question appears: how it was possible to make others kill innocent people, just because they were Jews. Blind obedience is involved? – The scope is huge, and it seems impossible to organize so many people and to program them for the murder without any significant reasons. The only conclusion may be provided that people have used to be led, and there was a case of right time right place right conditions, that lead to destruction. The case deals with social psychology, which is perfectly described by Myers (2008), who dwells that social psychology is the scientific study of social thinking (people’s perception of themselves, their judgments, attitudes, and beliefs), social influence (pressure, persuasion, and culture is involved), and social relations, which explore prejudice, aggression, attraction and helping. Collecting all the said, the conclusion may be made that the situation with Holocaust was influenced by people’s beliefs and judgment, imposed by Hitler, his persuasion and culture provided by him, and people’s relations in the Nazis society, described as aggressive and prejudiced (Myers, 2008, p. 4). People were just told that Jews are not people, that they do not deserve to live and walk the earth and they were killed, because the society was prepared mentally and brought up in the hostile relation to Jews, who, in fact, are the same people as all others.

Holocaust, Jonestown, or Manson’s killing spree as the ideological and harmful obedience

The reasons and consequences of the Holocaust are not the themes of the current paper, but the reasons for the Jews’ expansion are. The ideology is one of the main reasons for obeying. Fascists were so devoted to their leader the declamations were so realistic, that fascists even did not think about the reasons, the leader said that Jews had to be obliterated, because they were either “irrelevant” or “inconvenient” (Cesarani, D. & Kavanaugh, 2004, p. 12), the necessary and powerful propaganda was provided and those, devoted to Hitler, began to diminish Jews all over the world. As it was discussed higher, social developments were the reasons for the blind obedience to the leader. Holocaust is one of the best examples of the “domination-to-destruction” (American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, et al., 2005, p. 340) in world’s history, as people were killed mass and by the direction of the leader.

Considering the other cases, where blind obedience was the reason for murders and the causes for this blind obedience were ideology and other social influences, the Jonestown and Manson’s killing spree appear to mind. Manson’s killing was also based on religion and “black” sorcery, where psychological domination is of the main importance. Different cults and other magic gatherings are very dangerous as the person’s mind is controlled, from the very beginning the work is so structured that persona is unable to take up decisions individually, only the head of the cult and others remain under his/her absolute domination (Kephas, 2004, p. 77). The principle and prerogatives of cults are so strong, moreover, they are falsified and wrong, but people, involved in the scheme see nothing. They just obey the head, the most important and true person in their life. Jonestown is also the “religion” community, which with the help of psychological training, which was directed on people’s obedience to the only person, and their imperative submission to him/her, make people so dependent, and in combination with drugs, which are usually used, during programming people’s minds. The domination was so strong, that people believe in the person without any deny and were ready to do all Jim Jones asked. He told them to drink cyanide and they did it without thinking about their deaths (Kephas, 2004, p. 84).

Analyzing all three events, Holocaust, Manson’s killing, and Jonestown are the events which held during a different time, but the reasons were the same: the actions would have not been provided if the ideology was not implemented on participants of the events. Culture and ideology are the main reasons for domination. People were influenced, they were told that there is only one leader (Hitler, Manson, or Jones) and he wants to make people happy. The propaganda was provided for a long time till people began to obey absolutely, without any deny. Such domination is very dangerous, as people are influenced on the sub-consciousness level and nothing may be done, a person is unable to resist, he/she even do not understand that the bad action is provided. The ideological programming, that all is done in the name of good, is the main focus, and the ways, by which the good is reached, does not make any sense. On the other hand, the question arises, why do people still continue to believe in evil in the name of good, why people are so easily guided and why do they allow others to canvass.

The obedience to the boss as a justified action

The other situation is with the obedience to the boss. This obedience is necessary, and people are occupied by it without any ideological or drug dependence. Social psychology is so structured that people work better under the supervision of some people and that they should be made to submit to others. The hierarchical structure is used in most companies and such companies work better as the responsibilities are divided between the departments and the work is controlled. The control of the work, as it is known, is one of the main stimuli for performing responsibilities. Moreover, self-control is not always so effective, and constructive critics should be provided in order to notice the mistakes and to avoid them in the future. The obedience to the boss is justified in most cases as the system was created many years ago and to ruin this system is impossible as nothing better is crated.

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The attitude to the boss’s authority is different. Two personalities are faced and the peculiarities of these personalities should be accounted for during the work. Considering the submission to the boss, the notable issue should be mentioned, that the domination of the boss under the employees is provided on the legislative base. Boss has the right to give orders, otherwise, why the boss without any power is necessary and what his functions may be. The legitimate power means that “the organization has given the individual the authority to exercise control over the behavior of others for their own good and for good of organization” (Stroh, Northcraft, & Neale, 2002, p. 198). Control is not enough for the healthy functioning of the business, the boss’s authority should be implemented on the employees to achieve a good result and run a successful business.

Obedience to the authority in the world of business is not something strange or wrong, it is the occasional behavior, which should be provided. The obedience to one person usually means that this person is wiser or possesses more experience. The disregard to the boss’s orders may lead to fines or even dismissal from the workplace that, in its turn, may result in the loss of the important salary. The obedience to the boss’s orders is the system, which was created many years ago and has been proved to be effective and gives a lot of advantages. The disobedience to the boss’s orders may lead to the ruin of the system, which is considered to be effective, which may lead to loose the advantages, which are provided by the system. The boss obedience system was created not with the aim to provide the domination of one person over the other but to make the business sphere more effective and resultant (Stroh, Northcraft, & Neale, 2002, p. 198).

Considering the experience, which was taken from my personal situation, it may be noted that the obligation, which is imparted on me and the orders, which are given for me by my boss, are not always correct. The main problem is that the problems with the orders are seen by me and often the tasks are made by me reluctantly. There are plenty of times at work where I disagree with my boss, but she is the boss. I have to follow the rules she sets down for me. However, I have learned from experience that time usually proves me correct and her new rules play their course. It is extremely hard for me at times to obey what I am being told. I have learned to adapt to my independence streak at work. It is that streak that has led me to desire my degree to be somewhere that I can be true to myself.

Resistance to obedience

The importance of resistance the obedience is the crucial point in business relations. The boss, as was discussed above is usually smarter, but it is not always so. There are situations when the worker is able to refuse to obey without any punishment, but the reasons should be firm. Returning to Milgram’s experiment, 26 of 40 continued the experiment till the end and used the maximum of 450 volts on people. What did the others do? They just refused, but the refusal was in polite form, without cries or demands. The simple answer, whether we should stop, for now, sound not categorically, and the authorities may listen to this and stop the experiment. The same deals with the business company. If the person feels that the moral responsibility is higher than the boss demands, the conclusions should be made: whether to go to the boss and say about the problem, to continue doing what said, even if it contradicts some personal considerations, or to quite without regret as the soul will be clean.


People are eager to make their choices themselves, whether blindly obey the orders or to think what are going to be the consequences of the orders and how they contradict personal principles and considerations. Obedience to the boss in most cases is a justified action, but taking such events as Holocaust, Jonestown, or Manson’s killing spree, with Hitler, Manson, Jones as the main characters, make people think whether it is so important to obey the leader and what makes people for blind obedience to killers and criminals who think they have the right to take up people’s lives and get nothing for this. In most cases, people provide the choice by themselves and they are responsible for their choices as there is nobody who is eager to make others kill or to poison, as only people’s desire to do this is the main way to making the order. Ideology and operating with some drugs are the reasons to obey in most cases, but there are usually people, who decide whether to go there, whether to believe that persona, and that ideology. People are clever creations and they create their life such as they want them to be. The authority is the person who directs and advises, but the decisions should be provided individually.


American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. Meeting, M. S., Williams, S. M., American Philosophical Association. (2005). Political exclusion and domination. NYU Press, New York.

Cesarani, D. & Kavanaugh, S. (2004).Holocaust: Hitler, Nazism and the “racial state”. Routledge, London.

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Goldberg, D. E. (2006). The entrepreneurial engineer: personal, interpersonal, and organizational skills for engineers in a world of opportunity. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Kephas, A. (2004). The lucid view: investigations into occultism, ufology and paranoid awareness. Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton.

Myers, D. G. (2008). Social Psychology. McGraw-Hill Humanities, New York.

Stroh, L. K., Northcraft, G. B., & Neale, M. A. (2002). Organizational behavior: a management challenge. Routledge, London.

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