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Cruelty, Disobedience and Social Conditions Essay


Cruelty is often viewed as a violent action, which promotes the aggressive nature of human beings. Despite having an individual contribution to each offensive act, the role of the circumstance cannot be underestimated, as various social factors tend to affect the reaction of a person to a particular event. Nonetheless, I tend to believe that social conditions have a minor role in the decision-making, and the individual perception of cruelty and the level of egoism define the involvement in the cruel or prohibiting violence, as aggression is normality for some persons. Meanwhile, the presence of fear of punishment and public ignorance is regarded as the core excuses for not taking part in the activities, but some of the ignorance can be viewed as a psychological reaction to the event leading to self-protection. Consequently, several situations and experiments will be analyzed to determine the possibility of the social influence and authorities to affect the person’s actions during the cruel moments.


Firstly, The Milgram’s study was aimed at the discovery of the nature of the obedience, and questions whether one should obey when the actions involve a high level of cruelty and conflict (Milgram 169). Meanwhile, the experiment design is highly associated with cruelty and obedience, as the participants have different roles as a subordinate and authority (Milgram 169). According to the experiment, the leader was in control of the shock experimentation, and the power contributed to the rise of the belligerence, as it complies with the initial nature of the hypothesis as the aggression is the natural part of a human being (Milgram 179).

The research can conclude that the designated power and the orders of the experimenter play the role of the rise of the aggression and indifference to the pain of the learner. Despite the cruel nature, the series of experiments were able to depict the ability of the head of the extermination to influence the actions of the leader in the majority of the cases. Nonetheless, one woman was able to express her dissimilar opinion, and her disobedience was the primary cause of its termination. This example portrays that cruelty due to obedience cannot be considered as an exception, as each personality has a right to express his/her opinion regarding the situation, and this aspect reflects an individual attitude towards cruelty.

Another situation was the murder of Kitty Genoverse at night in New York while the Winston Moseley stabbed her to death and the lights in the windows did not stop him, as he did highly doubted the possibility of the help to come (Slater 95). His actions were associated with cruelty and disobedience but can be viewed as the result of social circumstances since he discovered the possibility that there would be no objection to his actions. Nonetheless, the individual attitude of the murderer towards the violence played the defining role, as, he regarded this activity as an essential part of his life. Meanwhile, the witnesses did not take the actions, as their ignorance can be defined as an act of self-protection. In this case, the decision was logical, as the witnesses could not communicate.

The case presented above is highly controversial, and in this instance, Darley and Latane wanted to determine the reasons for the absence of the actions of the witnesses of Kitty’s murder (Slater 98). To assure the existence of the correlation between the activities and the circumstances, the researchers conducted a seizure experiment, while the naïve subject was supposed to share his challenges of the university life with the other pre-recorded students (Slater 99). One of the recorded voice was aimed to have a seizure during the conversation to see the reaction of the participating students (Slater 99).

The results revealed that the people tended to rely on each other while seeing the murderer and Kitty’s murder occurred due to the inability of the witnesses to interact to take action (Slater 100). In turn, the participant’s level of apathy and lack of desire to be hurt was associated with the group size, as it was believed that there were enough applicants to change the situation (Slater 103). The presence of this situation reveals that egoistic nature tends to dominate, but it is highly related to self-protection. Nonetheless, the role of the authority, in this case, is minimal, and each participant had an individual decision not to get involved in the process.

Alternatively, the Smoke Experiment portrays the association between the rank and the carelessness behavior, as only the insignificant number of the participants reported about the smoke from the ventilating system (Slater 104). Meanwhile, the majority of the members relied on the negligence of the confederates (Slater 103). In this case, the results represented that people had a tendency to count on the authorized people than expressing personal opinions regarding the situation. This experiment can be viewed as a counterargument in comparison to the examples provided above, as, in this instance, the actions and view of the authority can be observed as a priority in the decision-making of the individuals. Nonetheless, some of them still reported about the issue and contributed to the understanding of the source of the problem while showing their viewpoints regarding the situation.

Based on the information provided above, the cruelest circumstances were selected for the analysis of the dependence of the actions of the authorities on individual decision-making. In this case, the experiment using different volumes of electricity to shock people could be viewed as cruel since it required causing potential harm to another individual (Milgram 179). The role of the authority was significant, as the experimenter assigned the responsibilities to the leader (Milgram 179). Nonetheless, despite the presented orders, one of the participants was able to express the opinion about the cruelty of the experiment, and this act underlined the possibility of the individual to express his/her opinion without being scared of the punishment. A similar situation related to disobedience is the murder of Kitty Genoverse, as the killer did not consider the negative consequences of the crime and made the individual decision concerning the cruelty (Slater 104). Meanwhile, the absence of actions among witnesses was a favorable condition, which defined the necessity of the murder commitment.


In the end, all of the situations mentioned above tend to portray that cruelty is an abnormal act, which is viewed negatively in society. The circumstances do not play the last role, but they do not tend to define overall reasons for the person’s behavior. Nonetheless, the distinct nature of the individual tends to reflect his/her acceptability of aggression, as the examples with the woman from the Milgram’s experiment and actions of Winston Moseley are opposite acts, which took place under the similar influence of authority. In this case, the actions of an individual in the stressful situations reflect his/her actual nature, as people who do not want to find the solution to the issue have a tendency to find excuses by mentioning the adverse consequences of the disobedience and reliance on the other members of the society regarding the critical decision-making. Nonetheless, the lack of participation cannot be regarded as cruelty on a regular basis, as sometimes, it is a necessity.

Works Cited

Milgram, Stanley. “The Perils of Obedience.” Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrence and Leonard Rosen. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991. 167-182. Print.

Slater, Lauren. Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Cruelty, Disobedience and Social Conditions." September 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cruelty-disobedience-and-social-conditions/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Cruelty, Disobedience and Social Conditions." September 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cruelty-disobedience-and-social-conditions/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Cruelty, Disobedience and Social Conditions'. 29 September.

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