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Obedience Concept and Impact Research Paper

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Updated: May 4th, 2022

Obedience is a, character trait that makes a person to submit to instructions from a person with more authority. It is considered a morally positive trait because it allows a person to comply with instructions and expectations in a given society. However, a person who complies with instructions from an authoritative figure needs to ensure that his obedience does not expose other people to harm. All individuals need to be careful with the choices they make to ensure they conform to good behavior and norms observed in societies they live. This paper will discuss why obedience occurs and how it affects people living in different societies. Obedience occurs due to influential systems or attitudes that affect the way a human being behaves in a particular social environment. A person becomes obedient after being influenced by a dominant figure in the society he or she lives to change his behavior and attitude.

Dominant and authoritative figures influence other people to follow their ideas and instructions. Dominant figures include parents, teachers, senior military commanders and religious leaders. They make many people obey their instructions and authority. For an act of obedience to occur, a person needs to see the value of that action within the organization or social system he is active in. This will make him more willing to follow and satisfy the expectations of the authoritative figures in that social set up. People are known to be more obedient when there are proper discipline systems that made them submit to authoritative figures and ideals (Leveillee, 2011, p.1).

There are several factors that make people become obedient. People have to be directed by dominant figures in society for them to change their behavior. Highly organized environments with effective disciplinarian systems make it possible for people to submit to authority. In the military, discipline and obedience are highly treasured ideals because they make it possible for commanders to keep members of their units in line.

All members are required to adhere to strict disciplinary protocols before they are declared fit to serve as military officers. Effective organization makes it possible for junior members in a particular social system to shape their behavior and attitudes to conform to dominant ideals practiced there. The discipline that binds these members together makes them understand the importance of submitting to authority and this makes them more obedient to their superiors (Bocchiaro & Zimbardo, 2010, p.156).

Some social systems regulate how people relate with each other. In many Middle Eastern cultures, the youth are required to be obedient to elders in their societies without question. These cultures have a social hierarchy system, where the elderly are accorded more respect because they are considered wiser and more experienced on different issues. They are given priority over young people because they are very influential on different matters that are important to people living in these societies. Bocchiaro and Zimbardo (2010) argue that this makes young people recognize the value of obedience which increases their respect for authority (p. 160).

The role played by Islamic teachings has an influence on the way young people obey instructions given to them by their elders. For instance, the U.A.E is one of the most modern countries in the Middle East but its young people still have a lot of respect for Islamic religious leaders and their elders. Obedience makes a person conform to acceptable norms and practices that are considered important in the environment he transacts in. It makes people understand their responsibilities and what is expected of them in social setups they are part of.

Self responsibility is one of the most crucial individual character changes that result from obedience. Self responsibility shapes a person’s behavior which encourages them to make rational choices that conform to dominant practices in their societies. Obedient people need to use their own judgment to understand what motivates them to perform certain actions (Colman, 2009, p. 69).

This helps them to take time to reflect on how their actions affect other members of the society and if these actions conform to dominant attitudes in societies they are living. Therefore, they are able to understand the consequences that are likely to result from their actions. Obedience imparts a sense of duty in a junior person in a social hierarchy because he is made to understand why he needs to observe specific norms.

However, total obedience without rationality drives individuals to perform actions that may harm other people. Some people are coerced by authoritarian figures to commit crimes on their behalf to show that they are loyal and willing to serve. They are manipulated to do evil deeds to gain acceptance in organizations they have chosen to be part of. For instance, some gangs and criminal groups force new members to commit crimes to show how brave and fearless they are (Colman, 2009, p. 72). This is used as a process of initiation that conditions a new member to value criminal practices that are considered important to the criminal outfit he has chosen to be part of.


Bocchiaro, P., & Zimbardo, P. (2010). Defying unjust authority: An exploratory study. Current Psychology, 29 (2), 155–170. Web.

Colman, A. (2009). A dictionary of psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Web.

Leveillee, N.P. (2011). . Student Pulse Online Academic Journal, 3 (5), 1. Web.

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