Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 20 Issue 1 (January/February 2010), Pages 1-81

The obedience–disobedience dynamic and the role of responsibility (pages 1-14)

Abstract

Obedience has been thoroughly studied in social psychology, both in its positive and negative aspects. Nevertheless, in these empirical studies disobedience has been considered to be the opposite of obedience and indeed its negation. Instead, some recent studies suggest that if obedience to authority is important in ensuring the continuity of social and group life, disobedience is crucial, under some circumstances, in stopping the authority relationship from degenerating into an authoritarian relationship. In this perspective, disobedience may be conceived of as a protest undermining the legitimacy of authority, or else it can represent an instrument of the community for controlling the legitimacy of the authority's demands, becoming a factor safeguarding against authoritarianism. The aim of the present study was to empirically verify the dynamics existing between disobedience and obedience. The results show that people who attach importance to both obedience and disobedience in the relationship between the individual and society recognize the importance of democratic values and consider themselves responsible for the defence of human rights. Instead, people who only recognize the value of obedience and consider disobedience as a threat to the status quo are more authoritarian, individualistic people. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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