(Dis)Obedience in U.S. American Young Adults: A New Way to Describe Authority Relationships

Maura Pozzi, Alessandro Quartiroli, Sara Alfieri, Francesco Fattori, Carlo Pistoni


The present research aims to investigate the psychosocial phenomena of obedience and disobedience in young adults residing in the United States, as a replication of a previous study by Pozzi, Fattori, Bocchiaro, and Alfieri (2014). We utilize social representation theory as a means to better understand and define (dis)obedience, a behavioral dimension of the concept of authority. The analysis was conducted using a concurrent mixed methods design. One hundred and fifty-one participants completed a self-report online questionnaire. The results indicate that participants see both obedience and disobedience as related to an authority. Obedience was mostly perceived as an ability to be responsive to laws, social norms, or physical authorities, as well as a positive social object. Disobedience, instead, was defined as a failure of a negative line of conduct. These results differ from previous research, contributing meaningfully and pragmatically to the theoretical debate on (dis)obedience. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.


obedience; disobedience; social representation; cultural comparison; young adults

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