Authority Relationship From a Societal Perspective: Social Representations of Obedience and Disobedience in Austrian Young Adults

Francesco Fattori, Simone Curly, Amrei C. Jörchel, Maura Pozzi, Dominik Mihalits, Sara Alfieri

Abstract


Obedience and disobedience have always been salient issues for both civil society and social psychologists. Since Milgram’s first studies on destructive obedience there has not been a bottom-up definition of what obedience and disobedience mean. The current study aimed at investigating the social representations young adults use to define and to co-construct knowledge about obedience and disobedience in Austria. One hundred fifty four (106 females, 68.8%) Austrian young adults (Mean age = 22.9; SD = 3.5) completed a mixed-method questionnaire comprising open-ended questions and free word associations. Overall obedience and disobedience are respectively defined as conformity and non-conformity to regulations, ranging from implicit social norms to explicit formal laws. Authority is multi-faceted and has a central role in orienting obedience and disobedience. Further fundamental determinants of the authority relationship and relevant application of the results are discussed in this paper.

Keywords


social representations; obedience; disobedience; young adults; mixed-method approach

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https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v11i2.883