March 21, 2012
Everyone has their own morals and opinions on life situations, but these morals and opinions can be overpowered or influenced by people or groups of people. Human beings have a need to feel loved, belonged and accepted. These basic human needs can break our morals for good, but most of the time for bad. In the following essay, human behavior in stressful situations will be looked at in depth, through many sociological cases and experiments. Social groups can manipulate are actions, abolish are freedom and sell out our moral and ethical conscious.
Society in general would like to think that they don’t care what other people think and they like to believe they’re not a slave to anyone. Unfortunately people are pushed into decisions they know are wrong because of groupthink. According to the textbook, groupthink is “Group pressure to conform despite individual misgivings.”(Brym, Lie) Group pressure can lead people to do things they know are wrong, such as smoking a cigarette. The Solomon Asch experiment can explain the tendencies of group conformity. Five actors and one real person are taking part in a simple test, expressing their answers vocally to the tester. The five actors on purpose say the wrong answer and more often than not, the real person struggles with speaking his mind and giving the correct answer. Seventy-five percent of the time, this person will conform to the group’s answer, even though they know the answer is wrong. In sociological terms, this person was viewed as out-group at first, then in-group after.
A person with power can motivate, inspire and control people for good or bad. Debatably, Stephen Harper is using his power for good. Hitler on the other hand used his power for bad. During world war two, German soldiers were not bad people but they did horrible things. Two things occurred. The soldiers were designated separate jobs during the massacre, therefore they were distanced from the crime, someone else took the blame and they did not have to witness the complete horror. The other thing was that the soldiers had a great deal of conformity and group cohesion. The same thing is occurring in Afghanistan with the terrorists who are arrested and stored in prisons. Good soldiers are abusing potential terrorists because it is being condoned and almost expected to get the information needed from these people. In Milgram’s obedience experiment, a normal person is selected to ask questions to a fake subject in another room, said to be hooked up to a shock system. There is an important looking scientist taking notes as the questions are asked, while shocked are administered for wrong answers. The person asking questions in most cases would continue giving shocks to the subject, repeatedly hearing screams and cries for help, but would not stop because the person in power told them to continue with the questions. This was a very controversial but revealing experiment on human nature in the presence of power. Another good example of this is the Mcdonald’s 2004 Case. There was a man calling fast food restaurants around the country claiming to be a police officer and demanding managers and employees to do certain things to comply with the law. At one Mcdonald’s however, the caller convinced the manager to call in a young female employee into the office for a drug investigation. The caller managed to get the female manager’s boyfriend to come in and speak with him on the phone. Later on, the young female was instructed to remove all of her clothes and perform sexual acts on the manager’s boyfriend. The woman manager at Mcdonald’s, sums up the controlling ability of a person in power and the blind obedience that follows, with this quote, “You don’t know what you would do, unless you’re in that situation.” (Mcdonald’s 2004 Case)
During emergencies, people in groups will act differently than if they were by themselves. This is illustrated in “The