Comparing Milgram's Obedience And The Jonestown Massacre

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Obedience is a form of social influence where an individual behaves in a way as a response to an order from an authority figure. Conformity is the act of matching behaviors or beliefs to a group norm. Obedience is different from conformity because obedience occurs when a person is told to do something, whereas conformity occurs through social pressure; there is a hierarchy of power involved with obedience.

Stanley Milgram studied obedience shortly after World War II when Nazi soldiers defended themselves on the basis of obedience of their superiors during the Nuremburg Trials. Milgram was interested to find if these soldiers were truly just following orders, or if they were accomplices finding a defense for their actions. This prompted him
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In the 1970s, a man by the name of Jim Jones started a religious cult in Africa. Over nine hundred followers of Jones willingly participated in a mass suicide. Jones asserted himself as a man of God, he was the authority figure. These people joined his temple to worship God and receive his praises. Jones spun words that these people listened to because he was the authority, the closest man to God these people had. Like Milgram, Jones told people what to do and these people listened. Unlike Milgram though, this was not an experiment. This was a real life situation of misguided…show more content…
He found that most individuals will ignore their own moral boundaries in the presence of an authority figure. These individuals ignore their own beliefs even more so when prompted more than once to do what they were ordered to do (ie willing to give a lethal shock to a stranger when told to do so two or three times). This ideality is what happened in Jonestown. Jim Jones led these people astray in a cult disguised by religion. He told his followers what they wanted to hear to gain their trust, to manipulate them to the point where they would do anything he said. After claims of abuse and other issues surfaced about this supposed utopian society, Jim Jones ordered his followers to ingest poisoned punch as guards stood by. Those who refused were forced to swallow or were shot. Over nine hundred individuals followed Jones to the grave because he ordered them to do so. They killed themselves, and their loved ones, without a second

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