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ERIC Number: ED370010
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 8
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
When Rites Go Wrong: Attributions of Responsibility in a Fraternity Setting.
Drout, Cheryl E.
While studies by Stanley Milgram have shown that obedience to authority influences subjects' willingness to engage in behavior potentially harmful to others, Drout and Vandler (1992) found that observers consider an authority figure who harms or commands another person to harm someone more responsible and punishable than the obedient subordinate. Why does the authority figure command greater censure? Because the authority of the superior is often confounded with the expertise of the superior, the present study examined responses to an authority figure and to a subordinate in a fraternity setting, where there was minimal difference in expertise yet significant difference in authority. It was hypothesized that greater responsibility would be attributed to a fraternity president as executant (forcing a pledge to consume liquor) than to an obedient brother doing his bidding. Findings are that students viewed the president as having more authority and greater liability for harmdoing yet did not consider his behavior more culpable or punishable, holding the fraternity president and brother equally responsible for events and equally punishable. The relationship between authority and responsibility is diminished in the absence of expertise on the part of the authority figure. It is found that the issue of "responsibility" is highly complex and needs clarification in situations involving obedience. Contains 7 references. (MSF)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A