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Obedience, Power, and Leadership

15 January, 2016 - 09:19

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe and interpret the results of Stanley Milgram’s research on obedience to authority.
  2. Compare the different types of power proposed by John French and Bertram Raven and explain how they produce conformity.
  3. Define leadership and explain how effective leaders are determined by the person, the situation, and the person-situation interaction.

One of the fundamental aspects of social interaction is that some individuals have more influence than others. Social power can be defined as the ability of a person to create conformity even when the people being influenced may attempt to resist those changes (Fiske, 1993; Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003). Bosses have power over their workers, parents have power over their children, and, more generally, we can say that those in authority have power over their subordinates. In short, power refers to the process of social influence itself—those who have power are those who are most able to influence others.