The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo  

Resisting Influence

Prepared by Philip Zimbardo and Cindy X. Wang

Cialdini’s Principles of Social Influence

Authority [Context: Credibility]

The Basics

  • Milgram’s studies of obedience provide evidence of a strong pressure for compliance with the requests of authority figures

  • Strength of tendency to obey comes from systematic socialization of society members that obedience constitutes correct conduct
  • Frequently adaptive to obey dictates of genuine authorities because such individuals usually possess high levels of knowledge, wisdom, and power

  • Deference to authorities can occur in a mindless fashion as a decision-making shortcut

  • Tendency to respond to "symbols and signs of authority" rather than to its substance

  • Failure to distinguish between Just and Unjust Authority
How It’s Exploited
  • Experiments show that certain authority symbols effectively promote compliance:

    • Titles

    • Clothing (expensive suits, uniforms, authority symbols, medals, hats, etc.)

    • Authority Location (Office, carpet on floor, etc. Fancy Stationary)

    • Automobiles (association with wealth, privilege, power with authority)

Best Defense
  • Question yourself - is this authority truly an expert? How truthful is he or she?

  • Direct attention away from symbols and toward evidence for authority status

  • Be aware of attempts of others to appear more trustworthy or credible than they are

  • Seek independent evaluation of authority deserved status

  • Be sensitive to changes in authority behavior, demands over time, from initially acceptable to ultimately abusive and unjust.

©2006-2016, Philip G. Zimbardo

About the Book

About the Movie

About Phil Zimbardo

Stanford Prison Experiment

Celebrating Heroism

Resisting Influence


Other Links and Information

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