Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


  • Stephen GibsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1257


Submission to the requirements of an authority.


The standard definition of obedience in psychology is as a form of social influence elicited in response to a direct order or command. However, there are reasons for suggesting that this definition is too narrow in that it specifies that a particular social act – the order or command – is necessary for obedience to occur. Consideration of how the term “obedience” and its derivatives are used in everyday language is instructive. People refer to obeying the law or obeying the word of God, but in neither situation is a direct order required. For example, we don’t typically need an authority figure such as a police officer to order us to drive on the correct side of road or to refrain from leaving a store without paying for our goods. Indeed, for a society to function smoothly, it is necessary that people are able to go about their daily lives without authority having to be exercised directly in the form of explicit...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychological and Social SciencesYork St John UniversityYorkUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ashton Southard
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA