Obeying Authority: Should We Trust Them or Not?

Daniel Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Researchers claim impartiality when conducting research and suggest their motives are to improve knowledge. However, when investigating the history of research into obedience to authority, propaganda and power-knowledge are present as well as emotional ties that affect the motives and methods of investigating these areas. With published work from US President Woodrow Wilson proposing obeying authority is necessary to functional societies and the Vatican displaying power-knowledge when censoring heliocentric views, it seems some researchers have ulterior motives. Although researchers like Piaget and Milgram appear to be more integral researchers, Piaget like many utilised observational methods that lack replicability, and Milgram's family history with the events of the Holocaust pose additional issues. Therefore, considering the General Demarcation Problem, it is difficult to distinguish between science and pseudoscience, given all researchers will consider the research they conduct in the present day to be the correct way of doing so. However, adopting a critical mind as to who is conducting the research and the wider implications of who it serves and who it does not serve, would be beneficial for academia and wider society. This comes in a time where many reject the science of critical world issues such as COVID-19 and climate change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2022


  • obedience
  • power-knowledge
  • authority
  • general demarcation problem


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