Preserving us by defending others

I guess the obedience experiments are well known. But I wonder if anyone's studied the reactions of the 'obedient' when they are posed with evidence that lays bare an untruth they took to?

Let me explain. And let me also caution this is conjecture territory. Jaden's pretty hung up on keeping his class teacher happy. In fact he takes care he matches up to her expectation. Every evening he's pumped up on doing his home play 'cos he's eager to present it to his teacher the next day. Now I think that's nice. But then there's a slight hitch. One day he comes home and matches the word Y to a picture of a Yacht, and then says 'Y for Ship'. I correct him and say 'Y for Yacht'. He isn't pleased. He insists, 'Y for Ship'. I ask why? Exasperated, he retorts, 'cos teacher says so!' Now I am not so sure how I can get him to have a change of heart. He's intent on sticking to what his teacher told him, plus I can spy disappointment on his face when he struggles with the thought of his teacher having messed up on the word-match.

Obedience is exacted easy if we perceive the other party to be in authority. But I guess the story doesn't end there. I think we'd go out of our way to defend the 'authority' we bowed to, should their wisdom be called into question. In fact we may probably shut our ears to any information that runs contrary to what we took to, as part of our obedience. Now consumers too at times behave similarly when they operate in obedience territory. For example, a few years ago as part of her dissertation, one of my students found that people who scurry to spiritual gurus take to obeying their diktats without any questions. They refuse to heed any information that runs contrary to what they've been made to believe. So much so, they even get violent when any suggestion is made regarding their irrational obedience. Its almost as if they'd do anything to protect the authority they put their faith on.

On the surface though it seems people are trying to 'protect' the authority they subscribed to, I believe needing to obey and then defending obedience is more about our need to protect ourselves from being proven irrational. We aren't so much nurturing the party in authority. Instead we are cocooning us so we aren't disappointed in our own selves. Its I believe an act of self-preservation.

Of course, that's hardly surprising.


Unknown said…
I have same feeling when someone disagree with your thoughts mostly because they dont beleive that preception dictates reality
and than we have long discussion about you :)
Asha said…
A group of Direct Selling agents of Amway, are 'trained' not to disagree or argue with the controversial comments they face from competitors or public, instead they are taught to agree verbally and believe in their own product.I guess this helps then continue their obedience to the Amway products.
Unknown said…
I believe needing to obey and then defending obedience is more about our need to protect ourselves from being proven irrational.

It is difficult to accept that your choice was idiotic. Also when you trust someone and it proves wrong the problem is two fold.

1. You feel cheated and embarrassed about your belief structure collapsing and you being proved false.

2. The deeper wound is in the fact that you don't, cant trust the person again and have to find another one to follow or obey. For all these days you have been obeying blindly and lie was so comfortable but now the base is shaken.

The need to follow and obey can be daunting.

Very well explained.
Ray Titus said…
Interesting you say that, Nikhil.

Prof. Asha, about the Amway DSAs, I am not sure how it works, but I guess maybe their 'obedience' to the brand is far-fetched?

Thanks, Vamshi.

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