Why Do People Obey Authority Figures?

People obey authority figures out of lawfulness, respect and fear. Law-abiding citizens in a nation are usually expected to obey authority figures every day without question.

An authority figure is someone in power who takes control and commands others. The American Psychological Association discusses Stanley Milgram's groundbreaking experiment and concludes that many people blindly obey authority figures and allow them to define what is right and wrong. Citizens are taught from a young age to obey the commands of authority figures. Many individuals fear the consequences of not following authority, so they choose to comply. People who rebel against authority figures are viewed as unlawful and disobedient citizens, and such actions can be seriously punishable by law. Citizens who wish to avoid fines, citations and jail time are expected to obey authority figures and respond to their requests.

In a civilized nation, authority futures of all types are meant to be representations of the good and virtuous in a society. In every area of life, there are authority figures present to run the show. Parents are authority figures in the home, teachers are authorities in schools, and managers are commanders in the workplace. Many people of all ages look up to and admire authority figures, so their directions and advice are often followed.