Obedience and disobedience have always been salient issues for both civil society and social psychologists. Since Milgram’s first studies on destructive obedience there has not been a bottom-up definition of what obedience and disobedience mean. The current study aimed at investigating the social representations young adults use to define and to co-construct knowledge about obedience and disobedience in Austria. One hundred fifty four (106 females, 68.8%) Austrian young adults (Mean age = 22.9; SD = 3.5) completed a mixed-method questionnaire comprising open-ended questions and free word associations. Overall obedience and disobedience are respectively defined as conformity and non-conformity to regulations, ranging from implicit social norms to explicit formal laws. Authority is multi-faceted and has a central role in orienting obedience and disobedience. Further fundamental determinants of the authority relationship and relevant application of the results are discussed in this paper.
- social representation
- young adults