Obedience can come at a personal cost – New study digs into the personality of people who unquestionably follow orders

A recent study from PsychTests.com reveals that people who reluctantly but willingly do what they are told are more likely to struggle with confidence issues, to be uncomfortable expressing their feelings, and to crave approval.

MONTREAL, March 26, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Of the 40 male participants who took part in the famous (or infamous) Milgram obedience study, 65% reached the maximum threshold of 450 volts. Basically, more than half of the participants agreed to follow the experimenter’s order to administer a painful – albeit fake – electric shock to an actor who could be heard screaming in pain and crying in an adjacent room.

Although this study has been extensively disparaged and would be considered unethical by today’s standards, it does beg the question: What is the personality profile of people who unquestionably follow orders they disagree with? Researchers at PsychTests attempted to shed some light on this pattern.

Analyzing data collected from 12,259 people who took the Emotional Intelligence Test, PsychTests’ researchers examined the personality profile of people who follow orders even when they disagree with them (“Compliers”) and those who don’t (“Defiers”). Here’s what their analysis revealed:

AS EXPECTED, COMPLIERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE UNASSERTIVE AND LESS LIKELY TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES
> 43% of Compliers are uncomfortable sharing their feelings (compared to 29% of Defiers).
> 36% are self-conscious about asking questions (compared to 16% of Defiers).
> 41% hesitate to express their ideas for fear of being ridiculed (compared to 11% of Defiers).
> 52% are not comfortable asking for what they want, even when they really want it (compared to 30% of Defiers).
> 57% consistently put others’ needs ahead of their own, even when doing so leaves them feeling angry or resentful (compared to 30% of Defiers).
> 38% won’t correct their boss when he or she makes a mistake (compared to 27% of Defiers).
> 33% are intimidated by people who have strong personalities (compared to 12% of Defiers).
> 47% avoid confrontation (compared to 24% of Defiers).

COMPLIERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO LACK CONFIDENCE AND TO FEEL UNSURE OF THEMSELVES
> 40% of Compliers experience frequent self-doubt (compared to 21% of Defiers).
> 23% back down from challenges (compared to 6% of Defiers).
> 33% won’t feel confident about a decision unless it’s approved by others (compared to 12% of Defiers).
> 30% feel more secure when someone makes decisions for them (compared to 10% of Defiers).
> 57% have a tendency to ruminate excessively (compared to 36% of Defiers).
> 48% are fearful of what the future holds for them (compared to 27% of Defiers).
> 27% feel like they have no control over their lives (compared to 11% of Defiers).
> 37% said they can’t figure out what they want out of life (compared to 22% of Defiers).
> 37% dislike change (compared to 19% of Defiers).
> 29% need a push from someone in order to feel motivated (compared to 12% of Defiers).

COMPLIERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE A HIGH NEED FOR APPROVAL
> 37% of Compliers change their attitude, behavior, or appearance in order to please others (compared to 11% of Defiers).
> 53% want to be liked by everyone (compared to 34% of Defiers).
> 60% apologize even when they haven’t done anything wrong (compared to 22% of Defiers).
> 42% have adopted certain beliefs simply because it’s what family or friends believe (compared to 16% of Defiers).
> 41% often feel taken advantage of (compared to 17% of Defiers).

OTHER INTERESTING STATS FROM PSYCHTESTS’ STUDY:
> 35% of Compliers and 46% of Defiers believe that some acts of dishonesty can be justified.
> 77% of Compliers and 80% of Defiers said that they typically consider the ethical consequences of their decisions
> When a person’s opinion is very different from their own, 58% of Compliers and 52% of Defiers said that they are willing to at least hear the person out before making a judgment call.

“When we look at the results of this study in light of the protests in response to COVID-19 measures, it’s understandable why some people felt the need to complain, especially when restrictions became stricter,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “When you take people’s freedoms away without fully explaining – or understanding – why you’re doing it, you’re going to get backlash. This isn’t to say that people should routinely rebel against orders. Both extremes – blind obedience and stubborn disobedience – are problematic, in your personal and professional life. However, if you feel uncomfortable doing what a manager or authority tells you because deep down your gut is telling you it’s wrong, it’s better to speak up. Yes, it might get you in trouble, but imagine how you will feel about yourself if you followed orders in spite of your misgivings? You wouldn’t hate the other person for forcing you, you’d struggle with your own conscience. Many people don’t know that some of the participants in the Milgram study were not brought up to speed after it concluded. So they never knew that the shocks they administered were actually fake, or that the victim was an actor. Can you imagine the regret and guilt they may have carried with them for the rest of their lives?”

Want to assess your EQ? Check out the Emotional Intelligence Test at https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3979

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com).

Media Contact

Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D, PsychTests AIM Inc., 5147453189, [email protected]

SOURCE PsychTests AIM Inc.

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