The relationship between the individual and the authority has a pivotal importance within the social sciences and political psychology. Although obedience to authority has been thoroughly studied in social psychology in its positive and negative aspects, many cross-cultural studies still tend to consider obedience as a one-dimensional phenomenon. Some theoretical frameworks have indeed underlined that obedience is a multidimensional issue and disobedience is far to be merely the opposite side of obedience. Obedience and disobedience are more like two independent and correlated notions, which both concur in the definition of the authority relationship. The aim of this research was to empirically verify the multidimensionality of obedience and disobedience and the dynamic between those two concepts. Study 1 has been developed from cross-cultural data (source: World Values Survey). Results underline that obedience has, at least, two dimensions which correlate in a different way with the support for democracy. Differences between these dimensions are mirrored also in the correlations with disobedience, which can be considered a complementary aspect of the pro-democratic obedience. Study 2 probes in more details the differences between the many facets of obedience and disobedience, by analyzing the representational sphere of these two concepts. Results showed that people developing their relationship with authority on both obedience and disobedience are more likely to give importance to humanitarian values and consider themselves responsible for the defence of human rights.
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