From a young age, children in are taught to behave in a way that satisfies their society's standards of behavior. Each society has its own standards of behavior, also known as norms. One set of norms may be similar to those of another society, or one society's own set of norms can be the complete opposite of those of another society. But no matter how different or similar, norms are a part a society's core for they are the guidelines to how members are expected to act, and draws a line between what is acceptable and unacceptable. Despite efforts to enforce norms through social control, there are many people who deviate from these norms. Deviance is behavior that violates the standards of a group or society (Witt, 2013, p. 135). The act of deviance comes in many forms that range from harmless acts like a girl shaving her head, or it might be an action that is more extreme like committing murder.
Although they are not always bad, deviant acts can sometimes be seen as terrible and evil acts (Witt, 2013, p.136). One might ask themselves why another person would want to stray from what society finds acceptable. There are many answers to this question, but a unifying factor comes down to who holds the power and authority. In a lecture on the psychology of evil, psychologist and Stanford University professor, Philip Zimbardo (2008), stated, "Evil is the exercise of power." As stated before not all acts of deviance are evil, but if this viewpoint is applied to all deviant acts in general, it is evident that power and authority have a great influence on deviance. Two studies called "Status, Endorsement, and the Legitmacy of Deviance," "The False Enforcement of Unpopular Norms," and the movie The Invention of Lying, are all great examples of how power and authority influence deviance.
In "Status, Endorsement, and the Legitimacy of Deviance," authored by C. Wesley Younts, a sample of 217 male freshman and sophomore undergraduates at a large university were gathered to conduct a study on deviance. The central questions the researchers wanted to answer included: the conditions under which deviance becomes legitimate and expected within the group, and how status and endorsement affect the probability that members will perform and pass on a certain deviant act to newer members.
In the experiment, the researchers established the prohibition from cheating as a norm to all of the participants by explaining that their university's policies on academic misconduct also applied to the experiment. Each participant then examined 15 pictures containing a rectangle composed of smaller black and white shapes. Within 10 seconds they had to decide whether each picture contained more black or more white. As incentive, participants were put under the impression that their pay was dependent on the number of questions they answered correctly, when in reality each person received $15. With that in mind, during the experiment the instructor introduced deviant behavior...