Investigating the Nature of Obedience: The Relevance of Milgram’s Experiment
Stanley Milgram managed to conduct several experiments that reveal the distinct features of the members of our society. He questioned how millions of ordinary people in Germany could obey the immoral commands of the Nazi government and conducted the experiment exploring the mechanisms of human obedience to authorities. Though Milgram’s experiment has provoked a huge amount of criticism, the analysis of internal and external validity, ethical issues, and the contribution of the experiment to modern science reveals the significance of the findings of the study.
The experiment was designed to find out to which extent ordinary people are ready to hurt other innocent …show more content…
After using Yale undergraduates as the subjects of the study, the author was condemned for lack of objectivity in the experiment, as this category of people share similar features, including high competitiveness and aggressiveness aimed at achieving success. Therefore, Miller changed the strategy and selected the participants who were representatives of different social groups, including “professionals, white-collar workers, unemployed persons, and industrial workers” (Miller 362). It let the researcher make conclusions that reflect the disposition peculiar to all members of the society. Besides, Miller conducted the same experiment in different regions (Princeton, Munich, Rome, South Africa, and Australia), where the participants included people of different nations and religions. Such strategy makes the results of the experiment relevant to any country.
Baumrind claimed that as the experiment was held in the laboratory, the atmosphere of the place created certain pressure on the subjects because of the unfamiliarity with the setting (372). The psychologist emphasized that “the anxiety and passivity generated by the setting” contributed to the participants’ inclination to “behave in an obedient suggestible way” (Baumrind 372). However, Milgram has conducted another experiment by renting a place in Bridgeport and presenting it as a commercial organization. The results of the study did not show much
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The Milgram experiment was conducted in 1963 by Stanley Milgram in order to focus on the conflict between obedience to authority and to personal conscience. The experiment consisted of 40 males, aged between 20 and 50, and who’s jobs ranged from unskilled to professional. The roles of this experiment included a learner, teacher, and researcher. The participant was deemed the teacher and was in the same room as the researcher. The learner, who was also a paid actor, was put into the next room and strapped into an electric chair. The teacher administered a test to the learner, and for each question that was incorrect, the learner was to receive an electric shock by the teacher, increasing the level of shock each time. The shock generator ranged from
The Milgram Obedience Study performed by Stanley Milgram proved that people are willing to following instructions given by figures of authority even though the instruction could result in the infliction of pain to others and goes against their personal values. The study had three participants. The first person is the person running the study known as the authority person. The second person is a pretend volunteer who is aware of the course of the study. The third person, who is the only person not aware of the situation, would draw a paper that was fixed to make them be the volunteer of the study. In that role, they would receive
Prompted by this phenomenon, Stanley Milgram investigates this “potent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct.” (Milgram 314) Milgram set up an experiment in which he intended “to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist.” (Milgram 314) Thereby, observations could be made of how long a person would continue to inflict pain. “To extricate himself from this plight, the subject must make a clear break with authority.” (Milgram 315) The basic premise of the study being to learn how an ordinary person reacts when put under pressure to cause great physical harm to a stranger through a series of simulated electrical shocks. However, the subjects are under the impression that they were participating in a study of memory and learning. This is where Diana Baumrind takes issue with Milgram’s study. She feels that “by volunteering, the subject agrees implicitly to assume a posture of trust and obedience.” (Baumrind 326) Basically, Baumrind feels that the setting of a fairly innocuous sounding experiment in a safe, controlled environment of a lab causes the subject to have a false sense of safety in the experimenter’s experience. Therefore, the experiments are prone to produce skewed results, as well as potential psychological injury to the subject. Later analysis of
stressed and he hesitates about fulfilling the experimenter's orders. Desperation and the manifest suffering of the accomplice force the subject to stop the experiment; however, the legitimate authority orders him to continue. In this experiment, Milgram aims to investigate when people refuse to obey and defy authority in an explicitly contradictive situation.
During the Holocaust, millions of Jews were murdered. One specific person did not cause these deaths, because there was a division of labor. Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi organizer of these mass murders, never saw the direct effects of the genocide he was orchestrating. After the Holo-caust, Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to study the levels of obedience to authority; he used his experiment to find where evil resided in people and to discover the cause of the Holo-caust. Some people found his findings useful information, while others thought his experiment was morally unacceptable due to his use of deception. Diana Baumrind, author of “Some Thoughts on the Ethics of Research: After Reading Milgram’s ‘Behavioral Study of Obedi-ence,’” disagrees with Milgram’s use of deception and manipulation in his experiment. Con-trasting Baumrind, Richard Herrnstein, author of “Measuring Evil,” believes deception was nec-essary in order for Milgram’s experiment to be effective. Deception is ultimately needed in the experiment, especially because Milgram’s findings are beneficial information for social science.
This does not come across as a logical conclusion and sheds light on the illogicality of Baumrind’s argument. Her writing is filled with emotionally loaded terms such as “humiliate”, “manipulate”, “emotional-disturbance”, “traumatic” (295, 296) and claims that Milgram’s experiment relied on deception and harmed its subjects. These are all words that possess negative connotation and conjure up a specific type of negative image when read. By trying to appeal to the emotion of her readers and forgoing logic in exchange, Baumrind overloads her argument with too much emotion and fails to logically prove why Milgram’s experiments should not be replicated.
There has been many variations of this experiment also. For example, the teacher was free to choose the shock level and thirty-eight of the forty subjects did not go above 150 volts. Another example would be when the experimenter gave the instructions by telephone. Only one third of the subjects were obedient in this version of the experiment. The subjects found it easier to disobey when they were not face to face with the experimenter.
Controversy in the ethics of the experiment comes from the deception used and psychological harm experienced by some of the participants. Milgram believed that for the
In “The Stanford Prison Experiment” Philip G. Zimbardo discusses an experiment he conducted, which consisted of college students portraying guards and prisoners in a simulated prison. Shortly after the experiment began, it was stopped, due to the mistreatment of the prisoners and the overall psychological abuse inflicted on them by the prison guards (Zimbardo 116). In “The Perils of Obedience” Stanley Milgram writes about a controversial experiment in which he requests volunteers to assist him in shocking participants who answer incorrectly to certain questions on the opposite side of a wall. The shock that the volunteers believe they are administering could cause great harm or even be deadly to the participants. After Milgram conducts
* The IV was the presence of the authority figure and the DV was the
A Yale University psychologist named Stanley Milgram started a research experiment that investigated the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience (McLeod, 2007). This study was conducted in response to the Nuremburg Trials in Germany, as German officials had claimed they were just following orders that were given to them by their superiors. Milgram formulated the experiment so that it could answer the question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?" (Milgram, 1974). However, the objectives of this experiment were not achieved. The objectives were not achieved because the act of shocking a person cannot be compared to the genocide the Germans committed during WWII. Also, Milgram wanted to study whether the Germans were more obedient to authority figures, but he
For the experiment, Milgram required a number of volunteer test subjects and one very good actor. Forty average male participants, between age 20 and 50, were recruited from the New Haven area. Each was paid $4.50 for just showing up. At the beginning of the experiment, they were each introduced to another participant, who was actually an actor hired by Milgram. The volunteers were told that they were taking part in scientific research to improve memory. They drew straws to determine their roles – leaner or teacher –however, unbeknown to the volunteers, this was fixed and the actor always ended up the learner. There was also the “experimenter” dressed in a grey lab coat, played by another hired actor. The teacher and the learner were then separated by a screen,
Consistently, the experimenters lied to the subjects about the reasons of the research, the role they will play, and received monetary compensation to perform during the study. The results were astonishing and prove that American people are easily manipulated by authority figures. The most incredible parts was that this study was performed little after the trial of A. Eichmann, the Holocaust’s serial killer, whose defense was that he was only following orders when he ordered the assassination of millions of Jews. At this point, one should infer that certain individuals are prone to violence and they just need any reason to inflict pain on others. Finally, the experiment will be completely different, if it is performed to day considering that researching rules are stricter today. For instance, the participants have to sign an informed consent. However, as sad as it is the results could be the same or more disastrous for the reason mentioned
Diana Baumrind and Ian Parker have each authored a review of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiments. In Milgram’s experiments, he observed the extent of subjects ' obedience to authority when an experimenter commanded them to deliver possibly harmful electric shocks to another person. According to Milgram, an alarming amount of subjects willingly proceeded to the highest voltage shock in the experiment. In Baumrind 's "Review of Stanley Milgram 's Experiments on Obedience," she attempts to disprove and refute Milgram 's experiments by criticizing his experimental set-up, his lack of safety precautions, his ethically questionable study, and his comparison between his experiments and Nazi Germany. In Parker’s “Obedience,” he seeks to show Milgram 's strengths and weaknesses in order to review his experiments. Parker begins his critique by analyzing Milgram 's ethics and questionable scientific procedure. He then evaluates Milgram 's comparison between his experiment and the Holocaust, summarizes Milgram 's life and the effect it had on his experiments, and introduces the effect of situational factors on obedience. While Parker effectively critiques Milgram’s experiments by discussing Milgram’s ethical flaws and the flaws in his procedure, Baumrind ineffectively and subjectively analyzes these topics; however, both authors effectively critique Milgram’s comparison between his experiments and the Holocaust.
Many say that the reason an event like the Holocaust will never happen again is because no normal person would kill or hurt someone if given the chance. Stanley Milgram put this argument to the test. Milgram conducted an experiment focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. The people who were picked were based on a newspaper listing. All of the participants were regular ordinary people. When the