Stanley Milgram's Obedience Experiments Essay

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The complexities of a human’s willingness to submit to another person’s will have intrigued mankind since the formation of societal groups. Only in recent history has there been any studies conducted which so completely capture the layman’s imagination as the obedience experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram. As one of the few psychological experiments to have such an attention grabbing significance, Milgram discovered a hidden trait of the human psyche that seemed to show a hidden psychotic in even the most demure person. Milgram presents his startling findings in “The Perils of Obedience”. Publication created a great deal of discussion, with one of the more vocal critics being Diana Baumrind, who details her points of contention in the …show more content…
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
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