One of the most famous studies of obedience in psychology was carried out by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University. He conducted an experiment focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. Their defense often was based on " obedience " - that they were just following orders from their superiours. The experiments began in July , a year after the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiment to answer the question:.
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The Milgram experiment s on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants, men from a diverse range of occupations with varying levels of education, to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience.
Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a "learner. The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of subjects would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly.
Milgram first described his research in a article in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology  and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the popular contemporary question: "Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices? The subject and the actor arrived at the session together. The experimenter told them that they were taking part in "a scientific study of memory and learning", to see what the effect of punishment is on a subject's ability to memorize content.
Also, he always clarified that the payment for their participation in the experiment was secured regardless of its development. The subject and actor drew slips of paper to determine their roles. Unknown to the subject, both slips said "teacher". The actor would always claim to have drawn the slip that read "learner", thus guaranteeing that the subject would always be the "teacher". Next, the teacher and learner were taken into an adjacent room where the learner was strapped into what appeared to be an electric chair.
The experimenter told the participants this was to ensure that the learner would not escape. The teacher and learner were then separated such that they could communicate, but not see each other. The teacher was then given a list of word pairs that he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner.
The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in volt increments for each wrong answer.
If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair. The subjects believed that for each wrong answer the learner was receiving actual shocks. In reality, there were no shocks.
After the learner was separated from the teacher, the learner set up a tape recorder integrated with the electroshock generator, which played prerecorded sounds for each shock level. As the voltage of the fake shocks increased, the learner began making audible protests, such as banging repeatedly on the wall that separated him from the teacher. When the highest voltages were reached, the learner fell silent. If at any time the teacher indicated a desire to halt the experiment, the experimenter was instructed to give specific verbal prods.
The prods were, in this order: . If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum volt shock three times in succession.
The experimenter also had prods to use if the teacher made specific comments. If the teacher asked whether the learner might suffer permanent physical harm, the experimenter replied, "Although the shocks may be painful, there is no permanent tissue damage, so please go on. Before conducting the experiment, Milgram polled fourteen Yale University senior-year psychology majors to predict the behavior of hypothetical teachers.
All of the poll respondents believed that only a very small fraction of teachers the range was from zero to 3 out of , with an average of 1. Milgram also informally polled his colleagues and found that they, too, believed very few subjects would progress beyond a very strong shock. They predicted that by the volt shock, when the victim refuses to answer, only 3. Milgram suspected before the experiment that the obedience exhibited by Nazis reflected a distinct German character, and planned to use the American participants as a control group before using German participants, expected to behave closer to the Nazis.
However, the unexpected results stopped him from conducting the same experiment on German participants. In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65 percent 26 of 40 of experiment participants administered the experiment's final massive volt shock,  and all administered shocks of at least volts. Subjects were uncomfortable doing so, and displayed varying degrees of tension and stress.
These signs included sweating, trembling, stuttering, biting their lips, groaning, and digging their fingernails into their skin, and some were even having nervous laughing fits or seizures. Most continued after being assured by the experimenter. Some said they would refund the money they were paid for participating.
The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist.
Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation. Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.
Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
Later, Milgram and other psychologists performed variations of the experiment throughout the world, with similar results. The level of obedience, "although somewhat reduced, was not significantly lower. There were also variations tested involving groups. Thomas Blass of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County performed a meta-analysis on the results of repeated performances of the experiment. The participants who refused to administer the final shocks neither insisted that the experiment be terminated, nor left the room to check the health of the victim without requesting permission to leave, as per Milgram's notes and recollections, when fellow psychologist Philip Zimbardo asked him about that point.
Milgram created a documentary film titled Obedience showing the experiment and its results. He also produced a series of five social psychology films, some of which dealt with his experiments.
The Milgram Shock Experiment raised questions about the research ethics of scientific experimentation because of the extreme emotional stress and inflicted insight suffered by the participants.
Some critics such as Gina Perry argued that participants were not properly debriefed. Milgram repeatedly received offers of assistance and requests to join his staff from former participants.
Six years later at the height of the Vietnam War , one of the participants in the experiment wrote to Milgram, explaining why he was glad to have participated despite the stress:. While I was a subject in , though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority's demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted Conscientious Objector status.
Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience She argued that even though Milgram had obtained informed consent, he was still ethically responsible to ensure their well being. When participants displayed signs of distress such as sweating, trembling, the experimenter should have stepped in and halted the experiment.
In his book published in , Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View , Milgram argued that the ethical criticism provoked by his experiments was because his findings were disturbing and revealed unwelcome truths about human nature. Others have argued that the ethical debate has diverted attention from more serious problems with the experiment's methodology.
Milgram sparked direct critical response in the scientific community by claiming that "a common psychological process is centrally involved in both [his laboratory experiments and Nazi Germany] events. In the opinion of Thomas Blass—who is the author of a scholarly monograph on the experiment The Man Who Shocked The World published in —the historical evidence pertaining to actions of the Holocaust perpetrators speaks louder than words:.
My own view is that Milgram's approach does not provide a fully adequate explanation of the Holocaust. While it may well account for the dutiful destructiveness of the dispassionate bureaucrat who may have shipped Jews to Auschwitz with the same degree of routinization as potatoes to Bremerhaven, it falls short when one tries to apply it to the more zealous, inventive, and hate-driven atrocities that also characterized the Holocaust. In a issue of the journal Jewish Currents , Joseph Dimow, a participant in the experiment at Yale University, wrote about his early withdrawal as a "teacher", suspicious "that the whole experiment was designed to see if ordinary Americans would obey immoral orders, as many Germans had done during the Nazi period.
In Australian psychologist Gina Perry investigated Milgram's data and writings and concluded that Milgram had manipulated the results, and that there was "troubling mismatch between published descriptions of the experiment and evidence of what actually transpired. Shiller argues that other factors might be partially able to explain the Milgram Experiments:. In fact, the experimenter was indeed correct: it was all right to continue giving the "shocks"—even though most of the subjects did not suspect the reason.
In a experiment, a computerized avatar was used in place of the learner receiving electrical shocks. Although the participants administering the shocks were aware that the learner was unreal, the experimenters reported that participants responded to the situation physiologically "as if it were real". Another explanation  of Milgram's results invokes belief perseverance as the underlying cause. What "people cannot be counted on is to realize that a seemingly benevolent authority is in fact malevolent, even when they are faced with overwhelming evidence which suggests that this authority is indeed malevolent.
Hence, the underlying cause for the subjects' striking conduct could well be conceptual, and not the alleged 'capacity of man to abandon his humanity This last explanation receives some support from a episode of the BBC science documentary series Horizon , which involved replication of the Milgram experiment. Of the twelve participants, only three refused to continue to the end of the experiment.
Speaking during the episode, social psychologist Clifford Stott discussed the influence that the idealism of scientific inquiry had on the volunteers. He remarked: "The influence is ideological.
It's about what they believe science to be, that science is a positive product, it produces beneficial findings and knowledge to society that are helpful for society. So there's that sense of science is providing some kind of system for good. Building on the importance of idealism, some recent researchers suggest the 'engaged followership ' perspective. Based on an examination of Milgram's archive, in a recent study, social psychologists Alexander Haslam , Stephen Reicher and Megan Birney, at the University of Queensland , discovered that people are less likely to follow the prods of an experimental leader when the prod resembles an order.
However, when the prod stresses the importance of the experiment for science i. In Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View , Milgram describes 19 variations of his experiment, some of which had not been previously reported. Several experiments varied the distance between the participant teacher and the learner.
Generally, when the participant was physically closer to the learner, the participant's compliance decreased. In the variation where the learner's physical immediacy was closest—where the participant had to hold the learner's arm onto a shock plate—30 percent of participants completed the experiment. The participant's compliance also decreased if the experimenter was physically farther away Experiments 1—4.
For example, in Experiment 2, where participants received telephonic instructions from the experimenter, compliance decreased to 21 percent.
Un punt de vista experimental. El participant voluntari agafa el seu i veu que diu "mestre". Si el "mestre" expressava a l'investigador el seu desig de no continuar, aquest li indicava imperativament i segons el grau:. L'experiment consistia a mostrar-los la sortida als ratolins, dins d'una caixa de parets electrificades. El primer que es va preguntar el desconcertat equip de Milgram va ser com era possible que s'haguessin obtingut aquests resultats. D'altra banda eren plenament conscients del dolor que havien estat infligint, ja que en preguntar-los quin patiment havia experimentat l'alumne la mitjana va ser de 13 en una escala de
Experiment de Milgram
The Milgram experiment s on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants, men from a diverse range of occupations with varying levels of education, to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a "learner. The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of subjects would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly. Milgram first described his research in a article in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology  and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.
Milgram's Experiments and the Perils of Obedience