OBEDIENCE AND ETHICS-
The Culture of Shock See Article In Resources
Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s studies have gained a resurgence of interest. Can you think of recent events that might have caused this? I have attached an article from Scientific American. I apologize that it is upside down and you will have to print it to read it.
Also, my most recent issue of Monitor on Psychology there is a short review on Milgram Redux. Researchers from Poland (we couldn’t get this approved in the US) replicated the study and found the same results – 90% of participants were willing to administer the highest shock level
Let me know what you think and how Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s studies might still find some applicability today.
RESOURCE for this assignment
For most people, the nightmare of the Holocaust was a gross pathology, a social sickness brought about by specific circumstances: the brutality of the Naziregime or certain traits in the German character. But in the 1960s, a young American psychologist,Stanley Milgram, had a different theory.
Rather than being pathological,supposing the concentration camps were just an example of normal behavior in extreme circumstances?
– What he was particularly interested in was,under what conditions will people follow instructions which will result in harm to somebody else, in suffering to somebody else?
And beyond that,he was interested in whether the responses to instructions to do harm,the pressure to obey are normal,whether normal people,any average person,would respond.
– To test these theories, Milgram devised a series of experiments, experiments that were to change the face of psychological research forever.
Imagine you’re one of Milgram’s volunteers.
You’ve answered an a din the paper to take part in a psychological experiment.
You’re told it’s about testing whether giving mild punishments in the form of electrics hocks will improve the memory of the subject.
You find yourself playing the role of teacher,and you’re introduced to someone you’re told is the learner.
– The learner was then subjected to electric shocks every time they made a mistake in the learning process.
And because it appeared they weren’t very smart, the instructions required that you keep increasing the level of shock.
So each time the learner made a mistake,the shock level had to rise.
And potentially,it could go up to, apparently,450 volts.
– And the question was how far they would go up the scale, how far they would respond to the screams and the ultimately the silence of the person that was listening to– who was answering the questions.
– Every time they expressed some reluctance about carrying on,the experiment would say,”No, the instructions require that you continue.” So Milgram was interested to see how far people would go under those circumstances.
At what point would they say, “No, I’m not going to give any more electric shocks.
I’m not going to increase the voltage.” – So how far do you think you’d have gone if you’d have been a teacher Perhaps further than you think.
The results of these experiments surprised even Milgram and his research team.
– He asked a large number of students and psychiatrists before the research took place,how far did they think the participants would go?
And the average was about 120,150 volts.
And nobody was predicted to go beyond 300 volts.
In the event,everybody went beyond 300 volts.
And 2/3 of them, as we now know,went all the way.
And even when there was no answer from the person next door,still they went on.
And remarkably, a lot of people were prepared to continue shocking to the point where it appeared they’d killed the other person.
– What Milgram concluded that this revealed about obedience is that it’s not unnatural that practically anybody can be induced to obey authority and to do things which you might regard as inhumane, cruel, sadistic, and yet with not any sadistic intent but simply in order to abide by the instructions given to them by a legitimate authority.
And the conclusions seems to be, or at least the conclusion that many people took from this research is that people’s inclination to unconditional obedience is very high
– Milgram’s research threw new light on the Holocaust and the question of how ordinary German citizens could have been turned into mass murderers in such a short time.
It seemed that the phrase”only obeying orders” had rather more to it than most people believed at the time.
– To many of them, they were obeying orders.
The orders were clear
So if you wish to believe you were obeying orders, you can
And it was a very rigid hierarchy. And people who showed sympathy were exterminated too.
– To some, Milgram’s experiments were amongst the most important ever done in psychology. But others were very critical, arguing this research should never have been done,because it was completely unethical.