Milgram Writing Assignment

Milgram Writing Assignment - Page 1 of 12 Throughout...

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Page 1 of 12 Throughout history soldiers have followed orders—even when the orders have been to slaughter innocent civilians. Examples include the Turkish slaughter of Armenians, the Nazi slaughter of Jews, the Serbian slaughters of Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims, and the mutual slaughter of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda. We may say that we are horrified by these crimes and cannot imagine why people would engage in them. But how many of us would refuse to follow orders issued by authority figures? The study of obedience is an important topic in the psychology of social influence. Social influence is the area of social psychology that studies the ways in which people alter the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of other people. There are circumstances under which obedience is useful and helpful, as in obeying sirens so that ambulances may pass your car in an emergency, or as in children obeying the reasonable demands of their parents. But human experience and psychological research suggests that there is a dark side to obedience—the tendency of many, perhaps most, people to obey authority figures, even when the authority figures make immoral demands. Stanley Milgram’s classic research into obedience was in large part inspired by the World War II crimes of the Nazis and those who obeyed them. As you will see in the opening paragraph of his article, his experiment was part of a body of research that was conducted to try to answer the question, Who were the people who assisted in the construction and operation of the Nazi gas chambers that accounted for the deaths of millions of innocents? Who were these people who placed obedience ahead of life and humanity? Is their psychology different from yours or mine? Is their psychology foreign to you and me? Or could these people be you and me? Behavioral Study of Obedience By STANLEY MILGRAM YALE UNIVERSITY This article describes a procedure for the study of destructive obedience in the laboratory. It consists of ordering a naive S to administer increasingly more severe punishment to a victim in the context of a learning experiment. Punishment is administered by means of a shock generator with 30 graded switches ranging from Slight Shock to Danger: Severe Shock. The victim is a confederate of the E. The primary dependent variable is the maximum shock the S is willing to administer before he refuses to continue further. 26Ss obeyed the experimental commands fully, and administered the highest shock on the generator. 14Ss broke off the experiment at some point after the victim protested and refused to provide further answers. The procedure created extreme levels of nervous tension in some Ss. Profuse sweating, trembling, and stuttering were typical expressions of this emotional disturbance. One unexpected sign of tension–yet to be explained– was the regular occurrence of nervous laughter, which in some Ss developed into uncontrollable seizures. The variety of interesting behavioral dynamics observed in the experiment, the reality of
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course PSY 2012 taught by Professor Jenkins during the Fall '07 term at Seminole CC.

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Milgram Writing Assignment - Page 1 of 12 Throughout...

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