PackerMilgramresearch - July 1, 2008 Mind Decades Later,...

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July 1, 2008 Mind Decades Later, Still Asking: Would I Pull That Switch? By BENEDICT CAREY Some of psychology ’s most famous experiments are those that expose the skull beneath the skin, the apparent cowardice or depravity pooling in almost every heart. The findings force a question. Would I really do that? Could I betray my own eyes, my judgment, even my humanity, just to complete some experiment? The answer, if it’s an honest one, often gives rise to observations about the cruelties of the day, whether suicide bombing, torture or gang atrocities. And so a psych experiment — a mock exercise, testing individual behavior — can become something else, a changing prism through which people view the larger culture, for better and for worse. Consider the psychologist Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies of the early 1960s that together form one of the darkest mirrors the field has held up to the human face. In a series of about 20 experiments, hundreds of decent, well-intentioned people agreed to deliver what appeared to be increasingly painful electric shocks to another person, as part of what they thought was a learning experiment. The “learner” was in fact an actor, usually seated out of sight in an adjacent room, pretending to be zapped. Researchers, social commentators and armchair psychologists have pored through Milgram’s data ever since, claiming psychological and cultural insights. Now, decades after the original
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2009 for the course EAS 120Y1 taught by Professor Ajimoro during the Spring '09 term at University of Toronto- Toronto.

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PackerMilgramresearch - July 1, 2008 Mind Decades Later,...

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