milgram - Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1963,...

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Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1963, Vol. 67, No. 4, 371-378 BEHAVIORAL STUDY OF OBEDIENCE 1 STANLEY MILGRAM 2 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. 26 Ss obeyed the experimental commands fully, and administered the highest shock on the generator. 14 Ss 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 un- expected 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 the situation for the S, and the possibility of parametric varia- tion within the framework of the procedure, point to the fruitfulness of further study. Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others. Obedience, as a determinant of behavior, is of particular relevance to our time. It has been reliably established that from 1933-45 millions of innocent persons were systematically slaugh- tered on command. Gas chambers were built, death camps were guarded, daily quotas of corpses were produced with the same ef- ficiency as the manufacture of appliances. These inhumane policies may have originated in the mind of a single person, but they could only be carried out on a massive scale if a very large number of persons obeyed orders. Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political pur- pose. It is the dispositional cement that binds men to systems of authority. Facts of recent history and observation in daily life suggest 1 This research was supported by a grant (NSF G-17916) from the National Science Foundation. Exploratory studies conducted in 1960 were sup- ported by a grant from the Higgins Fund at Yale University. The research assistance of Alan C. Elms and Jon Wayland is gratefully acknowledged.
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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.

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milgram - Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1963,...

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