Obedience To Authority

Stanley Milgram study

from http://www.psychologytoday.com/pt62milgram.html ...

He found that an average, presumably normal group of New Haven, Connecticut, residents would readily inflict very painful and perhaps even harmful electric shocks on innocent victims. The subjects believed they were part of an experiment supposedly dealing with the relationship between punishment and learning. An experimenter - who used no Coercive powers beyond a stern aura of mechanical and vacant-eyed efficiency - instructed participants to shock a learner by pressing a lever on a machine each time the learner made a mistake on a word-matching task. Each subsequent error led to an increase in the intensity of the shock in 15-volt increments, from 15 to 450 volts.

In actuality, the shock box was a well-crafted prop and the learner an actor who did not actually get shocked. The result: A majority of the subjects continued to obey to the end - believing they were delivering 450 volt shocks - simply because the experimenter commanded them to. Although subjects were told about the deception afterward, the experience was a very real and powerful one for them during the laboratory hour itself.

Also interesting is the Stanford Prison Experiment

I believe these experiments reveal only the most extreme forms of this behavior, but that it exists in more subtle forms in virtually facet of life.


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