Milgram’s Study on Obedience

Description of the Study

In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments on obedience at Yale University. The study aimed to investigate how far people were willing to go in obeying an authority figure, even when it conflicted with their moral values. Participants were told to administer electric shocks to a “learner” (an actor) whenever they made a mistake during a memory test. The shocks increased in intensity with each mistake, and the “learner” would cry out in pain and eventually stop responding altogether.

Results and Findings

Milgram found that a shocking 65% of participants were willing to administer the highest level of electric shocks (450 volts) to the “learner,” despite their cries of pain and pleas for mercy. This was a disturbing revelation, as it demonstrated the power of authority figures to influence people’s behavior and override their moral compass. Milgram also found that participants experienced high levels of stress and anxiety during the experiment, indicating that their actions were not taken lightly.

Impact on Social Psychology

Milgram’s study had a profound impact on the field of social psychology, as it challenged the prevailing belief that people would only obey immoral orders if they were “bad” or “evil.” Instead, Milgram showed that even ordinary people could be capable of committing horrific acts under the right circumstances. This finding has important implications for our understanding of human behavior and the role of authority in shaping it.

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