Tag Archives: Milgram

Milgram Replication in American Psychologist

Milgram obedience experimentThe long-awaited publication of the replication of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiment, conducted by Santa Clara University (CA) psychologist Jerry Burger, has finally hit the pages of the American Psychological Association’s flagship journal, American Psychologist (unfortunately, only the abstract is freely available on-line).

In the experiment, participants were told they are in a learning experiment in which they will ask questions of another participant (who is really a confederate), and deliver shocks of increasing strength for every incorrect answer received. The shocks were fake and the experiment was really about the willingness of people to obey the orders of an authority figure such as a scientist, even when asked to do what appeared to be extreme harm to another person . Continue reading Milgram Replication in American Psychologist

Systematic Disobedience in Milgram’s Studies

Dominic PackerA meta-analysis by Dominic J. Packer, recently published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(4), offers to shed new light on how we interpret the influential series of studies conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale in July 1961.

A meta-analysis of data from eight of Milgram’s obedience experiments reveals previously undocumented systematicity in the behavior of disobedient participants. In all studies, disobedience was most likely at 150 v, the point at which the shocked “learner” first requested to be released. Further illustrating the importance of the 150-v point, obedience rates across studies covaried with rates of disobedience at 150 v, but not at any other point; as obedience decreased, disobedience at 150 v increased. In contrast, disobedience was not associated with the learner’s escalating expressions of pain. This analysis identifies a critical decision point in the obedience paradigm and suggests that disobedient participants perceived the learner’s right to terminate the experiment as overriding the experimenter’s orders, a finding with potential implications for the treatment of prisoners.

Yet this analysis does more than offer a new interpretation of a famous data set.  It also highlights one of the many benefits, for contemporary researchers, of studying history: finding results that are both significant and meaningful, both statistically and from the perspective of the discipline as a whole. Continue reading Systematic Disobedience in Milgram’s Studies

More on Milgram in NYT

Milgram's Although nearly half a century old, it seems that there are still many things to say about Stanley Milgram’s famous series of experiments on obedience. Recently there was a new report in New York Times on the research program, in which many otherwise normal subjects were persuaded by white-coated experimenter to deliver (apparent) electrical shocks to another (apparent) subject, sometimes up to the point of (apparently) killing him.

The July 1 NYT article, by Benedict Carey, includes a description of a forthcoming publication in American Psychologist of Jerry Burger’s replication of the Milgram study. Continue reading More on Milgram in NYT

A Milgram Resister Speaks

AHP has already done a number of items on the famous obedience experiments of Stanley Milgram and their aftermath. Now we have come across a description from the perspective of one of Milgram’s subjects who refused to continue to the end. The January 2004 issue of Jewish Currents contained an article by Joseph Dimow entitled “A Personal Account of the Milgram Obedience Experiments.” Dimow credited his refusal, in part, to his having been raised in a socialist household where resisting authority was a common theme. Continue reading A Milgram Resister Speaks

Full ABC Milgram Replication Online

Jerry BurgerStanley Milgram’s obedience studies of the early 1960s have been something of a staple on this blog (e.g., here, here, and here), in no small part because there has been a lot of news about them of late. I have frequently mentioned that last year the ABC show Primetime did a modified replication of Milgram’s first and most famous obedience study, in which about 2/3 of seemingly normal Americans were willing to shock an apparent fellow participant to the point of death on the orders of a scientist. Continue reading Full ABC Milgram Replication Online

Milgram Biography Reviewed in Isis

In the Dec 2007 issue of Isis, Ian Nicholson (St. Thomas U.) reviewed Thomas Blass’ (U. Maryland, Baltimore County) biography of one of the most prominent social psychologists of the 20th century — The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram (Basic, 2004). Milgram is, of course, best known for his obedience research in the early 1960s, in which two-thirds of subjects, led to believe they were part of a simple learning study, were willing to deliver electric shocks to another participant up to the point of his apparent death. Continue reading Milgram Biography Reviewed in Isis

Is Evil Not So Banal After All?

The Psychologist, the flagship journal of the British Psychological Society, has published an article by S. Alexander Haslam and Stephen D. Reicher that challenges what the authors call the “clear consensus amongst social psychologists, historians and philosophers that everyone succumbs to the power of the group and hence no one can resist evil once in its midst.”

Relying on a number of recent and soon-to-be-published studies, and re-analyses of old studies, they reject Hannah Arendt’s famous conclusion that Adolf Eichman and others like him are not immoral “monsters” who can be easily distinguished from the “normal” people but, rather, are entirely ordinary individuals caught up social currents beyond their ability to control or disengage themselves from. Arendt’s conclusion was instrumental in the famous experiments of Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo, [SEE CORRECTION BELOW] Continue reading Is Evil Not So Banal After All?

Milgram Study Comes to Life (Again)

Stanley MilgramAs almost everyone knows, back in the early 1960s, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a study in which subjects were persuaded to deliver what appeared to be increasingly severe electric shocks to a confederate (who they thought to be simply another subject), often up to the point apparently killing the other person. There have long been questions about whether the study could be replicated, until it was done in an episode of ABC Primetime earlier this year.

Another widespread criticism has been that the high susceptibility that Milgram found of people to follow authority figures would not generalize well outside of the laboratory. The Boston Globe is now reporting a story that might put this question to rest as well. This past August a Massachusetts institution that specializes in the treatment of people with autism, mental retardation, and emotional problems, the Judge Rotenberg center, was tricked into delivering dozens of electric shocks to two of its special education students when staff were ordered to do so over the telephone by a former student posing as a school supervisor. Continue reading Milgram Study Comes to Life (Again)