Tag Archives: obedience

Experimenter: The Milgram Movie

Adding to the recent trend in popular uptake of classic mid-century controversies in psychology (see for example the acclaimed television series Masters of Sex, which fictionalizes the groundbreaking sex research conducted by Masters and Johnson), October sees the release of Sundance Festival feature Experimenter (find our earlier coverage of the festival here), a film written and directed by Michael Almereyda about Stanley Milgram’s still infamous studies on obedience to authority.

Starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder, the film dramatizes the ethical quandaries for which Milgram’s work became a poster child and contributed to the development of increased ethics regulation in psychological research. It also provides a characterization of Milgram himself, and contextualizes the infamy of his studies in light of his personal and professional lives.

The reception of Milgram’s work by public press has always promoted its more scandalous aspects (as we say in the field, it’s a ‘sexy’ topic for journalists), and as such this feature length is only the latest in a long line of media representation that Milgram has attracted since he published his conclusions. See our other blog coverage of these, starting with Shatner’s 1975 fictionalization; multiple renditions from the Travel, and Discovery channels, BBC, and ABC, often including attempts at actual replication of the experimental conditions; as well as a French mockumentary commenting on reality TV.


BBC Replicates Milgram

Stanley MilgramThe BBC presented a(nother) successful replication of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiment back in May, 2009. It is written up (with video excerpts) in The Situationist. Not surprisingly, 9 of the 12 participants gave electric shocks all the way to the highest level. This follows a successful replication conducted by psychologist Jerry Berger (UC Santa Clara) that was presented on ABC last year (see AHP’s post about the American Psychologist writeup here).

Milgram Obedience Study Song

Daniel WegnerHarvard psychologist Dan Wegner has posted a song online that incorporates sampled snippets of the recordings of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiments of the early 1960s. Very cool electrogroove… punctuated by screams that put the famous Wilhelm scream to shame.

Perhaps something to play before your next leture on Milgram?

(Thanks to Franklin Sayre for putting me on to this item.)

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