Why Is Milgram's Research Important?

950 Words4 Pages
While arguably one of the defining psychological studies of the 20th Century, the research was not without flaws. Almost immediately the study became a subject for debate amongst psychologists who argued that the research was both ethically flawed and its lack of diversity meant it could not be generalized.
Ethically, a significant critique of the experiment is that the participants actually believed they were administering serious harm to a real person, completely unaware that the learner was in fact acting. Although Milgram argued that the illusion was a necessary part of the experiment to study the participants’ reaction, they were exposed to a highly stressful situation. Many were visibly distraught throughout the duration of the test
…show more content…
(Russell 2014)
Despite controversy Milgram’s experiment was ground breaking. It remains relevant today and is frequently cited in demonstrating the perils of obedience.
Milgram himself concluded how easily ordinary people ‘can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority". (Milgram 1974)
As this report has highlighted the research is not without controversy with many questioning to what extent Milgram’s experiment is true to real life and has been criticized for not highlighting further situational variables in determining obedience to authority.
Regardless of this, there is no doubt Milgram highlighted a rather troubling phenomenon. As Romm (2018) noted, his research despite its flaws, remains a key topic of research and debate not because it clearly answers why humans are capable of terrible atrocities, instead raising more questions than it
Open Document