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Stanley Milgram's Experiments On Obedience

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In 1961, Stanley Milgram (1963) carried out one of the most famous experiments in social psychology. He wanted to examine the conflict between a person’s obedience to authority and their personal conscience. This experiment was conducted one year after the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Eichmann, along with most of those accused at the Nuremberg War Criminal trials, often based their defense on ”obedience”. The justification for their atrocious actions was that they were simply following orders from their superiors. Milgram wanted to find an answer to the question ”Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them accomplices?” (Milgram, 1974) Milgram’s experiment…show more content…
First off, all the participants were male so one could question if the results would transfer to females. Second, the participants were all volunteers- the sample was self-selected. The participants might also have a typical “volunteer-personality”- perhaps it took a certain personality type to respond to the newspaper advertisement and therefore the sample would not be representative for the American population. Ethical considerations Milgram (1963) used deception in his studies on obedience, which has been repeatedly criticised. The participants in the experiments actually believed they had administered painful electric shocks to another human being, and were visibly distressed throughout the experiment. Although they were not forced to stay and complete the experiment, they were consistently encouraged to keep going despite their obvious discomfort. Milgram (1974) was very careful to debrief all of the participants thoroughly, and followed up on them for some time after the experiment. Despite what many people view as a questionable ethical conduct, 83 % of the participants indicated that they were glad they had taken part in the
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