Reflection on Milgram Experiment

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The first two lectures of MGMT2120 were just like a series of shocks that have totally renewed my concept about authority and its effect on human. People are taught to respect authority since we are young. We know we have to obey our parents in family, obey our teachers in schools and obey the law in the society. This ethic constitutes a stable and systemic society and that is why I believe authority is a necessary element for the prosperity of a society. However, I have never expected that authority has such thorough effect on human that it even overwhelms people’s fundamental moral standards until I watched the Milgram experiment during the first lecture.

The result of the experiment was very shocking to me – over half of the subjects would keep shocking the ‘learners’ until the end just because the experimenters required them to do so, even though the learners cried desperately for help. I think this experiment has fully revealed the destructive side of authority, which can turn a mature and conscientious adult into a tool for punishment or even killing. The experiment reminds me of the painful history of Chinese during the invasion by Japan. It has been difficult for me to understand why Japanese soldiers could be so cold-blooded at that time – they performed many cruel tortures, raped women, compete for killing as many Chinese as they could… For me, an ordinary human cannot be so heartless to their same kind. Now, I believe that their outrages could have been a result of the extreme authority of militarism. At that time, all Japanese were edified to obey their senior in an absolute manner since they were young. Their moral imperative disappeared under the pressure of militarism. Their cruelty becomes understandable to me now but, it is still unforgivable.

The results of replications of the Milgram experiment have provoked me to rethink about the sources of authority. Originally, I think that authority mainly comes from law and people’s belief in...
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