Stanley Milgram

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Stanley Milgram conducted an examination, in the 60’s, based on the justification for the acts of genocide offered by those who were accused in the Nuremberg War Criminal Trials of WWII. Their defense, as they claimed was solely based on “obedience” and that they were in fact only following their superior’s orders. This eventually led to the study on the conflict between obedience toward authority and one’s personal conscious. His experiment was a model of simplicity. The idea was to take an ‘experimenter’ (E) who would issue commands to the ‘teacher’ (T), who then would instruct a learner [or in this case a ‘victim’ (V)] to perform memory tasks. Stanley Milgram’s study of obedience is still controversial today and has raised many ethical concerns. One such concern is that of Psychologist Diana Baumrind, who argues that Milgram’s study did not meet ethical standards for research, because participants were subjected to a research design that caused unwanted psychological stress that was not revolved after the study was completed. Baumrind goes further by raising several main points why Milgram’s study was unethical such as: Milgram’s indifference toward the participants and their distress, a study of obedience should not be conducted in laboratory because participants are more prone to have obedience and to put their trust in the researcher, the psychological distress of the participants went beyond appropriate limits, participants experienced long-term psychological consequences, and finally Milgram intentionally planned the study to cause extreme psychological distress of the individuals in the experiment. In response to Baumrind’s accusations, Milgram makes his counterpoints. One, the extreme tension induced in some individuals was unexpected. For example, Milgram explains that before conducting the experiment, procedures were discussed with many colleagues and none anticipated the reactions that later took place. He goes on to state that foreknowledge can...
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