Critique of Stanley Milgram’s “Behavioral Study of Obedience”

Good Essays
A Critique of Stanley Milgram’s “Behavioral Study of Obedience”

Stanley MIlgram is a Yale University social psychologist who wrote “Behavioral Study of Obedience”, an article which granted him many awards and is now considered a landmark. In this piece, he evaluates the extent to which a participant is willing to conform to an authority figure who commands him to execute acts that conflict with his moral beliefs. Milgram discovers that the majority of participants do obey to authority. In this research, the subjects are misled because they are part of a learning experience that is not about what they are told. This experiment was appropriate despite this. Throughout the process, subjects are exposed to various signs that show them the intensity of their act (effects on the victim and intensity of the shocks), and are told that they are allowed to leave whenever. Moreover, if the subjects were not misled and were told the truth, this experiment would not have taken place. Milgram solicits 40 males from various ages and professions. These subjects are explained that they are part of an experiment that studies the influence of punishment on learning. However, the true purpose is to check their willingness to obey to an authority figure by inflicting pain that they think is real when it is not to a victim. The experimenter, Milgram’s accomplice, acts as a figure of authority, giving orders to the subjects. The victim, also a collaborator, experiences the pain given by the subject. The pain is given by a shock generator, which is comprised with 30 switches, with a voltage that ranges from 15 to 450 volts. Subjects enter the laboratory one by one. All go through the experiment: 14 of them do not complete the full experiment, while 26 do. The majority of the subjects obey to authority, aware that they are physically hurting the victim. Also there is an unexpected amount of stressful reactions. Following his experiment, Milgram claims that the



Cited: Stanley Milgram. “Behavioural Study of Obedience.” Across the Disciplines: Academic Writing and Reading. Rogers, Jacqueline McLeod and Catherine G. Taylor. Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2011. 269-81. Print.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Better Essays

    Stanley Milgram’s (1963) Obedience study is widely known in the field of psychology. This study is particularly distinct because the findings of the study were surprising to public and ethical procedure of the study was controversial. Stanley Milgram (1963) conducted this particular experimented to examine the how far individuals obey an authority. His goal was to find an explanation of Natzi killings in World War II. He recruited male participants through newspaper advertising. The participants…

    • 1140 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    IB Psychology (HL) Krissy Gear Milgram’s Experiment on Obedience P. 3 July 1961, Yale University Psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to test peoples’ obedience to authority figures. He wanted to see how many people would comply or resist commands by (an idea of) an authority figure. Milgram’s experiment began with two men about twenty to fifty years in age. The participants volunteered through an advertisement and a promise of $4.50 for their…

    • 724 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist whose research has been justified because of the knowledge psychologists have gained about why people obey. One of his most famous studies was conducted in 1963 on obedience. Obedience is compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority. Milgram wanted to investigate why the German soldiers were very obedient to their authority figures and superiors and if that is an explanation for their mass killings in World War…

    • 893 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    psychologist named Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment that concentrated in understanding “destructive obedience”. Milgram’s interest in researching “destructive obedience” came from the Holocaust. “Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purpose”. Milgram’s experiment proposed that the murder of innocent people occurred because of the obedience from the soldiers to their leader. The experiment focuses on analyzing on why the degree of obedience from each subject…

    • 838 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    me out!” (Milgram, 1965) You would hope that any decent human being would sympathise and realise that enough is enough. But Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment found that an astonishing 26 out of 40 (Milgram, 1963) of your average, everyday American men would shock an innocent human being to the point of death even after hearing these pleads. In 1963, psychologist Stanley Milgram wanted to investigate why millions of innocent people were slaughtered during World War II. The ideas of the massacres…

    • 1085 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    prospered, giving way to a more in depth knowledge and understanding of people’s social interactions with one another and what drives those connections. 20th century psychologist, Stanley Milgram, executed a series of Obedience to Authority test on random participants. As seen in the YouTube videos online and in class, Milgram’s study found that over 65% of the participants carried out the experiment, despite potentially hurting someone, due to the authority figure urging them to continue. This poses the…

    • 529 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Obedience is omnipresent; it is difficult to differentiate between obedience and conformity, therefore it is a complicated subject of social psychology. However, Stanley Milgram was devoted to understand the phenomena of obedience, and created a dramatic masterpiece. Interested in many different aspects of life, Stanley Milgram was an influential key figure in psychology. However his work on the field of obedience is respected and still exiting for both psychologists and lay people. The aim of this…

    • 1363 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    destructive obedience is not a consequence of moral weakness or an evil character; rather it is a response to a particular set of situational factors. Evaluate this statement. In order to evaluate this statement it is important to first understand what Milgram meant. This essay will first consider what is meant by destructive obedience and briefly look at Milgram’s work. It will then look at what is inferred by situational factors, focusing on conformity, socialisation, obedience to authority…

    • 2421 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    In society, authority and its rules are respected by people in the community through acts of obedience. Authority is not only the government laws, but can also be people with a higher status, such as parents, teachers, or employment managers. As long as people obey those with authoritative power, they will receive rewards, or at least avoid punishment, even when the command requires unjust actions towards another person. For example, Hitler’s propaganda that made the Germans believe that the Jews…

    • 816 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In "The Perils of Obedience," Stanley Milgram conducted a study that tests the conflict between obeying immoral commands given by authority and refusing authority. The experiment was to see how much pain a normal person would inflict on another person because he/she were being ordered to do so by a scientist. The participants of this experiment included two willing individuals: a teacher and a learner. The teacher was the real subject and the learner was an actor. In almost all case the teacher would…

    • 585 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays