Milgram's Experiments

Powerful Essays
English 1A
20 June 2012
Sphere of Authority Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychologist, stunned the world when he stated that “perhaps the most fundamental lesson of our study is that ordinary people doing their jobs, and without particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.” Milgram’s stunning conclusions, which were derived from his experiments, proved that obedience is one of the basic elements in the structure of social life. The proximately of the victim, responsibility for the actions, and perceived legitimate authority figures will greatly determine how far an individual will go to fully comply. Obedience, which is one of many social influences in our life’s, results in a change in behavior when a direct command is given by a high authority. The main focus in Milgram’s experiment was to specify what people would do when told to do something through social pressures (the norms of the majority). Being obedient involves a hierarchy of power and status to fully take place and there are plenty of examples of human authority we encounter in daily life. Such as parents over children, husbands over wives, teachers over students, bosses over employees, policemen and judges over ordinary citizens, etc. (Franzoi)There is also spiritual authority God gives to some over people under their care. In the bible, Romans chapter 13: versus 1-5 teaches us that authority has been established by God, and that therefore those under him should submit to authority. It was set up to ensure that those under authority of God will do what is good and right and those who resist authority will bear the consequences from God. (Van der Toorn 130) The Milgram study showed that participants would comply with the unethical orders of an apparent authority figure that was physically present in the room. The physical presence and the proximately of an authority figure dramatically increased compliance. When the subjects in the experiment were distant,



Cited: Alic, Margaret. Milgram, Stanley (1933-1984) Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. 2nd Ed. Gale Group, 2001. WEB. (http://www.findarticles.com). Behrens, Laurence, and Leonard Rosen. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 11. Longman, 2011. Print. Cesarani, David Eichmann. His Life and Crimes. William Heinemann, 2004 (245-250). Franzoi, Stephen L. Social Psychology. 2nd ed. Boston: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2000. WEB. (http://www.factfinds.com/articles) Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1974. Van der Toorn, J., Tyler, T. R., & Jost, J. T. (2011). More than fair: Outcome dependence, system justification, and the perceived legitimacy of authority figures. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 127–138.

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