Milgram's Study of Obedience to Authority

Topics: Milgram experiment, Psychology, Stanford prison experiment Pages: 4 (1244 words) Published: February 21, 2006
Stanley Milgram is a famous psychologist who focused his studies on authority and peoples reaction and obedience to it. His famous experiment and it's results were groundbreaking in psychology, surprising both psychologists and regular people alike. First I will discuss the reason for Milgrims study of obedience to authority. Then I will explain the experiment, its formulation, and its results. Finally I will cover the influence of the experiment on psychology and society.

Stanley Milgrim was born in New York City in 1933, the son of European immigrants. He earned his bachelors degree in Political Sciences from Queens College, where he never even took a course in psychology. He then applied to Harvard for his Ph.D. but was not accepted because of his lack of background in psychology. After taking a few courses in psychology he was accepted to Harvartd where he earned his Ph.D. in 1960 (American National Biography).

Before going into Milgrim's studies one must first examine the time period in which he started his career. The world was in the wake of World War II and society was still shocked by the discovery of what was really going on in Europe during the war. The Nazi concentration camps were being discovered and the world found out about Hitler's plan to purify the "supreme race" of blonde haired and blue eyed Germans. What was most shocking about the holocaust though was that Hitler's plan was actually being executed.

How could one man get an entire country to go along with such an evil plan? Why did people listen to Hitler and blindly obey his orders? These were the questions that were on everyone's mind as they found out about the Holocaust. Everyone thought to themselves that they would never do the things the Nazis did if they were being told to by their government. No one wanted to believe that people were so submissive to authority that they would carry out orders they knew were wrong (Blass).

This intrigued Milgrim. If the...

Bibliography: Blass, Thomas. "The Man Who Shocked the World." Psychology Today. March/April 2002. pp. 1-6. Psychology Today Magazine. September 29, 2005.
O 'Connor, Anahad. "The Struggle for Iraq: Psychology; Pressure to Go Along With Abuse is Strong, but Some Soldiers Find Strength to Refuse." New York Times May 14, 2004, 3-4 pages.
Slater, Lauren. Opening Skinner 's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the 20th Century. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005.
"Stanley Milgrim." American National Biography. Vol. 15, 1999. pp. 455-457.
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