posts 1 - 15 of 27
Posts: 71

Viewing: If you were not in class when I showed the Milgram Obedience experiment footage, please do the following: go to

When you get to that URL, watch two sections

Time count 0:19 through 9:14

Then time count 21:59 through 39:16 [and if you want to look at the discussion of the experiment after it concluded, fast forward in this second section]

Now that you’ve seen a portion of the film of Stanley Milgram’s 1961 experiment at Yale, you know that ordinary people are capable of doing startling things out of obedience to someone or to some sort of idea. Often we would identify these folks at the start as bystanders—people who would not initiate such an activity but who are somehow brought into it. They then have a choice whether to remain a bystander, become a perpetrator, or to become a resister or rescuer.

In Milgram’s experiment, people volunteered to participate in an experiment by responding to an advertisement. That happens all the time. But why do so many of the participants go through with the experiment? Why do so few object?

As background to this experiment, you should look at the reading by Philip Meyer, “If Hitler asked you to Electrocute a Stranger, Would you? Probably?” taken from Esquire(February 1970).

Some of the findings that are also important to know about that emerged from Milgram’s experiment:

• 65% of the volunteers (‘teachers’) gave the full 450 volts.

• When Milgram varied the experiment, so that the setting was less academic, only 48% gave

the full 450 volts.

• When Milgram had the authority figure give instructions by telephone (instead of being in the room), only 21% gave the full 450 volts.

• When more than one authority figure was in the room and the two argued over the experiment, no “teacher” continued to the end.

• When the “learner” was in the same room as the teacher, only 40% of the teachers “obeyed.”

• When the “teacher” had to put the “learner’s” hand on the metal plate to give the shock, only 30% obeyed the experiment.

Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist at Stanford who later conducted a related experiment simulating prison conditions, wrote:

The question to ask of Milgram’s research is not why the majority of normal, average subjects behave in evil (felonious) ways, but what did the disobeying minority do after they refused to continue to shock the poor soul, who was so obviously in pain? Did they intervene, go to his aid, did they renounce the researcher, protest to higher authorities, etc.? (Philip Zimbardo, “The Pathology of Imprisonment,” Societies (April 1972)

And you should factor in what Milgram himself noted:

It is psychologically easy to ignore responsibility when one is only an intermediate link in a chain of evil action but is far from the final consequences of the action. … No one man decides to carry out the evil act and is confronted with his consequences. The person who assumes full responsibility for the act has evaporated. Perhaps this is the most common characteristic of socially organized evil in modern society.(Stanley Milgram, Obedience to AuthorityNew York, 1974)

So what do you conclude from this experiment? Does it give you any insight into human behavior? What will humans be willing to do, why they’ll do it, what they are capable of doing and not doing? Putting aside Hitler for the moment, what kinds of behavior does this experiment help to explain, not only in history but in our own times?

When you post, please be sure to reference other students’ posts in yours AND be sure at the end to pose a question for the next student to ask. (And be sure to reply also to the question that precedes your post!)

The River
Posts: 25

This experiment truly solidified my understanding of the mindset of perpetrators during the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide. It proved that people will do anything if they trust the authority figure telling them to do so. Throughout the experiment, the man in the lab coat spoke to the “teacher” with a calm tone and gave the directions very clearly, making him appear to know what he was doing. This created a level of trust between the participants and scientist. This can be connected to the Rwandan genocide, as the Hutu killers followed what their leaders directed them to do, never giving in to their second thoughts. It also demonstrated to me how people are far more likely to inflict pain on others if they do not see the person in pain. Just like the people pouring the Zyklon B into the gas chambers, the “teacher” gave the “learner” shocks without ever seeing this person likely writhing in pain. As a result, the perpetrator feels less connected with what they are doing and does not fully comprehend the pain they are inflicting on the victims.

This behavior helps demonstrate that it only takes a small number of radical people to impose their agenda. The experiment showed me that if a leader is able to appear trustworthy, they can gain followers and support no matter how crazy their ideas are. This explains the support for the Hutu killing leaders, Hitler, and perhaps even Donald Trump. All of these people acted/act secure in their actions which made/make them appear more trustworthy to certain people. Frankly, I think this revelation is scary because we would all like to think that people would have higher moral standards than this. The behavior also demonstrated how concerned people can be about responsibility. I can imagine that if someone kills or severely harms another person (especially by accident), they will carry that burden for the rest of their life. The “teacher” in the video checked several times to make sure that he would not be held responsible if the “learner” had truly died so that he would not have to carry this burden. This is also scary because it shows how willing people can be to stay bystanders rather than stepping up to help victims. Overall, the experimented illustrated to me that people are far more easily convinced than I had previously thought.

Question: We have discussed in class how people can cope with inflicting pain on others more easily when they disconnect themselves from the situation. Is there a certain point when this is no longer possible? Do people reach a breaking point when they can no longer disconnect themselves from the situation? If not, why?

lavender paint
Posts: 22

I think human beings never want anything to be their fault. This sounds so simplistic, yet it takes tremendous intellectual strength and ability to hold yourself fully accountable. There is a reason that people will come up with any excuse to say that they did not know about something, or that they were under the influence of others. We would all like to believe that we are good people and doing the right thing. So when our virtue is put on the line, we want to assert that it was not us who made a decision, or desired to do something wrong. We try to force ourselves to forget that we are part of the moving parts that caused something horrific to happen or caused a mistake to be made. The more we compartmentalize, the more we lay the blame on other things and other factors, the more we can convince ourselves that we remain good people. That we still deserve our place in the world.

From Milgram’s experiment, I’ve concluded that human emotions and motivations are much more simple and primal than we would like them to be. We are extremely influenced by authority and fear. As much as we may like to deny it, our base instinct is survival. When we feel that our lives are in balance, we become more ruthless. Our complex, cognitive thoughts become blurred. The thought of being able to save ourselves is more dominant than anything else in the situation.

65% of the “teachers” gave the full 450 volts. They did so not necessarily because they feared for their own life, but because they thought they had no other choice. With a dominant authority figure in front of them, they saw carrying this out as their duty, and saw their own position in balance if they didn’t. From there it was easy to become detached.

Humans are most influenced when there is a presence right before us. That’s why only 21% gave the full 450 volts when the instructions were provided by telephone; as well as why the “teacher” in the experiment we watched gave the full volts when the authority figure was in the room. However, obeying to the authority figure wasn’t the most noteworthy part, it was the cold, callous way in which the man began to give the volts. Or how he appeared almost tethered to the chair. Or how he felt much more comfortable with continuing when he was informed he would not be held responsible.

I find it noteworthy that the percentage drops way off when the “teacher” had to put the “learner’s” hand on the metal plate to give the shock. So much can be said for human touch. It facilitates more of a connection, and as a result would make the “teacher” feel more directly responsible. As selfish of reasoning as it is, this is probably why many of these “teachers” did not use the full voltage.

Even in the Rwandan genocide, where there was no way to avoid the touch and the immediacy of the killings, killers said they carried out their work because they had little other choice. Either they followed through, or someone else would for them. Some would negotiate with others so that they would not have to kill an acquaintance or friend, and therefore would not feel responsible-- completely overlooking that they would be an enabler. Others claimed they did the killing because they knew they would be punished if they did not. Is this acceptable? Not in the slightest. But with Milgram’s experiment, it does make more sense.

We should also not overlook how key a mob mentality is. If everyone is doing something, then that also makes people feel as though they have no choice but to do it too. It is easy to get caught up in the hysteria of something. For instance, one of the Rwandan killers recounted how after killing a group of Tutsis, he and some other Hutu mocked how the Tutsis had prayed, laughing about it. But years later, he claimed these prayers haunted him more than anything. There is something to be said about being with others in the heat of the moment.

The River mentioned that there is a level of established trust in these situations, and cited Trump, Hitler, and even Hutu leaders. I agree with this concept. These leaders exude an intangible thing, something that says, “if you follow me, great things will happen, and you will come out on top.” I also think the idea of mob mentality ties in well with this point. When a leader promises a subsection of society great power, and many in that subsection begin to follow them, those who wouldn’t necessarily support the leader otherwise soon find themselves joining their ranks.

I do wish there were some way to know the actions of those who resisted and did not go to the full voltage. If they just left, it fits in with the selfish nature of humans, but if they actually checked in on the “learner”, that says so much more.

The most disturbing thing I have gained from this is that humans find it incredibly easy to detach themselves from killing. There may be an initial shock when something first happens, but after continuing to do something systematically--whether it is increasingly the voltage, leading others to a gas chamber, or even slaughtering another with a machete--it is easy to be numb to it, and carry it out as though it were nothing. I have no idea what that says about human nature, and it scares me.

Stanley Milgram pointed out that “It is psychologically easy to ignore responsibility when one is only an intermediate link in a chain of evil action but is far from the actual consequences of the action.” And it made me think. After the experiment, these people went home. The teachers who heard the learners go silent then continued to shock them, even repeatedly at the full 450 volts-- they went home after this experiment. That is what I can’t wrap my mind around, how one could move on with their lives, just keep going after realizing that you could have, in essence, taken a human life. Were they haunted by it? Did they go and sit in their car and simply drive away afterwards? Did they lie awake in their beds at night? Then again, what else can they do?

The question I pose to other students comes from these wonderings: do you think the teachers who gave the full 450 volts find themselves altered by or traumatized by this experiment? Do you think they realized something about themselves, or did they just continue on with life?

To reply to The River’s question, I don’t think there is a breaking point. If someone is going to reach their breaking point, it would most likely happen the first time they are made to kill someone. But if they do it so repeatedly and with so little consideration, I think they lose the breaking point. I think they lose a part of themselves that we would constitute fully “human.” But the ironic thing is, they still very much are human. We just don’t like to think about the ugly parts of human nature.

Posts: 17

For our entire lives, we all respond to someone of authority. First, it is our parents, then at school, our teachers, then, our bosses at work. I think it is this sense that we have to listen to authority, implanted into our brains from the first time we throw a tantrum, that makes us obey authority. Even at school, we are told to do homework, so we do it, because our teachers have the authority to give us work, because we are being graded on it. If we don’t do homework, if we don’t have our own free will, bad things happen, we get in trouble or we get a bad grade. This feeling that we have to obey someone of authority is just a part of society, and we obey because we have to. The only way I can think of how to change this, is if we fundamentally change the way society works, but who knows what kinds of problems that would create.

What I concluded from this experiment is that people will listen to authority, and in a battle with someone’s morals, authority often wins. We are taught for our entire lives that we should listen to authority, and I think it gets so ingrained into our brains that we obey authority without a second thought. Humans may be willing to do something deep down, and I think that ‘support’ from authority, telling them to do something, is enough to make them do it. If they don’t want to do something, they might me more hesitant, but in the end, they will probably still do that thing. If they are told to do something, and they have no clear reason for not doing it, I don’t think there is anything stopping humans from doing anything, and that’s scary.

I believe that this experiments explains the behavior that many people had in the times of several different genocides. It explains the lack of interest that people had during the Holocaust, both in Europe, and in the US, and the fact that ordinary men were killing their friends and neighbors during the Rwandan genocide. In current times, this explains the complacency we have with other things going on in the world, whether it be climate change, or bombings. We don’t just drop everything to go and help because we have school the next day, or we have to go to work. Authority nowadays blinds us to the real, horrible things that are going on, and like the experiment, we are tethered to our chairs, stuck in our daily lives, unable to go too far.

To answer lavender paint’s question, I don’t know if any of the teachers were traumatized or altered by this experiment, but if I had to guess, they probably weren’t. They probably continued on with their lives, going to work, and obeying the other authority figures in their lives. In the reading, it said that teachers who made it to 450 volts would keep going indefinitely. With that, I don’t think they would feel anything after, they would probably just become desensitized to it. I think that people who stopped earlier on would be more traumatized by the experiment, because they disobeyed authority on their own account.

Every one of the teachers, learners, and experimenters was a white male. What do you think would have changed in the results of the experiments if one or more of those roles were filled by a person of color and/or by a woman?

Posts: 32

I really believe the actions of people come down to authority.

We are taught from young ages to respect adults and people who seem to be in charge, and will continue to do things even if we do not believe they are the right thing to do. I see this a lot with parents. Many kids tend to believe verbatim the same things their parents do, even if they are fundamentally wrong. Once kids start to grow up, if they are smart enough to do their own research, their opinions change. The frustration for me comes with the people who are not willing to do their own research and continue to blindly follow what they were raised to think is ok.

Back to the experiment: the different iterations of the test matter a lot. The one we saw on the video is fascinating because there is that idea of detachment. The man pushing the levers never sees the one getting a “shock”, and therefore has no connection to him so it does not bother him as much that he has to keep delivering what could have killed a man. To connect this to today’s society, we live in a world where we all post hashtags and pictures on social media, saying pray for x,y, and z. We may even donate a bit of money, but we remain ignorant to the truth and do not take action that actually produces change. We will protest and try to say no, but as soon as a figure of authority shuts us up, we back off. It also has to do with that idea of responsibility- we want to protect ourselves and not be deemed responsible for horrible things. I think in Rwanda, that was never an issue because the Hutus assumed they were doing the right thing and that no one would be mad at them for killing so many people, so they would never be considered “responsible” for anything.

This experiment showed me that people cannot be trusted, because they will follow the word of the man in a lab coat over their own heart and gut. I really like what lavenderpaint said when they mentioned that “With a dominant authority figure in front of them, [the teachers] saw carrying this out as their duty, and saw their own position in balance if they didn’t. From there it was easy to become detached.” This hits home everything I was thinking throughout the screening of the clip. The illusion of authority cleared the way for detachment. Without an authoritative figure in the room, telling the subjects it was crucial to the success of the experiment that they continue, they would not have been as likely to continue. When they do not have to claim responsibility for the pain of others and are seemingly only doing so because “it is necessary”, they are willing to continue to cause harm because they seem to think the effects are not actually as bad as they are. This helps to explain why people tend to do hashtags and marches instead of actually making a change- they are told by authority that they cannot actually help.

Answering Stellman42’s question, I bet results were slightly different with women and POC, but probably would have similar trend lines. I would even argue women would be even less likely to defy a male scientist just because of how men typically are seen as more authoritative. I love your question, though, since it questions the actions of different groups. I would also wonder what would happen if the learner was not a white male. Would the teachers have been less lenient to a male of color? More lenient and willing to stop if the victim was female? I guess that can be one of my questions I ask but I also want to know other’s opinions on what would have happened had the subjects not been paid in advance? We know in this case they were, so for those who did get up and leave, it was no financial hit for them. Would fewer people have stopped had they not been paid already?

pink cat lover
Posts: 24

To Obey or not to obey; that is the question...

After watching the video, hearing some of the statistics, and reading other information, I have concluded that there are too many factors that can add to the teachers' decisions for us to simply assume one thing about human tendencies, or about these individuals. It is easy for the audience of such a video to come to quick and simple believes about such at topic. When we were watching the video, one of my first thoughts was perhaps people who participated in this study really needed the money. This thought was sort of strengthened when we learned what the participants were going to have to do; it was evident that the teacher in the video did not have any prior information about what was going on in the study. However, as he kept with it and kept on obeying what the Milgram was saying, this could be explained by a pure need. Essentially, we knew nothing about the teachers' background information. We knew nothing about their family lives or any other factors that may have driven them to participate and or complete this study. Given that 65% of the participants completed the whole 450 volts, though, it seems as though that is too large of a percentage to assume such a chance-induced hypothesis.

It is significant to note that the percentage went down 17% when performed in a "less academic" study. This absolutely demonstrates that the notability and prestige of Milgram had something to do with why the participants obeyed. It is a well known fact that the placebo effect is more likely to occur when a medicine or experiment is given by someone, even if it is not a doctor in a lab coat in order to appear more professional. I feel that there was a similar effect in this experiment given that less than half obeyed when the organization and professionalism of the study was altered. I think this hypothesis is further backed up given the stats that no one completed the study when there were two doctors who argued, showing the extreme disorganization, and that only 21% went through with it when the instructions were by phone and they could not actually see and talk to a professional in the room.

Thus, this leads us to question what the study reveals about human behavior. I think it shows that if there is a pressuring, strong force on one side of an argument trying to persuade the a subject to do something, the confidence, power, notability, and professionalism of that force or group really helps to lure the subject. Furthermore, a human may lose track of one's morals and ethics if it is at hand of a situation in which they are aided to believe in being absolutely essential. The doctor in this experiment repeatedly said that the teacher must continue at all costs. Was the teacher scared of what would happen if he simply left? I am sure the oppressors of the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust(just as examples) were not ALL against Tutsis and Jews, but scared to step out. It seems as though human beings tend to reside in the majority. This is commonly known, as often seen in the social settings of high school and what not in which a teenager is hesitant to branch out on one's own ideas if they straw from the norm.

I very much agree with The River when they said "The experiment showed me that if a leader is able to appear trustworthy, they can gain followers and support no matter how crazy their ideas are". This seems to resonate well with my idea of the professionalism of the doctors, with their lab coats and all.

Question: Are there too many factors to consider in why humans, especially in the Milgram experiment, submit easily to people in "power", or can we come to general conclusions about the tendencies of human beings given the examples?

Posts: 20

First of all I wanted to say that this experiment was incredibly disturbing to watch and I had to look away so many times even though I had previously known that it was all staged. Some things that stuck with me was the fact that at the beginning of the experiment the person who was going to be using the voltage box on the man being experimented on saw his hands being strapped down yet continued not to question the process or even to try to leave before starting the process. The head of the experiment, the authority figure was always wearing the lab coat, as if it subconsciously reinforced in the notion that he held complete power in the situation. The Milgram experiment tested the notion of pushing oneself to go against morals and the conscious mind, showing how far people would actually go from what they were comfortable with or understood to be right, with the presence of someone deemed having more power than them. Some things that I found interesting was how at the beginning of the experiment, the man conducting the use of the voltage box referred to the other man being experimented on by his name, yet as the study went on, he just started referring to him as the man, or him, as if he was detaching himself from the humanity of the situation. By not referring to him by name during the process of the experiment it might have made it easier for him to continue on, practically killing him. It doesn’t feel as real when you don’t refer to someone by their name, it takes away the sincerity and acknowledgment of a real human being with feelings and emotions and makes it easier to not take the time to understand their feelings or show any sort of sympathy towards them. This is a direct comparison to how the perpetrators would make others kill victims during the Holocaust and also during the Nazi regime. It was like the authority figures brainwashed others into basically doing whatever horrific acts that they told them to do. This goes back to taking the humanity out of the situations by seeing the victims as no more than their remains, for example, like after the genocide, but also during the genocide they would not see people more than the way in which they identified themselves, such as by being a Jew or a Tutsi. Stripping people of their names was a way in which the authority figures began to maintain and exert control over others, influencing others to do thing against their own morals simply because they wanted them to. I think that the reason that the “teacher” didn’t object to the experiment was because he did not want to be held accountable for any wrongdoings that he could have been blamed for in not proceeding with the experiment. As humans we always want to protect ourselves from being hurt or blamed for something, and we will go a long way in which we will avoid that. I think that this is when it depends on the stakes of the situation. The man in the lab coat, for example, may have seemed to make the stakes higher in this situation even if in reality he didn’t as nothing would have happened if the teacher walked away. I think this is why throughout the whole process the teacher kept referring to the man in the lab coat formally, such as by sir, even when he was in clear objection of what he was being forced to do. I think that the point at which people will stop doing something that they are morally against always depends on other circumstances of the situation such as the consequences, how many authority figures are near the person, and maybe even the setup of the environment in which the events are taken place. Also I think that it is important to note that this is what determines what humans are capable of doing or not doing. I don’t think that you can’t gauge this without knowing all of the details of the situation. It is kind of disturbing to think that humans never want to be held accountable for anything, even if that thing is as significant and disturbing as a murder. Refusal to accept the situation through emotional detachment is something that commonly occurs, like what we saw in this experiment. I agree with pink cat lover in saying that “the confidence, power, notability, and professionalism of that force or group really helps to lure the subject.” As insignificant as this sounds, I think that this is why the lab coat played such a crucial role in this experiment. To answer the question-- are there too many factors to consider in why humans, especially in the Milgram experiment, submit easily to people in "power", or can we come to general conclusions about the tendencies of human beings given the examples-- I think that although we cannot generalize and speak for everyone about how people easily submit to power, there is enough evidence regarding the fact that if there is an authority figure present as well as high stakes, the more likely we will do something that is against our morals. I do think that there are many other factors though like for example-- confidence. The more confident someone may be, the less likely they may submit easily to power.

My question is-- Do you also think that how sure of themselves someone is reflects how easily they will submit to power? Why or why not?

Posts: 19

This experiment was extremely disturbing and gave a very disappointing portrayal of human society. I think most people would like to believe that the evil that happens in the world is a result of a few terrible people with some disease of the mind. They think of themselves as completely isolated from such people and although the average person knows they may not be a hero or a savior, they probably think they are at least living a respectable, honest life. However, this experiment shows how normal people are capable of great destruction if they are told by authority that it is the right thing to do. Even if they do not believe it themselves at first, something changes in their minds when a person whom they believe to be their superior is assuring them that they are doing the right thing. The way our society works today, a lab coat, a fancy suit, and a Harvard diploma are all things that can instantly make you credible in the eyes of the average person.

I am sure there are many other experiments like Milgram’s that would show similar results. If you had a group of people sitting in a waiting room and a woman with a dirty t-shirt, ripped jeans, and uncombed hair came in telling everyone to evacuate the area, most people would probably just look at her like she was crazy. However if a man in a nice suit and fancy shoes came in yelling the same order, I bet a lot more people would get up and leave. There is no real evidence proving either of these people were telling the truth, but there are certain artificial features that our society has sculpted to be indicative of authority. This also explains why it was so essential for the overseer in the experiment to be wearing a white lab coat, so he looked legitimate. These types of things show the power of authority in our society. We look up to certain people and begin to believe that if they are doing it, it has to be right, forgetting our own morals in the process. We see it happen with celebrities all the time. If Kim Kardashian suddenly decides cheetah print is in style, it is only a matter of time until everyone is rushing to the stores to buy it themselves, whether or not they liked it before. The bandwagon effect is very real, and people are quick to hop onto whatever trend or pattern everyone else is following because it seems like the safer option. While this may be innocent when it comes to things such as fashion trends, it becomes more serious when people’s lives or safety is at stake for whatever is going on.

Throughout history, we have seen that humans are capable of almost anything. Experiments such as this one show that events like the Holocaust are not isolated incidents. As soon as Hitler was able to convince people that he was going to save Germany, he gained followers that were willing to do anything to help him accomplish his goal. The people in the SS grew up in normal homes and led average lives with happy families. They were not monsters and this is the scariest part. Hitler created a twisted story in which he argued that by killing the Jews and the other targeted populations, they were saving Germany and the nation would thank them. Most of the soldiers probably didn’t like killing innocent people at first, but they kept Hitler’s ideals ahead of their morals in their mind, and pretty soon they weren’t thinking about it as killing innocent people but rather finishing a job. The same thing happened in Rwanda. The Hutus convinced others that getting rid of the Tutsis was just and deserved. In this case, the bandwagon effect led to a horrible genocide.

Milgram explained the tension that can arise when a person’s morals don’t match what they are being told by authority. He notes, “ When a parent says, ‘ Don’t strike old ladies,’ you are learning two things: the content and also to obey authority.” In this case, it works because the order given by authority is what most would consider morally sound. However, when the authority figure is telling you to do something that is not morally sound, such as in the Milgram experiment, things become more complicated. Then it becomes a question of whether or not the principle of “do the right thing” or “listen to your superiors” is more important to you. Milgram’s experiment shows that for 65% of people, the principle of authority is more important.

I think there are several factors playing a role in this. One is fear. The “teachers” don’t really know what the science behind this experiment is and they could be afraid of messing it up or causing more damage. This idea of fear for authority applies outside of the experiment, and many people are afraid to stand up for what is right because they fear the consequences it will bear from people of power. Another is a premature trust. Not only do the experiment “teachers” see the guy in the lab coat and immediately assume he must know what he is doing, but they are able to look at him and think “he looks a lot like me, this seems like a pretty nice guy, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt anybody”. This explains why such a lower percentage of people went all the way when there was no authority figure physically present (21%) and why no one followed through when the two figures were arguing. When they argued, the “teachers” completely lost that sense of trust in the authority. There is also a mix of ignorance and selfishness present. People tend to care less about things that don’t affect them directly. The “teachers” were not being put in any kind of physical harm during the experiment, and many of the participants seemed to fail to empathize with the person behind the screen. Lavender paint mentioned that “human beings never want anything to be their fault” and I completely agree with that point. We are quick to take credit for the good, but even quicker to point a finger when something bad happens. When watched the clip in class, the “teacher” made sure that it was going to be the facilitator who would take responsibility for anything that happened. I thought that was a very interesting question because I feel like if it was real, and something bad did happen, even if the facilitator took full legal responsibility, it is still the “teacher” who hurt the “learner”. I think if that was me, it would be hard to live with myself knowing I did that. The “teacher” we watched in the video deserves some credit for eventually starting to speak up and say it was too much and they should stop, even though eventually he did submit to the orders of the facilitator. This relates directly to the point stellman42 made that if humans “don’t don’t want to do something, they might be more hesitant, but in the end, they will probably still do that thing.” You could see he was emotionally disturbed when he heard the “learner” yelling and screaming in pain. However, as he continued, he seemed to become more and more desensitized to it. When people become desensitized to a subject, it is easier for them to be passive or do something bad without really thinking of the consequences.

I have watched a lot of film on the Stanford Prison Experiment which shows results that would support Milgram’s findings. In that experiment, people were randomly chosen to be either prisoners or guards in a fake prison. In a very short amount of time, the guards began to completely feed into the idea that they were superior to the prisoners and began to abuse their power, forcing the prisoners to do humiliating tasks and even physically hurting them. I was fascinated by the experiment because it was an unbelievable example of how quickly ordinary people can become evil if they believe in their authority strongly enough. In that experiment, some of the prisoners try to resist at first, but the guards give these rebels harsh punishments and soon the uprisings stop. The prisoners are afraid and this new power to control people is like a drug for the guards. Every time they punish a prisoner, they are not thinking about their moral wrongdoing, they are giving themselves a pat on the back for maintaining the societal construct of obeying authority.

Milgram’s experiment and others like it explain what it takes for humans to abandon their morals and do something evil. Throughout history and even today, we are faced with the issue of blindly obeying authority or thinking for ourselves. Often, obeying authority comes naturally because of the way our society is designed. When a math teacher explains a calculus problem, the students aren’t going to question it because it is understood that this person knows what they are talking about. When a doctor prescribes a patient medicine, the patient simply goes to the pharmacy to pick it up because they trust this person. However, this can be a dangerous path. What do you do when the President wants to close the borders and separate children from their families or when a religion doesn’t except certain sexual identities? We have to be careful not to act like robots and always follow authority because ultimately, our morals should be more important.

To answer fruitloops question, I think the confidence a person has in themselves can affect how easily they will submit to power. I think one of the reasons such a high percentage of people went all the way in the Milgram experiment is because they knew very little about what was going on and when the facilitator kept telling them it was necessary to continue with the experiment, they began to question whether or not their concerns about what was happening to the “learner” were legitimate. If you are already uncertain about your own beliefs, it is much easier to convince you of a certain way of thinking. In almost all historical examples, there are people like the 35% who didn’t go all the way and stuck to their morals in the experiment, and these are the people who are certain they are right and have complete faith in their morals. The people who hid Jews during the Holocaust or the Hutus that refused to kill Tutsis are the ones who had fully believed they were right and therefore, they were not willing to submit to authority. Those who are able to see past the lab coat are the ones who will choose their morals over authority.

I think Philip Zimbardo made a very interesting point when he said that the important question to ask of Milgram’s experiment is what the disobeying minority did after the refused to continue with the experiment. “Did they intervene, go to his aid, did they renounce the researcher, protest to higher authorities?” My question is what do you think these people should have done? Is it enough to walk away and simply refuse to be a part of the experiment, or is it necessary to do more?

Posts: 17

The most basic conclusion I can think of that comes from this experiment is that humans, overall, are not so great. However, I would like to expand on that. Humans are not so great especially when they have an authoritative figure, such as a person in a lab coat, telling them what to do. In order to have any authority, the lab coat person had to establish fear over the “teacher” in the experiment. I think this says a lot about humans as people. We are more egotistical than we think. When our own lives are in jeopardy, we put aside our ethics and morality—this leads to a more dangerous society, where, really no one should be trusted.

I cannot say what humans will be willing to do or not to do, that is an impossible question to answer, however I think that there is ample evidence throughout the history of human kind that humans are willing to do more than they should. A lot of times, when a human does more than they should’ve (i.e. participate in a genocide, mass shooting, bombing, etc.), they had a figure who they looked up to, telling them to do so. While this is not an excuse for neither electrocuting someone with 450 volts or killing hundreds of people with a machete, it is a consistent theme. So why do we allow ourselves to listen to the authoritative figures who control, for lack of a better word, a lot of the wrong doings that happen? Is it just fear or is it something more?

In my opinion, it is hard to analyze this experiment to better understand the kinds if human behavior we are experiencing in our time. Of course,there is the obvious answer that humans will do whatever and authoritative figure tells them to do, or as tealhop said “they will follow the word of the man in a lab coat over their own heart and gut”. But how does this explain someone going into a synagogue in California and just starting to shoot, or into a mosque in New Zealand and shooting, or leaving a bomb in a backpack at the arrival of the Boston Marathon with the pure intent of hurting. These people, to my knowledge, had no authoritative figure telling them to go out and kill people, they did as their free will choice. So, while I really do not believe that the human kind is inherently bad, I do believe that there people who will do bad things, and often it is for one of two reasons: 1) it is out of pure hate, or 2) an authoritative person told them to do so (as the Milgram experiment proves).

To answer Captain 123’s question, I do not think that it was enough to just walk away. I mean if you are walking down the street and hear someone scream from pain, you would stop to help, you wouldn’t just say “it wasn’t me who hurt them, that’s enough”. I think the right thing to do would have been to say you wouldn’t be the “teacher” after you saw the “learner” get strapped down to the chair. And then, once you have put yourself in that position, if you hear a scream, you have to stick to your morals and make sure the other person is ok. Just walking out, is not enough.

Now to pose my own question. One of the general themes of the whole course this year has been up standers vs. by standers. So my question is, in the case, of this experiment which would you have been and when do you go from being an up stander to a by stander— when is too late? Meaning, when wold you have stopped and said that’s enough.

Posts: 18

I found it really odd that Milgram’s initial experiment was intended to test for the “fatal flaw” of Germans that would have allowed for a genocide the scale of the Holocaust. His experiment showed the effect that fear has when the outcome of disobeying is unknown rather than show the ability of how quickly people could be brainwashed like which occured in Nazi Germany where many supporters believed Hitler’s ideologies. Many people in Germany were persuaded that Hitler’s agenda was for the common good of Germany and those who did not, kept quiet rather than risking the lives of themselves and their families. This “keeping quiet” is that same idea that Milgram tested in his experiment to figure out if people would trust or be too afraid to blatantly disobey the orders of authority. When the Rwandan genocide was going on, all it would have taken was one person in a UN meeting to call the event a genocide which would force the UN to take action. However, despite the clear evidence that it was a genocide, no one used the term and rather avoided it at all costs. Since major powers like the United States clearly did not want to label this as a genocide, other smaller countries may have felt like if they called it a genocide, it would put them on bad terms with the US which could hurt them later.

There is something very appealing about being able to do something that you may normally not do because someone of authority tells you to. I remember when my teachers in elementary school would ask me to deliver something to the office or grab something from a teacher’s only room and the feeling of confidence I had walking down the halls and entering an “off limits” place ready to say “Ms. So and so told me to” if stopped by anyone. There is a feeling of protection and immunity from harm when your actions are justified by the words of someone more powerful than you. I think of many scenarios in movies and tv of a kid being teased or bullied and then being told by their parents to stand up for themselves resulting in them hitting or doing something really awful to the bully that was not what the adult intended. From a young age, we learn that if people whom you trust tell you to do something, you should do it.

In the film, we saw the “teacher” repeat over and over that if anything had happened to the student, it was not their responsibility but that of the experimenter. Once the experimenter confirmed this, the teacher continued to shock the student. The perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide often used them being instructed by the Hutu government to kill the Tutsi as an excuse of their actions. Eventually, killing people may have felt so normalized that being punished for doing it did not seem possible. I would say that it is much easier to do something you’re not necessarily supposed to when the responsibility of your actions fall on someone of a greater power and influence than yourself.

In the scenario when two authority figures were in the room and argued over the experiment, I am not surprised that no teacher gave the full amount of shocks. If one administrator seemed unsure about the safety or morals of the experiment, it confirms in the teachers mind that it is unethical to continue shocking the student after he is displaying obvious signs of pain. When there was just the one authority figure who was very sure and confident in his commands to continue the experiment, the teacher may have felt like there was no other option but to continue or face perhaps harmful consequences himself.

With social media and many ways of publicly voicing opinions on actions and events, it makes it very easy on modern day to speak your mind without being afraid of direct physical consequences. People constantly call out Donald Trump online for his comments and decisions which can then be supported by people all around the world who share those ideas by reposting the message. I would say that the majority of these average people, if given the chance, would not attack Trump’s decisions to his face. October2020 poses the question of when I would have said enough is enough to the experiment and defied authority and when the switch from upstander to bystander would occur. I would definitely object to the experiment once I heard the cries of the student but in truth I have no idea if I would be able to immediately stop with the experiment especially if the authority figure was saying that it was necessary for the test to go on. The thought of hurting someone so much to the point of their un ableness to respond and then continuing to hurt them is terrifying and even if the administrator said that if anything happened it was their fault, I do not think I would able to continue to administer shocks and just leave. I find it really hard to stand up when witnessing something that is clearly wrong, especially in a group if no one else is speaking up. The story of the boy on the mbta bus who seemed to be afraid and possibly abused by his father that we read at the beginning of the year comes to mind as a bystander justifying their unwillingness to stand up since they were unsure weather kt was their place to say something. Everyone on the bus was aware of the uncomfortable relationship and stress of the boy and his father but no one said anything.

I wonder, is there any way that people can practice or get better at being an upstander rather than a bystander? I know it is a very different experience for all people but how can we as a society and individually feel more comfortable and less afraid of the consequences of speaking up?

Michael Scott
Posts: 18

So many participants were able to go through this experiment because they were dissociated from the blame and were acting under a clear authority. Milgram said it best the quote that was included, that it is easy to ignore responsibility when “one is only an intermediate link in a chain of evil action.” Without having to accept blame, all one has to do is act. When in reality, as soon as people have to assume blame, they are forced to think about their actions. Also, acting under authority, it’s a lot easier to just do what someone else wants you to do. I think some portion of that is that people generally are insecure in their own beliefs. They live their lives based on what others expect from them and are never allowed the chance to think for themselves. Once they are told something else is “right”, as people are told murdering is in the experiment, it becomes that much easier to believe it.

I think it’s pretty clear that humans respond sharply to authority. It leads back to the idea that we believe “oh, I would never do that” or that “I could never do that.” But really, being the intermediate link in a chain of evil action and having to just do and not think, dissociates people from what they think is really possible. While it is very easy to simply obey authority, it is also possible, as a meek percentage displayed, to stand up for your beliefs. It’s important to look at the people who obeyed authority despite clear moral implications as well as the people who were able to think for themselves.

This experiment helps explain especially well the perpetrators in genocides, the Rwandan or Holocaust for example. Before the genocides began, the perpetrators in these genocides were “normal” people: they were neighbors, friends, and classmates. This experiment shows how easy it is for someone to be swayed under authority under the right circumstances when not confident in one’s own beliefs. That being said, even if these people do not necessarily make decisions independently, this doesn’t make it okay to do what they do—obviously. It simply helps explain how someone can turn so quickly, and encourages people to live their lives for themselves not simply based ons social expectations. In addition, it helps explain a lot of things nowadays. When people act based on authority and not their own personal judgement, it relates to this experiment: the people locking others in cages at the borders or people fighting in a war that they don’t even agree with.

In response to fruitloops, I completely think that how sure someone is in their beliefs reflects how easily they will submit to power. If you live your life by others’ measures, then why would it be any different when it comes to doing something so morally wrong. It’s really hard to all of a sudden think for yourself when you’ve never done otherwise. When is that line drawn? The line between allowing others to think for yourself, telling you what’s right, and between sticking up for your beliefs.

What is the common link between people who were able to stand up for their beliefs and refuse authority?

The Middle Child
Posts: 17

I believe this reinforces what I have heard before about human behavior, that we like to feel in control and we feel as though we need a purpose with ourselves and our lives. Having and listening to authority provides that.

I believe that we, as humans follow authority so willingly because we want control of the chaotic reality of the world. This is a very deep thought. But I think that so many people want to feel in control and we as a society do things to make us feel in control. We make rules and have everybody follow them so that we know and understand the behaviors of those around us. This gives us a sense of calm and control, because as we have all heard before humans seem to have a very large fear of the unknown. Authority plays a role in this because (I think) that humans like being told what to do because it gives them a sense of purpose. When there is someone who 'outranks' you, you feel more comfortable because you assume they know what they are doing and they have the authority to boss you around for a reason, and hopefully a good one.

I also believe that society tells us to follow authority and it is one of the major lessons that is continuously reinforced in us as we grow up. I'm not saying that listening to authority is one of societies traps and that we shouldn't do it. I think listening to the authority in life is important but I think this 'lesson' we all learn is part of the reason the teachers were willing to go so far. If we do not listen to authority then what do we do with ourselves, it is all we know and all we have grown up with.

Also having authority means you are only the middleman and as tealhop and lavenderpaint mentioned this creates detachment. This takes the responsibility off your shoulders. You feel less detached when you have to make the decisions to end someone's life rather than when you could just claim "well they told me too and they are my superior, I am just doing my job and listening as I was taught to do for the entirety of my life."

I also think that from the stats of the experiments detachment and obeying authority has a lot to do with proximity, visuality and dominance. Dominance, because if the person with authority shows that and proves it to you they know what they are doing and have complete control of the situation then you will follow more easily, because as I mentioned before we as humans like being told what to do. When authority is not completely dominating or doubting, as the lab coats who argued and the results from that experiment it causes people to not trust their authority as much, and therefore not obey it. Proximity, because when you are close to a person and can look them in the eyes and see their pain or experience their pain this will cause one to hesitate, because they feel more of a personal connection as shown through those teachers who had to personally strap their hands to metal plates. Also visual, and this goes two ways. If you cannot see the authority as a threat, a.k.a, not there in front of your face to potentially force you to go against your will, you are more likely to resist especially in cases where morality and human life is involved. The other part of visuality is seeing the person you are causing pain. You see firsthand how they are hurt and how their pain is affecting them. You take away the wall between them and force them to face the reality of what they are doing. (What this means for blind people I do not know.) This makes you think of the case with the Nazis and their Zyklon B, they might have been less affected because they were detached from their victims. But in the case of Rwanda, all my theories about visuality and proximity the empathy for the victim theories go out the window. Maybe, as seen if the killer accounts it was a lot of the fear of what others would do to them if they didn't kill the Tutsis.

To answer Michael Scott the common link between people who were able to stand up for their beliefs and refuse authority, is their willpower. And also how deep their beliefs are. People who stand up for their beliefs often are the ones refusing authority because if whow deeply invested they are in their beliefs. They also have a strength to keep fighting for it and ignoring rules of society that not everyone has.

With this new 'insight' to human behavior what will you do, if anything? Change your behavior towards authority? Will listen to authority at all, why or why not? Also are we always so sure that it is society telling us to listen to authority or do we believe in and trust the idea of listen to whatever the 'authority' is in our lives? (you don't have to answer all of them)

Posts: 17

This experiment was a very weird one to witness and watch. The section we watched in class was disturbing to watch and listen to. The teacher was clearly in distress, but yet he still continued to “shock” the victim. The study concluded that, “A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitation of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.” The horrifying this is that people will obey what they perceive to be a legitimate authority. People are so susceptible and easily manipulated. Because of that, horrible people are able to use that to their advantage and create an army.

It was very interesting to see how altering some aspects of the experiment changed the percentage of people who are willing to shock the person. For instance, the experiment showed, people are less likely to shock the victim if they placed the victim’s hand on the metal plate. Just as the Nazis followed orders blindly and dropped Zyklon B pellets into the gas chambers which ended countless lives. People are able to easily remove themselves from violence and harm. In the beginning of Milgram’s experiment, the teacher referred to the learner by name but as the shocks increased he called him “gentleman.” And as got more frustrated with the authority figure he still kept a respectful tone. Whether consciously or sub consciously he felt as if he could not disobey the man in the lab coat. The teacher was hesitant, but still continued with the experiment as long as the authority figure assured him they would take full responsibility. He asked him repeatedly, but he eventually just continued on with the experiment. The perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide used many different excuses to justify their actions. I think a combination of mob mentality and the phenomena of the experiment fuelled historical genocides.

I think TheRiver brought up an interesting point with how Donald Trump was able to captivate so many people and gain their trust. Trump exudes a lot of confidence and he is very charismatic. His bold actions have cause so many people to trust and support him. Many modern leaders have been able to capture the public’s attention by exerting confidence thus creating trust.

Lawrence 1912
Posts: 17

listen up

This is experiment is a very curious examination of human nature. I knew of this experiment quite well previously, making the results slightly less shocking.

The immediate conclusions are clear: people obey authority. We all accept authority willingly. In examining this, I think that there is no clearer evidence of how we accept authority than the testimony of the “teacher.”

One of the first things that truly stood out to me during his interview was when he was simply asked, “Why didn’t you just stop?” The answer was simple, “He wouldn’t let me.” He goes on concerning the same subject. He says, “I kept insisting we stop, [Williams] said no.” The first quote intrigues me. The experimenter in no way forced the subject to do anything. He only calmly asked. However, the subject felt forced to continue. The “teacher” always had the physical capability to stop. However, he never did. He admits that he ultimately only continued because he had been ordered to do so.

I do not fully understand why we may follow authority so easily. I was intrigued by seeing that Milgram believes that obedience is a learned trait. We are taught to listen to commands from a young age. This makes me wonder if obedience is not only a habit but rather a value. I believe that many of us are taught to value obedience, and so we use it above all else when making decisions. We need this value, too, as the article points out, in order to have a fully functioning society.

I think that it is moderately unsettling to consider RitzCracker’s theory. I hope that there is not any soul who would kill another merely for the sake of the novelty. That could lead to an explosion in homicide rates. However, it could show simply how easy it is for humans to be persuaded.

This man was extremely obedient, even if he did not want to be. He explains this too in the interview. He simply says, repeating the asked question, “Something [the learner] would have said to gotten me to stop? No.” He admits that he would have followed the order no matter the circumstances presented to him. It is not surprising, then, that Milgram would feel disturbed encountering these people in his daily life.

The implications of this statement are extremely terrifying. It means that we will tune out the outside world. There was a Black Mirror episode that dealt with this concept to a degree. The episode is called “Men Against Fire” and is from the third season. In it, the premise is that the government has developed a technology which allows soldier not to see their victims as humans. When this technology starts to fail, the main character begins to realize the existence of this technology, and so he begins resistant to obedience. However, I do not believe that this is legitimate. While he may have been committing genocide, he was receiving orders. It is unlikely that he ever would have stopped in actuality.

The next and arguably most disturbing part of the interview came right in the center. The man did not claim to be distressed, or anxious but rather just worried for the life and well being of his friend. I doubt whether or not he was actually telling the truth in this instance. The two things that gave him away were (1) his use of a cigarette to ease himself and (2) his seeming denial of his actions.

His use of a cigarette may have been due to social acceptability. However, it is also quite possible that he was using the nicotine in an attempt to calm his nerves. It may have been a nervous habit for him to simply have something in his mouth.

The man also seems to attempt to glorify himself and deny all culpability for the incident. When posed the idea that if he were in a medical setting, would things be any different, he says that maybe if he had known that it was safe, “[he] would go on.” This point amazes me. To me, it does not matter that he did pause at points. He ultimately did continue with the coaching of the experimenter. By saying “I would go on,” there is an implication that at the moment he stood up, all responsibility for his actions transferred from his own self to the experimenter. He did not injure Wallace, the experimenter did.

As many have already noted, starting with The River, these are also the moments when the teacher asks if the experimenter will take responsibility for the actions. There is an obsession with who may be the responsible actor.

He goes on saying, “I was getting ready to walk out” and “I was just about ready to get out of here.” He seems to claim that he had taken all possible steps to prevent an atrocity. If he had only been pushed a little further, he would have left, as he claims. However, as his previous quote shows, there was no possibility of this happening. He wanted to vindicate his own actions. For this reason, I do not doubt that he would do this again.

Before discussing the implications of this study, I would like to discuss a few things.

First, according to the article, 83.7% of those surveyed said they were glad to have done what they did. This is terrifying. I think that this means that humans have the tendency to be able to justify their actions, no matter how terrible they may be.

The second thing I would like to discuss are the variations to this study. The few that are the most interesting to note are what happened when the experimenter was not presented. Rates decreased dramatically, with some teachers even faking their actions, lying that they had administered a shock.

The next interesting result is the one in which participants completed the task with other teachers. If the others complied, they were more likely to. If they did not, they too were less likely to comply. The implication shows that we are more likely to either start or stop committing morally atrocious acts if we are surrounded by others who are acting in the same way.

The final interesting iteration is when participants had to do a subsidiary task (ask questions by a microphone or record the answers) while another teacher did the shocking. Out of the 40 subjects, 37 complied. This is the epitome of the bystander effect. Most participants would not care to do anything to stop and would be complicit with the seeming member of another individual. Ultimately, this shows that most participants (a number significantly higher than 50%) were willing in one way or another to help in the killing of another.

This brings me to my final point on the experiment proper. Milgram says he wouldn’t shock the learner. I simply cannot believe that he would say this. Milgram understood that those whom we would typically consider being innocent are not and are more than willing to commit acts of murder. Milgram should have understood that there was no way to be immune from this. However, if I had had the ability to meet Milgram before he died and could only ask one question, I would ask, “Mr. Milgram, if you had been in this experiment, and had not known that it was about obedience, where would you stop? Where would you draw the line?” I would frame his answer.

RitzCracker also addressed this in their post, saying that we do not know how far we may go. I too do not know at exactly what point I would stop. I do not even know if any of us can confidently predict our rebellion.

The implications of this experiment show me a simple answer to one of the proposed questions. I think that, with the right amount of encouragement by proper authority, most humans can be compelled to do actually anything. I do not think that there is any task which would be so terrible that no one would listen with the right encouragement.

I think we can also learn from this experiment that humans have no genuine free choice in their actions. When under the control of greater authority, we do not actually decide what we want to do for our own selves, but rather we allow that figure to decide for us. This is not a comfortable thing to realize. As Milgram points out, it would not take much for our government to compel us to act terribly.

The genuine real-world applications of this are numerous. For this reason, I will examine 3.

First, in the case of the Rwandan genocide, the perpetrators understood that they had not been acting by themselves. They explain such in many of their own testimonies, saying that they were being forced to kill others. The interhamwe had forced them to kill, as they explain. This is untrue, as they did not have specific killing quotes, nor did the interhamwe constantly have a gun on the back of their head. Nevertheless, they felt forced.

People were also compelled by the Radio. The radio shouted orders directly to kill. It gave the locations of those running. It did not force anyone to kill. It only encouraged them to do so. However, there was not an understanding of authority, as the quote I used in my previous post shows. While Radios do not kill people, they do hold the responsibility for their deaths.

The second example is much more light-hearted. We constantly obey the many rules around us. We honor the authority of our teachers. If every student revolted, there would be no one who could stop them. However, despite having such an idea in our heads, there is no genuine initiative to do any such thing. This makes me want to see an iteration of the Milgram experiment where the experimenter casually said something like, “You know, if you stopped, I would not be able to stop you. Nevertheless, it is essential that you continue.” Though I doubt it, I wonder how heavily this would change the outcomes.

However, we accept all the BS school rules. For example, almost no one wears a hat in school (shout out to Mr. Chaumers for being the exception). Not a single person I know carries scissors with them. Everyone dressed up for declamation. We all use school locks despite the school never using their ability to open our lockers. We have never actually had to follow these rules. We have consistently chosen to obey many of these arbitrary rules.

The final example comes from our president, Donald Trump, and his attacks against the media. On multiple occasions, he has called for the assault of journalists. On February 12, one of his supporters, donning a MAGA cap, assault a BBC cameraman.

Many leaders of the Democratic party were sent suspicious packages in late 2018. With them too were prominent news organizations which the president had criticized.

In late 2018, Trump recommended to the Associated Press that no comedian attend the Whitehouse Correspondent’s dinner. They listened, despite this shattering president. This explains why the latest comedic remarks have not exploded on YouTube; they were given by a historian.

Trump has never explicitly advocated the attack of journalists. He has rather called them “the enemy of the people,” praised those who have attacked journalists, and has offered to pay the legal fees for anyone who does. He has mocked anyone he thinks his opposition. He has repetitively shown that he is incapable of handling comedy. While anyone who physically attacks one of these groups may be acting on their own, there is an important discussion to be had as to whose fault it really is.

In response to the Middle Child’s question, my responses are as follows:

I definitely will not do anything different. I have already known of this experiment and I have not been able to motivate myself to change. Since it is easier to listen to authority, I think that I have accepted such as instinct.

I will continue to remain cautious of authority figures. For example, if the headmaster asks me to do anything, I will almost definitely comply. It would be too much trouble to disobey.

For the third question, I think that I may be able to think slightly more critically about each thing I am asked to do by authority, by my actions and opinions will likely hardly change.

And finally, I think that there is an important realization to be made concerning society. We, humans, comprise society. Society does not teach us how to act. Humans do. We adopt human traits through society. I think that what society has always been present within ourselves and society has simply highlighted those tendencies

My question for the next poster is: did this experiment only work because it was set in America? Would have worked in another culture?

Also, what other variables may have altered the outcome? How would they have altered the outcome?

Posts: 20

When the experiment was first introduced in class, I wasn't really sure what to expect because we read the original advertisement for the study, which did not disclose all of the details about how the experiment would operate. Once we started watching the video of the experiment, the people participating had no idea what they had signed up for, and the class was learning as well, for those who weren't aware of this experiment before hand. Before knowing the actual purpose of the experiment and knowing that the “student” wasn't actually being shocked, I was horrified that the authority figure was not showing any emotion towards the suffering student. I was also frustrated though because the “teacher” continually showed his concern for the “student” as he was in pain and the voltage kept going up, but the “teacher” did nothing even though no one was stopping him from taking any course of action to save the “student”.

From this experiment , I concluded that we are all susceptible to authority. A majority of individuals will continue to obey authority figures even if the individuals believe the acts to be wrong or harmful to another person. Many of the participants were ashamed of what they had done, and they really felt horrible about it. But, as we saw in the video of the experiment and in the data from the experiment, the “teachers” found it difficult to disobey the authority figure, or didn’t disobey them at all, even though there was no one telling them they couldn’t help the “suffering student”. Another thing that seemed to have a strong effect on participants' willingness to shock to the end was their ability to shed responsibility.Many participants seemed much more comfortable when the experimenter indicated that he would take full responsibility for what happened and that the participant would not be responsible for any harm that he had done. It is the idea of obeying orders that are given and just “following the rules”.

As humans, we tend to listen and obey authority because we think they have some higher knowledge or power over the ”common citizen”, or they think the authority is legitimate, which is false. People justify their behavior by assigning responsibility to the authority rather than themselves, as seen when the teacher repeatedly asked who would accept responsibility if the person receiving the electric shock was dead or severely injured, and then resumed the experiment after the instructor said he is fully responsible. People also define the behavior that’s expected of them as routine.In class when we were reading account from the killers in the Rwandan Genocide, some people tried to justify their actions and say that murdering the Tutsis became a routine thing, and that they didn't want to resist because then they would be killed as well. Also an example of defining expected behavior as routine is similar to the following of Donald Trump, which The River mentioned briefly. This specifically was brought to my attention a lot more in D.C. while we were on the trip and saw the large group of children on a field trip all wearing the MAGA hats. These kids really do not understand what they are representing or what ideas, racist or not, they were supporting. For them, being surrounded by and assimilated to those beliefs from their families is ‘routine’ for them, and will later be their excuse to why they have certain views towards specific groups of people or specific issues.
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