• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In his 1963 study, The Perils of Obedience, Stanley Milgram showed us that we can be far too obedient and often times not even realize it. The conclusions Milgram comes to and the conclusions that the readers are prompted to realize

Extracts from this document...


Compliant Tendencies "If a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany, one would be able to find sufficient personnel for those camps in any medium-sized American town (Milgram "The Perils of Obedience.")." In his 1963 study, The Perils of Obedience, Stanley Milgram showed us that we can be far too obedient and often times not even realize it. The conclusions Milgram comes to and the conclusions that the readers are prompted to realize on their own are disturbingly timeless and shocking, to say the least. Milgram's findings are also very general, as if over-obedience could be an ingrained, genetic aspect of human nature as well as a product of one's environment. In any event, these conclusions are immensely important when one is inclined to examine just exactly how we respond to terror and our leaders. Milgram demonstrated that the authoritarian, sadist personality is not just a social fringe, but rather is a dormant natural function of all humans in some way or another, especially when obedience becomes a factor (Milgram "The Perils of Obedience."). Close study of Milgram's entire article is highly recommended seeing as his insights apply today just as they did when he conducted his famous experiments. ...read more.


According to Milgram, obedience distinctively binds humankind to systems of authority and links individual action to political purpose. In terms of observations, obedience accepted as an ingrained behavior tendency and obeying a system of authority has been comprehended as a virtue, but Milgram questions what will happen if it serves for a malevolent cause. Milgram also refers to humanists and conservative philosopher's opinions to show the philosophical and legal aspects of obedience. Conservative philosophers stand up for obeying rules even if the authority is malignant in order not to break down the structure of the society and to preserve (conserve) cultural values. On the other hand, humanists argue that the individual conscience must overrule the authority in a contradiction, and that all authority should be questioned. Milgram comes up with a set of "binding factors" that ensure the subject to carry on to the trial. He finds out that the civility of the subject arises from his promise to help the experimenter, and the awkwardness of withdrawal binds the subject to the experiment. Milgram mentions a number of adjustments in the subject's opinions that nullify his decision to break with the authority figure. These adjustments help the subject sustain his relationship with the experimenter, and decrease the experimental disagreement. ...read more.


Milgram tried to combat this through counseling the subjects after the experience to remove any trauma they had experienced. Milgram also took advantage of the subject because the exact procedure was not explained to them when they agreed to participate. His experiment was harmful because it may have caused permanent psychological damage and caused people to be less trusting in their futures. In any case, the laboratory is not the best place to study obedience anyway, because the unfamiliarity could have caused a reaction of more obedience in the presence of doubt and indecision. Otherwise, Milgram did an excellent job with his experiment and was very scientific and empirical about it. As far as anyone concerned could tell, his perceived bias did not seep into his scientific observations (Blass pp86-94). In the modern age, it is of even more importance that we remember that not all authority should be followed blindly. Most people easily shrug off and soon forget the outcomes of psychological studies because they show us a side of ourselves that is not something we really want to know, but we really need to pay attention to these psychological observations as much as possible. This is why Milgram's studies are so important and groundbreaking; they showed us what we were really capable of. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    SA - Milgram - 1963

    3 star(s)

    * 15 volt different between each switch. * Labels to describe intensity - from "slight shock" (weakest) to "xxx" (strongest). * Teachers (ppts) were given a 45 volts shock to convince them that the shocks were real. * Teacher was told to give shock for every wrong answer while moving a shock level higher on shock generator.

  2. Conformity & Obedience to Authority.

    * The teacher then sat in a separate room with the shock generator and asked the learner a series of memory questions. The learner would then respond via a light system, and if he responded wrongly, the teacher pressed a 15-volt button.

  1. Psychology Questions Ansewered

    years old They were then allocated to one of three conditions, the standard fixed array and the one judgement based on their ages. The study contained a restricted sample in that the children all came from a Homogenous background. They were all from Devon England.

  2. Theories On Obedience

    In the case of Milgrams study, because the participant could not directly see the electric shocks he thought he was administering, this added to the levels of obedience because he would not have seen the consequences of what he was doing.

  1. Should Milgram's experiments on obedience even have been conducted?

    Whenever the teacher hesitated, the experimenter gave standardised prods to encourage him to continue - 'please continue', 'the experiment requires that you continue', 'it is absolutely essential that you continue', and 'you have no other choice, you must go on'.

  2. Were Milgram and Zimbardo unethical?

    Maybe if they had not been so shocking (excuse the pun!) people would not have given Milgram's work a second thought, perhaps the unpalatable findings made people seek to discredit the procedures. Milgram's work on obedience was attacked on ethical grounds, saying he deceived people and caused unreasonable distress.

  1. Conformity and Obedience

    The participants showed clear visible signs of distress whilst giving the shocks on one hand they could hear Mr Wallace's fake cries of anguish from the other room but on the other the researcher gave verbal prods when the participants showed reluctance to carry on.

  2. The Milgram Stanley 1963 Behavioural Study of Obedience

    The learner (stooge) was a 47 year old acting as Mr Wallace a well-mannered accountant with a heart problem. The experimenter watched the teacher as he gave the shocks he was dressed in a grey lab coat which gave him an important authority appearance, also handing out prods to the participant if he was feeling nervous or unsure.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work