Discuss Milgram experiments on reaction to authority

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Discuss Milgram experiments on reaction to authority

Milgram’s experiments on obedience to authority were a series of psychological studies conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. The studies aimed to examine people’s willingness to obey authority figures, even when asked to do something that went against their moral beliefs or caused harm to others.

In the classic version of the experiment, Milgram recruited participants from the local community and told them that they would be participating in a study on learning and memory. The participants were then paired with an “assistant,” who was actually a confederate of the experimenter. The participants were instructed to read a list of word pairs to the assistant and then give them a mild electric shock every time they made a mistake. The shock intensity was increased with each mistake, and the participants were told that they were responsible for administering the shocks.

In reality, the electric shocks were not real and the assistant was not being shocked. However, the participants did not know this, and many of them became distressed and anxious as they administered the increasingly intense shocks. Despite their discomfort, a significant proportion of the participants continued to follow the experimenter’s instructions and administer the shocks, even when the assistant pleaded with them to stop or begged for mercy.

Milgram’s experiments on obedience to authority have been highly influential in the field of psychology, and they have helped to shed light on the factors that can influence people’s behaviour and decision-making in the presence of authority. They have also raised important ethical concerns about the use of deception in psychological research and the potential for harm to be inflicted on study participants.

One of the key findings from Milgram’s experiments is that people are often willing to follow the instructions of an authority figure, even when those instructions are unethical or harmful to others. This is known as the “obedience” effect, and it suggests that people have a natural tendency to follow authority figures, especially when they feel uncertain or lack confidence in their own judgment.

There are a number of factors that can influence obedience, including the perceived legitimacy of the authority figure, the perceived consequences of disobedience, and the perceived similarity between the authority figure and the person being asked to obey. In addition, social and cultural factors, such as the roles and expectations associated with different positions of power, can also influence obedience.

Milgram’s experiments have been widely cited and discussed in the fields of psychology and sociology, and they have contributed to our understanding of how people respond to authority and group dynamics. However, the results of the experiments have also been the subject of controversy and criticism, particularly with regard to the ethical implications of using deception in research.

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