Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Milgram still works...

I'm prepping a lecture on research ethics, and, of course, I'm covering Stanley Milgram's experiment back in the day. Well, just found out that his work has been replicated, and even in the 21st century, people are still willing to shock others to death if an authority figure tells them to.

"Replicating one of the most controversial behavioral experiments in history, a Santa Clara University psychologist has found that people will follow orders from an authority figure to administer what they think are painful electric shocks.

More than two-thirds of volunteers in the research study had to be stopped from administering 150-volt shocks of electricity, despite hearing a person’s cries of pain, professor Jerry M. Burger reported in a study published in the January issue of the journal American Psychologist

Ugh... not surprising, but still dismaying.

Thanks David!


Anonymous said...

One thing I've always wondered about: The people who worked for Milgrim--lab assistants, probably graduate students--were willingly complicit in an activity that they must have realized would cause psychological pain to the subjects of the experiment. Yet as far as I know, none of THEM ever quit or refused to go on with the ruse, probably because "the experiment demands that you continue." Did any of them ever address this irony?

John Williams said...

Here's a good video on YouTube from a reality TV show that put contestants in the same experiment as Milgram. Because it is not a psychology experiment, they didn't stop the subjects at 150 Volts like the Santa Clara experiment.

Brad Wright said...

Good point point about the lab assistants... you're right, I too have not heard them talked about.

THanks for the video, John. I'll be showing it in class next week!