Reply to 2 classmates post for Psych Course – 1

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The study of destructive obedience in the laboratory. Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others. Obedience, as a determinant of behavior, is of particular relevance to our time. (Milgram, 1963).

The very life of society is predicated on its existence. Obedience may be ennobling and educative and refer to acts of charity and kindness, as well as to destruction. Before giving an account of the experi- mental results, it is instructive to consider how persons predict others will perform when commanded to administer powerful shocks to another person. (Milgram, 1963).

The contribution of the experiment yielded two findings that were surprising. The first finding concerns the sheer strength of obedient tendencies manifested in this situation. Subjects have learned from childhood that it is a funda- mental breach of moral conduct to hurt an- other person against his will(Milgram,1963).

The ethical concern is the inhuman technics that the subject has to endure just to complete the research. Any understanding of the phenomenon of obedience must rest on an analysis of the particular conditions in which it occurs(Milgram,1963).

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of obedience. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 67(4), 371-378. doi:10.1037/h0040525


Milgram’s experiment correlates with the definition of obedience and how we as individuals or groups respond to authoritarian figures. In our Social Psychology textbook by Kassin, Fein, & Markus (2017), they define obedience as a behavioral change that is produced by the commands of authority. Our textbook chronicles Milgram’s experiment and how he studied 40 men from different age groups, skills, and professions. He was testing the potential of psychological harm of electric shock and the effects done to a person given commands that could harm others when they do not follow instructions as well as the reactions of “T’s.”

In the “The Milgram Experiment” video and his journal article on the “BEHAVIORAL STUDY OF OBEDIENCE” (Milgram, (1963), he used cutouts which were recruited to work with him. He made all sure every piece of equipment appeared to be genuine. The unsuspecting subjects had no idea that the experiment was rigged in the beginning. Both students and teachers were told to draw pieces of paper, however, both had a “T” on it. The obedient subjects were shown the equipment, given a demonstration, and told what was expected of them in the form of a series of questions, as well as given word pairs that they had to answer correctly to avoid punishment. For the questions that were answered incorrectly, the participant received shock treatment that ranged from slight to severe shocks of 15 to 450 volts at a time. During parts of the experiment, the participants looked at the experimenter for help when it came to how they answered to avoid the shocks that could be rendered. Some of the testers completed the entire cycle even though they saw the subjects under stress, sweating, trembling, pounding their fist against their head, convulsing, having seizures and they laughed. There was tension between the person administering the test as well as those involved in the shock treatment. Some of the testers walked out because they could not see themselves inflicting that much on someone else.

“The consequences, as I detected them in the test center, are distressing. They increase the likelihood that human nature cannot be counted on to shield men from cruelty and coldhearted treatment at the direction of malevolent authority. A considerable quantity of people do what they are told to do, regardless of the content of the act, and without boundaries of morality, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority. Notice that what the experimenter says to keep the teachers going is scripted. When they get to “you have no choice” people refuse to go on. I feel people who continued in the experimenter did so because they thought it was contributing to a higher cause.

And it should give us all hope to see as in this experiment and everyday life that there are people who do not blindly obey and follow orders. There are individuals who feel as if they are doing something wrong that causes others pain because they are not able to comply with the instructions.

I think this study, shows how those in the CIA and members of the military found themselves in so much trouble at the former Abu Ghraib Prison Complex in Iraq and the “Black Sites” in Thailand. They followed orders, they destroyed evidence as ordered and gave another black to America.

Also, in “Song, G., Ma, Q., Wu, F., & Li, L. (2012), “THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATION OF CONFORMITY” cited Milgram’s experiment in their article subtopic on “Conformity” wrote about the “pioneering research on conformity that was conducted by Sherif in 1935 (cited in Friedman, Sears, & Smith, 1984). Psychologists such as Asch (1951) and Milgram (1963) subsequently conducted similar experimental studies of “Milgram, Bickman, & Berkowitz, (1969).”


Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social

Psychology, 67(4), 371–378.

Saul Kassin, S. F. (2017). Social Psychology 10th Edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Song, G., Ma, Q., Wu, F., & Li, L. (2012). THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATION OF

CONFORMITY. Social Behavior and Personality, 40(8), 1365-1372. Retrieved from…

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