Milgram performed an experiment in 1963 in order to evaluate the justifications of scientists and doctors who were convicted of inhumane crimes of WWII. They justified themselves by saying that their actions were a reaction to expected obedience from higher authorities. Hence, Milgram decided to investigate the incongruousness between following orders and self-conscience (Abbott, 2016). He performed an experiment in order to assess how far a person can go in following orders of his authorized personnel. Henceforth, he decided to recruit a bunch of participants for his experiment and asked them to follow the orders from their senior, who was Milgram’s confederate, to shock the learner with every wrong answer. At the end of his experiment, it was noted how far the participant could go just in following the orders from his senior and would harm the learner. The conclusion of his experiment was that people tend to surrender themselves and give in when contained in a situation governed by a higher authority.
The famous Milgram’s Obedience study holds a very important place in psychology as it proves how the human mind can be molded and trained in any way possible. If people believe in their superiors and consider them morally and ethically correct then they would follow them blindly and their minds can be convinced to do any inhumane act possible. This behavior has been engraved in our human psychology from the way we are brought up from our childhood be it in our schools or our homes. When we order our children and students to act according to how we order them to, this is how to lay down the basis of how important it is to follow orders no matter what. Instead, we should be teaching them to always listen to their self-conscience before acting in any situation.
Milgram’s study supports the idea that people do not act according to who they are but they act according to the situation they are facing. Moreover, the effect of authorization is so evident in ourselves that even though our ego makes us feel we feel guilty about any inhumane or illegal act that we’re doing, we would still rather listen to the orders than listen to our conscience. Apart from its significance in psychology, Milgram’s experiment has also laid the foundation of how ethically research experiments can be performed by consenting the participant and without harming his life.
Abbott, A. (2016). Modern Milgram experiment sheds light on power of authority. Nature News, 530(7591), 394.
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Rudnytsky, P. L. (2018). Reading Psychoanalysis: Freud, Rank, Ferenczi, Groddeck. Cornell University Press.