Milgram, Stanley


Milgram, Stanley
(1933–1984)
   In 1974, Milgram published Obedience to Authority, the results of a series of experiments in social psychology, in what has come to be known as the “Milgram experiment.” After the disclosure of the horrors of World War II, many wondered, and not for the first time, how human beings could be motivated to commit acts of such brutality toward each other-not just those in the armed forces, but ordinary people who were coerced into carrying out the most cruel and gruesome acts. Stanley Milgram was one of those asking these questions and his subsequent experiments were inspired by the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, from which he sought to comprehend the psychological dynamic that turned ordinary people like Eichmann into perpetrators of mass murder.
   But Milgram did not investigate the extreme situation of war; he wanted to see how people would react under relatively “ordinary” conditions in the laboratory. How would people behave when told to give an electrical shock to another person? To what extent would people obey the dictates of the situation and ignore their own misgivings about what they were doing? Milgram, who taught at Yale University, conducted a series of social psychology experiments that measured the willingness of his participants in the study to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, when Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the question: “Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?” In other words, “Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?”
   Milgram’s testing revealed that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs. This conclusion was based on the experiments where 37 out of 40 participants administered the full range of shocks up to 450 volts, the highest obedience rate Milgram found in his whole series. In this variation, the actual subject did not pull the shock lever; instead, he only conveyed information to the peer (a confederate) who pulled the lever. Thus, according to Milgram, the subject shifts responsibility to another person and does not blame himself for what happens. This resembles real-life incidents in which people see themselves as merely cogs in a wheel, just “doing their job,” allowing them to avoid responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
   See also Arendt, Hannah.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Stanley Milgram — (n. Nueva York, 15 de agosto de 1933 † Nueva York, 20 de diciembre de 1984) fue un psicólogo graduado de la Universidad de Yale que condujo los experimentos del mundo pequeño (la fuente del concepto de los seis grados de separación) y el… …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Milgram — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Arthur Milgram (1912–1960), US amerikanischer Mathematiker R. James Milgram (*1939), US amerikanischer Mathematiker Stanley Milgram (1933–1984), US amerikanischer Psychologe Siehe auch: Milgram Experiment …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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