12 May 2009

On reprising Milgram

I think these replays are only available for a few days, so hurry!

Milgram's "Obedience to Authority" experiments (1973) are part of the canon of classic psychological experiments, but that is not the reason to watch the final quarter-hour of this programme. It's what it is about. Unlike the re-creation of Zimbardo's prison experiment, which worked out very differently in the '90s from the '70s, this account suggests that not much has changed in the susceptibility of people to authoritative influence overriding their personal moral standards. "Suggests". I may have missed it, but much of the potency of the original experiment lay in the stats--in the proportion of people prepared to acquiesce under pressure--rather than in the individual cases, and I don't think we got any of that here. For all I know, they ran the protocol a thousand times to get the few conforming examples shown here...


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