The experiment showed that obedience to authority was the norm, not the exception. Regarding obedience, Milgram said that “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 obedience to god pdf forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others. Although other fields have studied obedience, social psychology has been primarily responsible for the advancement of research on obedience.
It has been studied experimentally in several different ways. In the experiment, subjects were told they were going to take part in a study of the effects of punishment on learning. In reality, the experiment focuses on people’s willingness to obey malevolent authority. Each subject served as a teacher of associations between arbitrary pairs of words. Teachers were told to give the “learner” electric shocks of increasing severity for each wrong answer. Subjects were told to ignore the agonized screams of the learner, his desire to be untied and stop the experiment, and his pleas that his life was at risk and that he suffered from a heart condition. The experiment, the “researcher” insisted, had to go on.
The experimental setting was made to physically resemble a prison while simultaneously inducing “a psychological state of imprisonment”. The Milgram study found that most participants would obey orders even when obedience posed severe harm to others. 3 of the subjects carried the procedure to its bitter end, fully realizing that they were posing a serious threat to the life and well being of the “learner. This result was surprising to Milgram because he thought that “subjects have learned from childhood that it is a fundamental breach of moral conduct to hurt another person against his will”. Zimbardo obtained similar results as the guards in the study obeyed orders and turned aggressive. Prisoners likewise were hostile to and resented their guards. The cruelty of the “guards” and the consequent stress of the “prisoners,” forced Zimbardo to terminate the experiment prematurely, after 6 days.
The previous two studies greatly influenced how modern psychologists think about obedience. Milgram’s study in particular generated a large response from the psychology community. In a modern study, Jerry Burger replicated Milgram’s method with a few alterations. In the modeled refusal condition, two confederates were used, where one confederate acted as the learner and the other was the teacher.
The teacher stopped after going up to 90 volts, and the participant was asked to continue where the confederate left off. This methodology was considered more ethical because many of the adverse psychological effects seen in previous studies’ participants occurred after moving past 150 volts. Additionally, since Milgram’s study only used men, Burger tried to determine if there were differences between genders in his study and randomly assigned equal numbers of men and women to the experimental conditions. Using data from his previous study, Burger probed participant’s thoughts about obedience. Participants’ comments from the previous study were coded for the number of times they mentioned “personal responsibility and the learner’s well being”.