Obedience Summary Stanley Milgrams experiments are some of the most recognized behavior experiments in psychology today. Milgrams most known experiment was ‘shocking’ to people and has also been controversial ethically. As Ian Parker stated it would “make his name and destroy his reputation. ” Parkers Obedience essay talks much of Milgrams life before the experiment and how the psychology community thought about his ethics. Parker talks of Milgram struggling to place his findings in a scientific context until he put them in a place to make sense of the Holocaust. While always using the Holocaust as context for his experiments he often compared his work to Adolf Eichmann’s who was put on trial in Jerusalem in 1961. Milgram published his first obedience paper in 1963 where he placed Eichmann’s name in the first paragraph, giving the paper a place in the debate. Milgram argued that ordinary people committed acts in the Holocaust because they were given orders to. Because of this normal American people could commit the acts the Nazis did if they were told to. Once the Holocaust connection was in place the experiments took a larger than life quality,” said leading Milgram scholar Arthur G Miller. Before Milgram could publish his first book about his obedience experiment it found its way onto many medias from the New York Times, Life, ABC television, and the British Press. As the experiment became more celebrated one question continued to come up ‘had Milgram mistreated his subjects? ’ Some psychologists, including Alan Elms and Bruno Bettelheim, think so after some of Milgrams subjects talked about having heart attacks and others talked about joining group therapy after the experiment. Since those reports came about the experiment has been attacked by psychologists and many others. “In Milgrams defiance,” says Parker, “Milgram would always highlight the results of post-experimental studies which never showed any traumatic actions. Milgram could never win the ethics argument which ultimately damaged his career. After leaving Yale for Harvard, Milgram applied for a tenured job and couldn’t get the unanimous support of his colleagues. The American Psychological Association does include Milgrams experiment in a traveling exhibition, but is careful to call it ‘controversial. As the APA points out, “Modern ethics guidelines (which in part were inspired by Milgram) would prevent the obedience studies from being reported today. ” Other than the ethics issues Milgrams experiment has also been put into the category of ‘fake’. Many of the people in the lab seemed to laugh and were ‘unable to contain themselves. ’ Daniel Goldhagen, author of Hitler’s Willing Executioners, has no confidence in the idea that Milgram was studying obedience because, “All variable’s such as trust, or allowing for the way decisions are made in the world—over time, after consultation,” were not controlled correctly. No matter what controversy follows the experiment social psychology is not ready to let Milgram’s experiments go. Professors Lee Ross and Richard Nisbett, from Stanford and the University of Michigan believe that perhaps “people tend to do things because of where they are, not who they are. ” This thought has sparked new ideas of the influence of any situation of behavior, good or bad. Milgram wrote to a friend shortly before his experiments talking of making a bad career move (which proved correctly overtime) and because of that move many think is why he died so early in life at age 51.
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