Milgram experiment and Asch's experiment

One of the most famous psychological experiments with, for me, very disturbing results and implications. In Milgram experiment, participants were instructed to ask other participants series of questions. If "student" reply was wrong, they were instructed to administer an electric shock. This experiment was to test how many people are willing to knowingly push a switch causing someone a pain or even endanger their life - simply because an authority told them to.

I really recommend to read the full Wikipedia article about this experiment, this is just a brief description.

Of course, no real danger is present, but participants do not know that. We must assume that the behaviour they show is similar to how they would react in real life. And the thought is quite scary.

When Milgram asked his coleagues, experienced psychologists, how many percent of participants will administer the lethal shock (450 V), they estimated noone would ever do that. In reality, more than 60 % of participant did. Two thirds of people were knowingly causing a threat of death just because an unknown authority told them so.

Many variants of this experiment in 1961 and following years showed that this was not a random behavior, but rather significant phenomenon - people are tought since their childhood to follow authorities' orders, even if they seem strange. They don't feel like decision-making people then, but rather they think of themselves as mere tools.


No comments: