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Discussion on Milgram Experiment - Paper Example

Date:  2021-06-24 01:31:08
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a. Purpose and the objectives of this experiment

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Milgram experiment on the obedience to authority involved a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale University. On a wider note, Milgram was interested in researching to what extent people would respond or go to obeying instructions given by their superiors when such instructions involve harming other people.

Were the researchers hoping to find out, identify or achieve in this experiment

Fundamentally, Milgram examined the justifications for the acts of genocide as given by the individuals who accused at the World War II Nuremberg War Criminals trials (Milgram, 2009). The majority of the accused defended their acts based on the obedience, and that they just followed orders given by their seniors. Regarding this case, Milgram wanted to investigate the obedience of the Germans to their authority figures was it was a common and major explanation for the Nazi killings in the World War II. To achieve the objective of his study, he selected his studys participants through a newspaper advertisement for male participants to involve themselves at the Yale University.

Were they achieved? Explain why or why not?

About the findings, Milgram found that the ordinary people were likely to obey the instructions provided by their superiors or the authority figures, even as far as killing an innocent human being. According to Milgram, the obedience to authority is ingrained within everybody beginning from the manner in which people are brought up. Milgram found that different people will tend to obey orders from others when they acknowledge that their authorities are legally and morally based. Fascinatingly, the responses and obedience to authority were constituted by the elements learned in various environments such as within the family, learning institutions and in the workplace (Passini and Morselli, 2009). Milgram was able to achieve this objective because the world needed the explanations for Nazis killing in the World War II. In this sense, therefore, many people were willing to participate, and this stimulated the success of the study.


How does or does not this study reflect ethics in research?

Ethical issues have formed the natural component of todays research and experiments. Milgrams research was tremendously controversial based on the stress it put on its participants. A considerable number of psychologists have raised the issues of research ethics about Milgrams experiment, purporting the study could not have put the subjects into the experience they were put. In his 1963, Milgram made it sound that the experiment was traumatic. Usually, the research and experiments that involve human subjects should avoid any parameters, action, and procedures which may other promote injury, discomfort, or any other psychological effects to the subjects.

Do you feel that the research adhered to established ethical standards? Why or why not?

Milgrams study did not adhere to any ethical issues related to the use of the human subjects as the participants. It portrayed various unethical issues such as deception, failure to protect the participants and the denying the participants right of withdrawal.

About deception, the participants were deceived that they were shocking a real person and thus were completely not aware that the learner was Milgrams confederate. In his argument, Milgram offered the argument to support the actions in his experiment by asserting that the illusion can be used when the researcher wishes to change the platform for revealing some truths which are difficult to get. With the aim of determining the influence of deception in the study, Milgram conducted an interview afterward to find out the effects of deception. Perhaps 83.7 percent said that they were glad to participate in the experiment. Only 1.3 mentioned that they wished they had not been engaged in the experiment.

Other than deception, the exposure of the participants to the extremely stressful conditions had a high potentiality to lead to psychological harm. It is evident that majority of the participants were tremendously and observably distressed by these conditions. For instance, many critics have recorded that there were considerable signs of trembling, sweating, biting lips and laughing uncontrollably and nervously. For instance, three subjects seizure tremendously and pleaded to stop engaging in the experiment. However, to defend his actions, Milgram argued that these influences and effects were short term and only lasted a few minutes later.

Also, he interviewed his participants one year after experiment and later made a conclusion that the participants were happy to take part in the study. Finally, the participants denial of their rights to stop participating in the experiment dominated the research. Milgram did not give the participants chances to stop participating as the experimenter only offered four verbal prods which essentially discouraged any withdrawal from the study. These verbal prods included please continue, the experiments need you to continue, it is important that you continue, you have no choice but continue.

Do you feel that a study like this should have been allowed? Why/why not

In my opinion, I feel that the study should have been allowed for two major reasons. The experiment was conducted when the world was eager to know the reasons and the factors that influenced the Nazi Killings during the WWII. The majority of the accused defended their acts based on the obedience, and that they just followed orders given by their seniors. Regarding this case, Milgram wanted to investigate the obedience of the Germans to their authority figures was it was a common and major explanation for the Nazi killings in the World War II. It was only through this experiment that the atrocities could be unmasked. Secondly, while the experiment sounded detrimental to the participants, an afterwards-interview on the participants showed that majority were happy and were glad for having participated in the research (Kantowitz, Roediger, & Elmes, 2009). Based on the fact that there were no injuries or any other major effects on the subjects, I think it should have been allowed.


Discuss what you feel are the best psychological explanations for why we/anyone conforms/obeys in the real world

Fundamentally, obedience and how it can be understood hard to explain. Various psychological theories have emerged to offer different explanations on why some people would obey or conform to their real world. In my opinion, I feel that the Authoritarian Personality Theory of Adorno tremendously explained this relationship and concept. According to Adorno, the individual personality could influence the level of conformity and the attitude towards an authority figure. On a wider note, Adorno found that strong character traits exposed some people to conform and become sensitive to authoritarian and anti-democratic ideas highly (Stone, Lederer, & Christie, 2012).

b). Discuss why participants in this particular study obeyed the researcher

In my opinion, this conformity and obedience came as a result of the use of different prods in the experiment. As mentioned earlier, Milgram did not give the participants chances to withdraw as the experimenter only offered four verbal prods which mostly discouraged any withdrawal from the study. In this way, therefore, the subjects continued with to engage themselves in the experiment even if they were distressed. Also, the experimenter represented an authority figure, by putting on a white coat and giving the instructions.


a. Is obedience to societal norms and expectations always necessary or beneficial?

In my opinion, the societal norms are the rules of the society that guides the extent to which a particular action can be deemed appropriate regarding the attitudes, beliefs, and the behavior. It is, therefore, important to comply, and conform to them as any failure to do so could lead to punishment. Societal norms provide direction for individuals within the society, and therefore, it is important for them to be obeyed.

b. Is deviance away from societal norms and expectations always detrimental? Explain.

No. Deviance from the societal norms and expectations is not always harmful. In some circumstances, however, such deviance may lead to substantial punishment or even death. In the Muslim societies, for example, people are not supposed to engage in adultery or any other related activities. It means that any attempt to involve in these activities may amount to heavy punishment, usually by death. Other kinds of deviance are not detrimental, for example, a may decide to deviate from his societal norms through things such as clothing, body piercing and changing religious beliefs. In most cases, the actions will be classified wrong but not punished.


Explain the impact of the influence of others on decision making and thinking patterns. Explain why.

It is evident that individuals can influence the decisions made by others. Usually, the attitudes and related factors play an integral role in enhancing the relationships between these actions. Besides, an individual personality could influence the level of conformity and the attitude towards another may make them feel that the instructor or any authority figures are right and should and therefore their influences are good.


Kantowitz, B. H., Roediger, H. L., & Elmes, D. G. (2009). Experimental psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Milgram, S. (2009). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York: Harper Perennial, Modern Thought.

Passini, S., & Morselli, D. (2009). Authority relationships between obedience and disobedience. New Ideas in Psychology, 27(1), 96-106.

Stone, W. F., Lederer, G., & Christie, R. (Eds.). (2012). Strength and weakness: The authoritarian personality today. Springer Science & Business Media.

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