Would you willingly hurt someone,if someone in authority told you to?

experiment

I have already done a piece on the Milgram experiments, and this will be more of a follow up.

The Milgram experiment,was designed to observe the extent to which individuals would perform acts that violated their personal conscience when under orders from an authority figure. Basically they wanted  to investigate whether Germans were particularly obedient to authority figures as this was a common explanation for the Nazi killings in World War II.

What they found out was shocking. It more or less proved that given a certain set of circumstances the Holocaust could have happened anywhere.

The experiment was set up in the following way  a scientist” an authoritative figure”— ordered participants to ask another individual a series of questions and administer increasingly painful electric shocks for every wrong answer. The intensity of the shocks started at a level of mild pain when the experiment began but could be built up to lethal doses of electricity as the experiment continued. Not know to the participant, the setup was fake.

“The experiment requires that you continue. It is absolutely essential that you continue. You have no other choice, you must go on.” was the order given to participants.

The experiment started in 1961 and conclude in 1963.

50 years later actor/director Eli Roth repeated the experiment for a documentary on Discovery Channel titles “How evil are you” Trying to find out how people would react nowadays, knowing whet we know now.

This is the real shocking thing ,in 1963 ,65% of the participants continued with the task put do them, knowing that it could actually kill the other participant.

In 2013 the percentage rose to 77%.

 

So the answer to the question ‘Would you willingly hurt someone,if someone in authority told you to?’ would probably be Yes.

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The Milgram experiment

milgram

One question that puzzles many people around the world is how was it possible that a sophisticated nation like Germany could be responsible for something is horrific as the Holocaust?

The scary and the brutal reality is that is was extremely easy. Another reality is that this could have happened anywhere else.

Someone once told me that it must have taken decades to turn people from law abiding citizens to either monsters or bystanders. I told her that it doesn’t take decades to condition people to commit evil, it only takes a few days.

Prime examples are the third wave experiment ,conducted by California high school history teacher Ron Jones to explain Nazi Germany. Another example is the Stanford prison experiment, conducted by a psychology study group led by Dr.Philip Zimbardo, at Stanford University. The  experiment attempted to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, focusing on the struggle between prisoners and prison officers.

Both experiments had to be abandoned after less then a week because they basically had become to successful. The key was the aforementioned law abiding citizens, fact is that people follow authority do what they are told and when this happens without any critical thinking or asking questions it is extremely easy to create a genocide.

The 2 experiments mentioned above both had students mistreating other students and even though it created  groups that perceived themselves superior to their fellow students which led to some skirmishes , there was relatively little violence.

The Milgram experiment however went a step further.

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Inspired by defense testimonies during the Nuremberg trials and especially the Adolf Eichmann trial, where it was claimed that ‘they were merely following orders” Stanley Milgram wanted to see how far people would go in obeying an instruction if it involved harming another person, and he was was interested to see how easily ordinary people could be influenced into committing atrocities.

eichmann

 

Three men took part in each session of the experiment:

  • The “experimenter”
  • The “teacher”
  • The “learner”,

 

At the start of the experiment, they were introduced to another participant, who was a confederate of the experimenter (Milgram).

They drew straws to determine their roles – learner or teacher – however this was fixed and the confederate was always the learner. There was also an “experimenter” dressed in a gray lab coat, played by an actor (not Milgram).

In total there  were 40 male participants , aged between 20 and 50, whose jobs ranged from unskilled to professional, from the New Haven area.They would all be paid $4 an hour + 50 cents car fare.

Two participants (one actor) were separated in two rooms where they could only hear each other.

The test subject then read a series of questions to the actor. Each time the actor would answer a question incorrectly, the test subject would push a button that administered an electric shock to the actor(In reality, there were no shocks)with shock levels starting at 30 volts and increasing in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450 volts.

shock

Although many of the test subjects expressed a desire to stop the experiment at the first signs of screams, nearly every single one continued to push the button when they were told they would not personally be held responsible for any consequences.

65%  of the participants (i.e., teachers) continued to the highest level of 450 volts. All the participants continued to 300 volts.

The experiment did show that tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or as legally based.

Killing human beings though has a complete different mindset, however these experiments do show how easy it is for people to become complacent and even complicit in unspeakable crimes if it is ordered by an authoritative body whose morals  motives aren’t questioned but just assumed to be right.

milgranm 2

 

The inconvenient truth is that despite all historical evidence,genocides still happen, not to the same scale as the Holocaust, but genocides are still a reality in the 21st century.

genocide

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Simplypsychology.org

verywellmind.com