From psychology, one tries to understand the general rules of human behavior. To achieve this goal, experiments are carried out on a large number of individuals and through the results obtained it is possible to know the main patterns of human conduct. In 1963, American psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experimental investigation to address the issue of obedience to authority. Milgram Experiment
Why was this aspect of human behavior investigated?
The choice of obedience to authority as the central issue had an explanation. Two years earlier, former Nazi Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina by Israel’s secret services and was finally tried before a court that sentenced him to the death penalty. Milgram Experiment
During the trial , Eichmann claimed in his defense that he did not plan Jewish extermination, but that he obeyed the orders of his superiors. In other words, from your point of view, you acted correctly in fulfilling your responsibility. Faced with this reality , Milgram asked a question: would a normal person be able to execute an unknown individual if someone with authority ordered him to?
Those recruited into the experiment were led to believe they were taking part in a study of memory. Thus, there were three participants: a false director of the investigation who exercised authority, a false student who became a victim, and between them was the deceived individual playing the role of teacher who penalizes false student responses. Those who played the role of the deceived teacher were instructed to activate an increasingly high electrical discharge as the student gave the wrong answer (of course, the electrical discharge was also false and the recipient pretended to have increasingly intense seizures). Milgram Experiment
The results of the experiment were as follows: two out of three participants obeyed orders with obedience and were able to provoke painful electrical discharges in their “victim” students. Only a third of participants refused to inflict pain on students.
According to Milgran’s experiment, the common man is potentially a torturer
After analyzing the responses of the participants in the experiment, Stanley Milgram came to the following conclusion: the average human being can commit atrocities simply because he follows certain orders from his superiors. Milgram Experiment
The conclusion of the investigation showed that the crimes committed by the Nazis were not due to an intrinsic evil, but that they could be explained in a simpler way: most individuals are easily manipulated and when they are exercised by an iron authority, they produce inhuman and cruel responses. Milgram Experiment