Stanley Milgram

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Category: Societal Issues

Date Submitted: 04/13/2013 01:01 AM

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In chapter two Newman briefly goes over Stanley Milgram’s study on obedience to authority. In class, the experiment was shown and I got a better sense of what actually occurred in the experiment. The study clearly illustrates one’s social influence. Many of the subjects that took part in the experiments only listened to authority until they realized that they might be physically hurting the other subject. I can see why the subject would have that immediate reaction to want to stop. The truth is, for the most part, society does not enjoy hurting others much less innocent people.

An example of social obedience that ties in with this experiment would be the way society obeys law enforcement. Society views law enforcement as a higher status than a civilian. Therefore, people are more likely to obey this type of higher authority. For instance when a police officer orders for everyone out of a car in order to search it, but doesn’t have any probable cause to do so he is violating their rights. Let’s say all but one passenger in the car knows their rights and decides to speak up. That passenger is stepping up because they know for a fact that what the officer is doing is wrong. People will abide by officer’s orders only because of the uniforms and the authority they carry. People expect police officers to steer in the right directions because of social expectations and that is what makes them follow officer’s directions. However, in this situation the passenger knew the higher authorities actions were wrong and demanded a stop.

As you can see, people are likely to obey someone based on the way they present themselves or by what they are wearing such as a uniform. It is only at a certain point when people will react in a situation. In Milgram’s study the “Teacher” demanded the person in the lab coat to stop the experiment being held. In the cop example the passenger knew his rights were being violated and chose to speak up.