Ellen Katherine Rothschild
Chapter 9: Social Influence
Obedience to Authority
Stanley Milgram’s study of why and when people obey the commands of someone in authority
• What would happen when if he asked participants to give electric shocks whenever a subject preformed
a task (really a confederate of the experimenter)
• Asurprisingly large percentage of his participants were willing to do something they thought was
hurting another human being, even when there was no group of other participants leading the way.
• “please continue” … “the experiment requires that you continue” … “it is absolutely necessary that you
continue” … “you have no other choice; you must go on”
• people continues to obey the experimenter and to shock the confederate
o 66% of participants continued to deliver to the maximum shock.
• Participants in conflict: compelled to complete the experiment, but also compelled to terminate the
experiment (caused stress)
o Increase the forced compelling them to stop by increasing an awareness of the learners suffering
As the learner became more and more present and “real” the teachers found it
increasingly difficult to deliver the shocks and obedience diminished
The more removed we are from others the easier it is to hurt them.
o Increase the forces compelling them to complete the experiment by having the experimenter
present – physically removing experimenter loses influence
Also diminish experimenters power by altering his authority
Easier to defy him when he is less salient and les of an authority in the participants mind
Making it easier to disobey is more effective then increasing their desire to disobey
No one anticipated the widespread obedience that Milgram found.
• Agroup of psychiatrists predicted that fewer then 1% would deliver the maximum shock
• Almost no one believes, even after hearing the basic results and all the experimental variations, that he
or she would de