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Experiment on Obedience: Milligram’s and Zimbardo’s Study Essay (Article)

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Updated: Mar 25th, 2021

What do you think were the key, general lessons in

Milligram’s study

The lessons learned from Milligram’s experiment can be listed as follows: most people abide by the laws or rules when they are forced by circumstances; people obey instructions because they are afraid of the repercussions of not being obedient to their superiors, and lastly, obedience is said to be a reaction by someone, basically working collaboratively with those in power even if abiding by the norms is contrary to a person’s conscience (Milgram, 1974).

Zimbardo’s study

The lessons that can be learned from the experiment are as follows; human beings can be turned into becoming sadists by evil minds; obedience is a prerogative of the subject; the abuse of human rights can result in rebellion; lifelong harassment in prison cells is dehumanizing and humiliating to the prisoners and can lead to psychological and emotional harm of the inmates; and finally, prison cells can lead to the mental torture of both the inmates and even the prison wardens. This is true with respect to the kind of treatment the guards accord their prisoners when they are fatigued or bored at night (Zimbardo et al. 2000).

What were your general reactions to studies that you read about? That is, did you find them interesting, fascinating, not applicable?

General reactions to the studies. In my opinion, the studies are fascinating. They are interested in the sense that the subjects of experiments volunteered to participate in the research, but at the end of the day, they appear to be tormented by what was happening. In Zimbardo’s study, the ‘prisoners’ appear to have forgotten that it is a mere psychological experiment and are said to believe it is a real prison. A good example is prisoner # 8612, who endured psychological harm and started crying, claiming he was ill and demanded to be freed from prison. He even went further to curse the officials when he was denied a release order on the account that he was pretending.

This makes him behave madly until finally he is released. It is also interesting to see how people can just become sadists and start abusing others the way the prison guards were humiliating the prisoners. In short, both studies appear interesting, but to some extent, they can be frightening to the subjects of the experiments. For example, in Milligram’s study, some teachers appeared reluctant to proceed with the study. Ethically, a study shouldn’t harm human beings psychologically.

In Milgram study, why did the participants (“teachers”) continue to shock the “learner”? Try to identify (i.e., in bullet points) as many potential factors that contributed to his actions

The reasons for the teachers obeying the command can be varied. The following are the reasons why the teachers continued to shock the learner;

  • They were obliged to be obedient to the experimenter -cooperating in the study.
  • They thought the learner was foolish, and therefore, he needed to be shocked.
  • They believed that it was not their fault even if something terrible happened to the learner, as the blame was to be directed to the experimenter who directed it.
  • They were afraid to confront those in authority, though; they knew it was against their wish to inflict pain on the learner bearing in mind the magnitude of the pain.
  • They feared ridicule from their fellow colleagues for failing to shock learners.
  • They believed it was going to enhancing the learning ability of the learners.

In Milgram study, if you were assigned a role of a teacher, what would you do?

In Milgram’s study, if you were assigned the role of a teacher, I would challenge the nature of the punishments to the learners. This kind of pain can even impair the learner. Also, ethically, any research conducted on humans should not inflict any physical, emotional, or psychological harm to them. In milligram’s experiment, it appears the subjects of the experiment are being injured. In other words, I would immediately withdraw from participating in the study, having learned my roles as a teacher. Furthermore, it can continue to torture somebody when you imagine performing such a dreadful act. For purposes of safeguarding your job and sometimes, as the rules stipulate, I am obliged to obey. In a nutshell, I would obey the rules and inflict shock.

In Zimbardo study, if you were a guard, what kind of guard would you become? If you were a prisoner, what kind of a prisoner would you become?

In Zimbardo’s study, if I were a guard, I would fall in the first category of guards -who are tough and fair who abide by the prison rules. This can help to eradicate animosity among the prisoners by not showing favouritism. On the other hand, if we’re a prisoner, I would become a good prisoner, obeying everything the guards expect me to be doing as an inmate. This can save me the wrath of the brutality of the inhumane guards and any other form of harassment that comes with failure to obey the commands. It can also help me to get favours from the guards who can afford privileges.

In Zimbardo study, why did some guards become so strict?

In Zimbardo’s study, some guards became so strict because of the wayward behavior of the prisoners on the second day when a rebellion broke out. The inmates’ deeds of refusing to tie stocking caps, removal of their ID, and confining themselves in jail by blocking the entrance using beds angered guards. The wardens were so much annoyed and disturbed that they started to humiliate prisoners (Zimbardo et al. 2000).

References

Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. New York: The FreePre ss. Web.

Zimbardo, P. G., Maslach, C., & Haney, C. (2000). Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, transformations, consequences. In T. Blass (Ed.). Obedience to authority Current Perspectives on the Milgram paradigm (pp.193-237). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Experiment on Obedience: Milligram's and Zimbardo's Study." March 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/experiment-on-obedience-milligrams-and-zimbardos-study/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Experiment on Obedience: Milligram's and Zimbardo's Study." March 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/experiment-on-obedience-milligrams-and-zimbardos-study/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Experiment on Obedience: Milligram's and Zimbardo's Study'. 25 March.

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