Sunday, December 21, 2008

Psychology of Evil - Milgram study

The following is the video of the actual Milgram Study done in the 1960's.

The Milgram Experiment - Obedience 1/5

CNN reports:

If someone told you to press a button to deliver a 450-volt electrical shock to an innocent person in the next room, would you do it?

Common sense may say no, but decades of research suggests otherwise.

In the early 1960s, a young psychologist at Yale began what became one of the most widely recognized experiments in his field. In the first series, he found that about two-thirds of subjects were willing to inflict what they believed were increasingly painful shocks on an innocent person when the experimenter told them to do so, even when the victim screamed and pleaded.

The legacy of Stanley Milgram, who died 24 years ago on December 20, reaches far beyond that initial round of experiments. Researchers have been working on the questions he posed for decades, and have not settled on a brighter vision of human obedience.

A new study to be published in the January issue of American Psychologist confirmed these results in an experiment that mimics many of Milgram's original conditions. This and other studies have corroborated the startling conclusion that the majority of people, when placed in certain kinds of situations, will follow orders, even if those orders entail harming another person.

"It's situations that make ordinary people into evil monsters, and it's situations that make ordinary people into heroes," said Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University and author of "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil." [...]


  1. Zimbardo sounds like a liberal. Denying personal responsibility in favor of blaming environment.

    Judaism's focus on free will isn't really compatible with all that.

    I argued that we are accountable for how we choose to see reality, and thus how it shapes us.see reality, and thus how it shapes us.

  2. Who is Shmuel Z. Eidensohn? What's his connection to RBS?

  3. Yaakov said...

    Who is Shmuel Z. Eidensohn? What's his connection to RBS?

    He is my nephew - and is very much involved in chesed and tzedaka in RBS

  4. @micha.
    I think, as far as this is concerned, Zimbardo and the Torah say exactely the same thing.

    Zimbardo says: as long as you haven't been in the situation, you cannot tell how you would react. The circumstances could make you react in a way you would not have reacted had it not been for the circumstances.

    What does the torah say: Bney Israel just made it out of Egypt, they thought H' was really a great guy, he gave them the 10 commandments - Torah mi sinai - they applauded and promised they would keep it forever, and 40 days later they dance around a golden calf, cast by aharhon ha kohen, declared a deity.

    And there are examples like this over and over in the Torah. That's what Midah keneged Midah is all about: You cheated your father, so your sons will cheat you, so you will see what it is like. (Yaakov-Yitzhak-Beney Yaakov when Yosef was sold)

    I came to the conclusion that "Al tadun et Chavercha ad she tagia limkomo" is one of the basic tenets of the Torah. (But, alas, I am not able to live up to it in my daily life.)


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