Saturday, January 8, 2011

Milgram's obedience experiment

Milgram's obedience experiment was by far one of the most interesting experiments in Social Psychology, showing that perfectly normal human beings are capable of extremely destructive behaviour if they are ordered so by an authoritarian figure ( The experiment could thus explain for example, how the Nazis or Hutus could have gone through such systematic and cruel genocidal deeds.

I have no free will.

Authorities are everywhere. We follow them quite automatically, simply trusting that they are right. How other could they be in such a position if they weren't, right? This is what most people think. That to hold an authoritarian position is the cause of being rightful. Simple logic however, proves this to be wrong. Popularity and dominance are not risen from rightfulness, but of one's skills to maintain a high status. Like the time the school bully stole your lunch money and/or your bike and/or your books and returned them the next day in an unnervingly useless condition (save for the money), and nobody could stop him.

The school bully, pictured. Tribute to

He didn't gain his power through morally rightful behaviour, in fact quite the opposite. Now, would you trust him to be right if he were running for a political candidate or not? I don't know, depends on his opinions, right? Right. What?

Referring to Social Psychology, a textbook by R. A. Baron et co. people are more likely to submiss to destructive obedience when they are not responsible for their actions, the authoritarian figure possesses symbols of power (insignia, titles), the severity of the demanded actions is gradually risen, and when the orders come in a fast pace so that the capability of systematic thought is decreased.

The point is, authoritarian figures shouldn't be followed in crucial decisions without thinking by yourself. You may presume that they don't lie to you, say, about the color of the sky or the nuclear warheads (sarcasm), but you should keep your eyes open; or rather, your brain active (sarcasm).

In conclusion, we have seen what a blind trust of the authorities may lead to and what are the causes of it. We are all humans, and thus vulnerable to the traps of our own behaviour. Nevertheless, by raising the awareness of our weaknesses, we might be able to counter the most obvious falsehoods.

Never stop thinking.


  1. The wave of blind following is way behind us. There almost no following at all nowadays

  2. Fortunately so. But people don't change in principle, making it still possible to have social catastrophes based on obedience.

  3. Wow, one of the most thought-provoking things I've read in quite some time.
    Keep up the good work mate!~

  4. Don't do what others tell you, do what you tell yourself after weighing the advice of others based on past experience and knowledge.

  5. brilliant experiment. keep posting, I'd love to see more content and psychology always peaks my interest :)

  6. wow nice cool stuff
    check me out