Milgram …. bovvered?

A clip from the classic obedience studies conducted by Stanley Milgram. If you haven’t studied this experiment already on your psychology course, you can pretty much guarantee that you will at some point.

The studies are controversial because of ethical concerns: Did Milgram do enough to look after his participants? The conventional argument is no, he did not, mainly because he deceived his participants and this was morally wrong. He didn’t tell them what the study was about, they thought they’d harmed someone and so on….

But there’s another point of view that says something along the lines of :‘Y’know what?, maybe this is something psychological thinkers and writers worry about, whereas the people actually involved in the studies really aren’t that bothered. In fact, if anything they enjoy being deceived and feel they learn more from such studies’…

What do you think?

0 thoughts on “Milgram …. bovvered?

  1. Adrian Frost says:

    Personally, I’ve always thought that I could maybe put up with being deceived and that yes, it would be a pretty unpleasant afternoon…. but that would pass… the real long-term ‘hurt’ would come from knowing that, hey, maybe I was the sort of person who would kill someone just because a stranger told me to… we all like to think we’d be one of the guys who gave back the four dollars and left without pressing a button – but then again…….

  2. Milgram did deceive the participants about the purpose of the experiment and the fact that the shocks weren’t real but the BPS guidelines suggest that informed consent concerns giving participants information that allows them to be able to decide whether to participate. Milgram’s participants knew the key information – that they were going to be giving electric shocks for a trivial task. The bit of the experiment was stressful was clear to them. So … where’s the harm? Aronson takes the view that people are actually quite robust (psychologically) and can cope with such things.

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