Essay about Stanley Milgram’s Behavioral Study of Obedience

Essay about Stanley Milgram’s Behavioral Study of Obedience

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“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....”
― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
― Henry David Thoreau

In the early 1960’s Stanley Milgram (1963) performed an experiment titled Behavioral Study of Obedience to measure compliance levels of test subjects prompted to administer punishment to learners. The experiment had surprising results.

Purpose of the research.
Stanley Milgram’s (1963), Behavioral Study of Obedience measured how far an ordinary subject will go beyond their fundamental moral character to comply with direction from authority to punish another person, and at what point would they refuse to obey and end their participation.

The subjects and methods used.
Forty ordinary male citizens of New Haven and the surrounding New England areas-representing several occupations, ranging in the ages of twenty to fifty years old, were solicited and recruited under the premise of participating in a study of “memory and learning”. Each subject was compensated $4.50 for participating, and told that the payment was for their attendance to the Yale University laboratory, and no matter what the outcome the payment was theirs to keep. The controlled assignments were an experimenter/authority figure, portrayed by an impassive, somewhat stern thirty-one year old male, and the victim portrayed by a mild-mannered, likeable forty-seven year old male. Through rigged drawings, the uncontrolled assignments or subjects were always selected as teachers (Milgram, 1963).

To justify administration of electrical punishment the subjects wer...

... middle of paper ...

...s many benefits, and when properly used can maintain order, develop good habits, build strong moral character and encourage positive behavior.

Works Cited

Mankiewicz, J. (2009, July 25). Kidnapped Heiress: The Patty Hearst Story. Web. 28 May 2015.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), 371 - 378. Web. 3 June 2015.

Obedience. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved from website:

Thoreau, H.D. (1849). Civil disobedience - part 2 of 3. Web. 1 June 2015.

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