Dr. Stanley Milgram and Social Psychology – History Revisited

Warning:  The third video contains graphic images.

Social Psychology is defined, “…as the scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior and thought to social situations” (Baron, Byrne, and Branscombe, 2006).  Organizing a luncheon with friends and going along (conformity) with the majority of the group’s preferred restaurant; emulating dangerous activities viewed on television (negative conformity); whether co-workers get along, or have conflicts; persuading a potential client to enter a business venture; having the mindset (stereotype) that beautiful people are automatically good people, and comparing ourselves with others to learn if a reality is true (social comparison) are some of the examples and concepts involving social psychology.

Dr. Milgram was a major contributor to Social Psychology, and his work greatly influences the discipline in contemporary society.  You’ll see his famous experiment shortly. Additional information about him and his work can be found right here.

  • Stanley Milgram – Invitation to Social Psychology

Pay close attention to the body language of the young man described in the video before he answers questions, especially the last one.  He may have experienced cognitive dissonance (competing thoughts resulting in psychological distress).

  • Stanley Milgram – Conformity and Independence

How many times over the decades have we emulated behavior in similar fashion?

  • Milgram Obedience Study

And here is Dr. Milgram’s famous experiment.  Before viewing, it has to be noted that no one was harmed in this study.  Dr. Milgram’s contraption emitted no electronic shocks whatsoever.  The experiment was to understand if participants were willing to harm others based on orders of authority.

Commentary

Negative Obedience.  The next time we hear about someone who engaged in deadly activity as part of a gang initiation, teachers complying with orders from the head of a school district to inflate grades, employees jumping into lockstep with their project manager to lie about the dangers of a new product soon to go on the market, and other related items we hear about in the media these days, we can remember Dr. Milgram showed us that some people will comply in behaviors which goes against conscience and societal mores.

Reference

Baron, R. A., Byrne, D., & Branscombe, N. R. (2006). Social Psychology. (11th ed.). MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Vikki

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