The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps That Every One of Us Falls Prey To

By Robert Hoyk; Paul Hersey | Go to book overview
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TRAP 1:
OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY

AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR, scientists were driven to understand the insanity of the holocaust. Citizens of Germany had committed immoral acts, torture and murder, against millions of human beings. How could normal people behave so atrociously? In 1960, Stanley Milgram at Yale University was one of the researchers who wanted to understand how such a horror could ever happen.

IMAGINE. You’ve volunteered to be a subject in a scientific experiment. You’ve read an ad in the local newspaper that a professor at Yale University is conducting an experiment and needs subjects. The experiment has to do with learning and memory. You’ll be compensated $4.50 for an hour of participation. In 1960, $4.50 had much more value than it does today. You’re a high school teacher just out of college. You have an interest in psychology so you decide to sign up.

You’re scheduled to participate in the experiment on a Saturday morning. You have a little trouble finding the laboratory on the campus of Yale, but you make it on time. You meet with a professor of psychology, Dr. Milgram, who is wearing a gray laboratory coat. Dr. Milgram introduces you to Mr. Mccourt, another subject who has also volunteered. Mr. Mccourt is softspoken and has an Irish accent. With a lively smile, he gives you a firm handshake. It is only later, after the experiment is finished, that you will be told that Mr. Mccourt is actually an accomplice, a professional actor, someone trained for the

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