Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm

Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm

Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm

Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm

Synopsis

Stanley Milgram's experiments on obedience to authority are among the most important psychological studies of this century. Perhaps because of the enduring significance of the findings--the surprising ease with which ordinary persons can be commanded to act destructively against an innocent individual by a legitimate authority--it continues to claim the attention of psychologists and other social scientists, as well as the general public. The study continues to inspire valuable research and analysis. The goal of this book is to present current work inspired by the obedience paradigm.

This book demonstrates the vibrancy of the obedience paradigm by presenting some of its most important and stimulating contemporary uses and applications. Paralleling Milgram's own eclecticism in the content and style of his research and writing, the contributions comprise a potpourri of styles of research and presentation--ranging from personal narratives, through conceptual analyses, to randomized experiments.

Excerpt

One of the most important and widely known research programs of our times is Stanley Milgram's work on obedience to authority. Although conducted in the early 1960s, its revelatory power -- showing the ease with which ordinary people can be induced by a legitimate authority to act with extraordinary cruelty against an innocent victim -- shows no signs of weakening. In fact, what is remarkable about the obedience experiments is just how large and wide their domain of relevance is. Thus one can find discussions of the experiments in publications in disciplines as wide ranging as business ethics, philosophy, nursing, and law -- in addition to publications in psychology, of course.

The aim of this book is to demonstrate the vibrancy of the obedience paradigm by presenting to readers a variety of its most important and stimulating contemporary uses and applications. Paralleling Milgram's own eclecticism in the content and style of his research and writing, the contributions comprise a potpourri of styles of research and presentation, ranging from personal narratives, through conceptual analyses, to randomized experiments.

The first three chapters set the stage for the rest, which are grounded in various ways in the obedience research. Although approaching their subject matter from different perspectives, these first chapters paint verbal portraits of the person behind the obedience experiments. This manner of beginning the book is based on the premise that coming to know Stanley Milgram, the human being, can contribute to a fuller understanding of Stanley Milgram, the scientist, and his most famous work and its sequelae.

As Stanley Milgram's wife (and, therefore, unparalleled authority on his life), Alexandra Milgram brings a unique perspective to the book's . . .

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