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By: Emad EMAM- April 2012
The university of Liverpool – Department of Applied Psychology
We always struggle when it comes to
understanding the causes behind immoral
actions when almost ordinary people do
them. In that sense, the paradigm of
authority and obedience was the focus of
many psychologists in order to comprehend
why ordinary people misconduct in an
extreme way. So far, People are boiled with
curiosity to know the answer of questions
like: How people could use authority to
cause severe harm for others? To which
extent is a man ready to torture any other
body just to follow orders?

Genuine Violence:
Since the early ages of humanity,
world witnessed huge number of massacres
that still questionable by everybody. Among
many, humanity will never forget the
genocide for millions of people committed
by Adolf Hitler and his loyalists before and
during the World War II, adding to this the
genocidal mass slaughter in Rwanda in 1994
that murdered around 20%1 of the total
population of the country at that time.
Moreover, few years ago people woke up

one day to see the photos of American
soldiers smiling while torturing Iraqi
prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which was
horrifying. Some of the soldiers defended
themselves by claiming they were just doing
what their superiors had instructed, but the
smiling faces in the photos seemed to imply
that they followed the orders without
Accordingly, in the study of
violence committed by human beings in
actual situations not an experiment, the
experiment seemingly is less terrifying. And
the question showing up is: Do we gain very
much from a simulated artificially provoked
glimpse of inhumanity when there are so
many genuine historical precedents on
which to draw?” (Blass, 2004, p. 296).

Experimental Violence:
The experiment has shown that a
group of volunteers are ready to follow and
obey orders even by torturing others.
Observantly, those 40 persons/ Subjects
(Ss) who exceeded the 300 volts (Shock


1 Des  Forges,  Alison  (1999).  Leave  No  One  to  Tell  the  Story:  


Genocide  in  Rwanda.  Human  Rights  Watch.retirved  from­‐3-­‐




Basic  Instincts:  The  Science  of  Evil  -­‐  By  CAROLINE  BORGE  ,  Jan.  3,  

2007    (  )


ebscohost. And thus. their ability to selfmonitor disappears. the absolutely not accurate predictions of psychologists for the behavior of the Ss before the experiment.  S. Conclusion In brief. Individuals who have recently joined the army are brought to an isolated place in harsh living conditions. Financial wise. Understanding violence in the light of both experiment and genuine: Historically. also they were not under pressure of thread or seduction from a repressive power over them.V. They get to learn the concept of enemy and absorb the concept of “loyalty”.uk/login.   Ss. the contextual surroundings were very motivating for the                                                                                                                           3Milgram. they didn’t suffer from any mental disease such as sadism.aspx?di rect=true&db=pdh&AN=abn-­‐67-­‐4-­‐371&site=ehost-­‐ live&scope=site   4  Week  3  Weekly  Notes:  Foundations  of  Psychology  perspective     in  applied  psychology  -­‐  Laureate  Online  Education  B. spontaneously and without noticing how they get drifted with this authority. Despite.67(4). as it helped the Ss to understand that everything is ready and this is worth a try. the place setup was supportive. Identifying a cause (Learning and punishment research) and having the experimenter with such impassive features are basically the major supporters for Ss to exceed all the predictions. The cause of defending the homeland is getting cemented inside their hearts and minds.Level)3 were just volunteers neither ideologists nor politicians. The experiment reflects the readiness of people to be easily. Adding to this the strong cause and motives. They were totally ordinary people with no significant seemingly interest for that action. the environment counts in terms of transgressing those predictions. humiliation from a previous World War.  (1963). and the influence of a charismatic. While for Milgram experiment. they took a very few amount of money.  Retrieved   from ordinary person who kills another person for the sake of defending his smoothly. Also. For example. in the case of Holocaust. Therefore. why people joining army have to stay in closed camps? Military sciences have developed a certain method to make fighter .liv. the power “within” each person (Individual) is as important as exactly as the power with the group (environment) in building such behavior. authority leads people  Behavioral  study  of  obedience. regarding all the massacre of humanity disasters there were strong causes lie behind them. smoothly and irresistibly controlled over and violate others’ rights just for a set of claimed motives. authoritative figure4. Moreover.  Journal  of   Abnormal  and  Social  Psychology. They are kept far from the normal community and what is acceptable there. For instance.  371–378. so people . And that rationalizes the black history of human since he was created/ found on earth. psychologists viewed the problem from a situational approach based on contextual factors such as massive poverty.

But at least we are puppets with perception. And perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation.eventually stay sure that they work for a cause (the ends justify the means) and their actions will never be exposed to their conscience court. 1) the individual motives “I” and 2) the effects of environment and context “we”. It may be that we are puppetspuppets controlled by the strings of society. 1974b. (Milgram. 568) . with awareness. So people’s attitudes and behaviors are based on two main variables. p.

New Haven. 5. 1963. V. 67:371-8. (1998). Blass.REFERENCES: Milgram’s obedience to authority experiments: Origins and early evolution (2004). H. Psychol. pp. Winston & Son. New York: Basic Books. CT] This Week’s Citation Classic MARCH 2. Milgram S. Journal of Social Psychology (2011). Inc. CA: Sage Publications. 29. D. [Yale University. Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 1981 CC/NUMBER 9 Video Open source. 50. T.P 140-161 Adams. & Balfour. Abnormal Soc. Thousand Oaks. J. Unmasking bureaucratic evil. 140–162-P. The man who shocked the world: the life and legacy of Stanley Milgram. 1999. T. Milgram Experiment on YouTube (www. The Milgram Paradigm After 35 Years: Some Things We Now Know About Obedience to Authority. B. 955-978. G. ) . Blass.