People Aren’t so Disobedient, After All

On an earlier post, I mentioned that I had enrolled in a Social Psychology course online. It goes well, (in case you’re curious) but the serious thing is that I had to watch a video of a renowned experiment in Social Psychology conducted by Dr Stanley Milgram on our obedience to authority figures. I know it sounds dull, and trust me, the twenty-minute experiment video was duller. But the result and the after effect were shocking. I really cannot embed the video for your viewership, but I can share the results with you which will surely test your belief of your obedience, as it did mine.

This experiment related to why people obey and do what they are asked. Obedience to authority is common, every where. It happens; people obey. Even when they are directed to consciously hurt someone else, they’ll do it. That, is shocking, and that is the result of Dr Milgram’s experiment.

The experiment asked unsuspecting people (subjects) to administer shocks of various voltage levels to a gentleman; (who was in his fifties and had a heart problem) everyone did it. Some discontinued halfway through, and others (due to continuous persistence of the experimenter) continued to shock the gentleman. (despite his protests) The experiment was conducted in 1961.

Now, you might have thought, like I did, that that was ages ago and that people nowadays are much more disobedient. Not true. Sadly.

A recent, similar experiment revealed the exact result.

The knowledge was depressing. I felt so uneasy when I saw it happen myself. But later, I realized that I should have expected it. I live in a society that loves to disobey rules explicitly, but obeys authority implicitly. It’s so obvious; from childhood, children are taught to unquestioningly obey their parents. That’s not wrong; instead, what I like to imply is that parents, teachers and the society as a whole, does hardly allow children to question their beliefs and habits. Children should be able to reason their beliefs. Blind obedience can harm, not only the obedient person, but also those around him.

PS – In the Milgram experiment, the fifty year-old gentleman was not really electrocuted. It is just what the experimenters wanted the subjects to think.


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