en-es  Good People, Evil Actions.
Buenas personas, acciones malvadas.
¿Qué lleva a las buenas personas a hacer cosas horribles?
Publicado el 27 de feb, de 2017 por Ira Hyman Ph. D. ¿Cualquiera puede convertirse en un monstruo? Nos gusta pensar que solo las personas raras y horribles hacen cosas malvadas. Pero, ¿y si cualquiera, incluso una persona básicamente buena, llevara a cabo acciones malvadas?

Estoy preocupado por la maldad. No me refiero a las cosas malas corrientes y molientes que todos hacemos a veces. La mentira ocasional, el exceso de velocidad o insultar a alguien. Me refiero a la maldad. Causar un daño grave o matar a alguien. La elección de dañar o matar a un grupo entero de personas por el color de su piel, su origen étnico o su religión. En los últimos 100 años, ha habido múltiples episodios de genocidio.

Esta es mi pregunta: ¿hay solo unas pocas personas verdaderamente monstruosas que cometerán estos actos de maldad o es algo que casi cualquiera es capaz de hacer?

Esta fue la pregunta teórica fundamental que se hizo Stanley Milgram (1963) en su investigación sobre obediencia a la autoridad. Milgram quería entender el holocausto. Comenzó su artículo centrándose en el hecho de que "de 1933 a 1945 millones de personas inocentes fueron masacradas sistemáticamente siguiendo órdenes". Afirmaba que las órdenes "se desarrollaban en la mente de una única persona, pero solo podían ser llevadas a cabo a escala masiva si un gran número de personas obedecía las órdenes" (p. 371).

Cuando escribo esta entrada al blog, acabamos de pasar el 75 aniversario de Pearl Harbor y la entrada de los EE.UU. en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El 27 de enero fue el Día de Conmemoración del Holocausto, un momento para reflexionar en los millones de judíos y otros que fueron masacrados por los nazis. Este mes, febrero de 2017, marca el 75 año desde que el presidente Roosevelt firmó la orden ejecutiva que tuvo como resultado el internamiento de las personas de ascendencia japonesa. El internamiento no tuvo como consecuencia la ejecución de personas como ocurrió durante el holocausto nazi. Sin embargo, yo enumero el internamiento de japoneses como otro ejemplo de una ocasión en que personas básicamente buenas cometieron acciones malvadas. Gente inocente fue encarcelada. Personas perdieron su libertad y propiedades en función del color de su piel, de su origen étnico. Personas básicamente decentes estaban siguiendo órdenes. Obedecían a la autoridad.

Milgram estudió cómo personas normales y decentes pueden hacer daño a otras siguiendo órdenes. En su investigación, una individuo solo conoce al experimentador y a alguien que aparenta ser otro participante. Pero realmente esa otra persona es cómplice del experimentador. El experimento supuestamente se refiere al impacto del castigo en el aprendizaje. Se te asigna el papel de profesor y el cómplice hace de alumno. Se pone al alumno cómplice en una habitación contigua, se la ata a una silla, y tiene electrodos ligados a su muñeca. La tarea del cómplice es memorizar parejas de palabras. Cuando el alumno comete un error, a ti, el profesor, se te pide que le des una descarga. Las descargas aumentan gradualmente de 15 a 450 voltios. También se añadieron etiquetas a los enchufes de las sacudidas. Estas escalaban desde leves a moderadas, fuertes, intensas, peligrosas y graves. Los dos últimos interruptores están etiquetados simplemente XXX. Cuando aplicas la descarga, el panel que contiene los enchufes emite un zumbido. En algunas versiones del experimento, tú no oyes nada hasta que alcanzas una descarga de 300 voltios. En este punto, el alumno aporrea la pared y deja de responder. En otras versiones, cuando aplicas descargas más elevadas, el alumno cómplice da una serie de respuestas predeterminadas. Con 75 voltios, se queja por primera vez. Con 150, exige que lo sueltes. Con 180, responde que no puede aguantar el dolor. De nuevo en 300 voltios, los golpes pueden oírse y no responde más. Te dicen que trates una no respuesta como un error y continúes administrando descargas hasta 450 voltios. Si expresas preocupación, el experimentador te pide que sigas.

Déjame ser claro: Este experimento implica un engaño muy fuerte. El cómplice no recibió nunca descargas. Dado el engaño y el estrés que los participantes experimentaron, también se continúa debatiendo la ética de este tipo de investigaciones.

Pero imagínate siendo un participante del estudio. ¿Cuándo crees que pararías? ¿Cuándo crees que parará la mayoría de la gente? ¿Qué porcentaje de gente crees que continuaría todo el proceso hasta el final? Haz tu estimación antes de seguir leyendo.

Milgram describía a menudo el diseño básico y luego preguntaba a las personas cuándo pensaban que la mayoría de la gente se detendría y qué porcentaje creían que continuaría todo el proceso hasta el final: todo el proceso hasta las XXX los 450 voltios, cuando la persona no respondía y el momento de daño evidente. Casi todos creen que muy pocas personas continuarían hasta el final. Cuando Milgram preguntó a los estudiantes de introducción a la psicología cuántas personas continuarían hasta el final, sus estimaciones oscilaron entre 0 y 3%. Cuando encuestó a psiquiatras profesionales, estimaron que la mayoría de las personas se detendrían en la décima descarga cuando el cómplice se queja por primera vez. Como promedio, los psiquiatras estimaron que menos del 1% continuaría hasta el final. Creemos que hay muy pocas personas que harían algo tan claramente cruel.
Esto es lo que hace que los resultados reales sean completamente inquietantes e importantes. Nadie se detuvo cuando el cómplice pidió por primera vez que pararan. Nadie se detuvo cuando el cómplice gritó de dolor. Algunos participantes finalmente se detuvieron en la vigésima descarga, a los 300 voltios, cuando el cómplice se negó a responder y golpeó la pared. Pero solo el 12.5% se detuvo entonces. La mayoría continuó. Terroríficamente, el 65% continuó hasta el final.

No tenemos que buscar villanos para encontrar gente que comete atrocidades. El mal no es siempre una característica de la persona. El mal puede existir en la situación. En algunas situaciones, aún buena gente puede cometer actos malos. El Holocausto no fue perpetrado solo por monstruos. Las personas que encerraron a los ciudadanos de ascendencia japonesa no eran seres humanos terribles. Gente básicamente decente participó en estos actos.

Debería tenerse en mente que el experimento de Milgram no es una situación de las más potentes. No había amenazas a los participantes. No perderían sus puestos de trabajo por detenerse. Nadie amenazó a sus familias. Los participantes estaban agobiados, a menudo expresaban preocupación por el cómplice y frecuentemente pedían parar. Pero sin embargo ante una solicitud sosegada del experimentador, continuaban.

Milgram y otros muchos han tratado de entender por qué obedecen las personas. Quiero resaltar unos cuantos aspectos de la situación que Milgram (1974) pensó que eran especialmente importantes. Primero el participante resulta absorbido por la realización de la tarea. Siguen adelante esmeradamente. Esto parece ser lo que Hannah Arendt describió como la "banalidad del mal". El mal lo realizan personas que cumplen con esmero órdenes de realizar pequeñas acciones correctamente. Milgram observó también que las personas parecen pasar su juicio moral a la figura de la autoridad. Una vez implicados en la tarea, se centran en hacer bien su trabajo. No se centran en la ética de la situación en conjunto. Significativamente, algunos de los participantes comenzaron a ver al cómplice como merecedor de los castigos. Lo veían como diferente e indigno. Imagínese si se resaltara cómo un grupo de gente es diferente y constituye una amenaza. Esto hará más fácil para la gente ver que se merece lo que le está pasando.

Si queremos impedir el mal y si no queremos seguir las órdenes sin más, entonces tenemos que interrumpir la situación. Deberíamos mantener en mente la imagen general y no solo las pequeñas acciones que estamos realizando. Tenemos que conservar nuestra propia responsabilidad ética. Con sentido crítico, tenemos que ver siempre que otros humanos merecen un trato justo y razonable. La mejor defensa contra la comisión de atrocidades puede ser un fuerte sentido de la empatía hacia las personas. Valorar la diversidad y centrarnos en las semejanzas puede capacitarnos para resistir los esfuerzos de demonizar a los individuos o los grupos.

Yo no enseño y escribo sobre los estudios sobre la obediencia de Milgram meramente como una lección de historia. No se trata precisamente del holocausto, otros casos históricos de genocidio y el internamiento de japoneses. La obediencia a la autoridad es completamente contemporánea. Yo enseño a mis alumnos para que la historia no se repita. Yo escribo para recordar siempre. Conocer los estudios de Milgram es crucial. Deberíamos estar preparados para el caso de que alguna vez nos encontrásemos en una situación en que la obediencia signifique violar nuestros propios valores éticos.

Últimamente he pensado con frecuencia sobre la obediencia a la autoridad. He visto cómo está respondiendo la gente a la crisis de los refugiados sirios. Estoy preocupado porque he leído las noticias respecto a cómo la gente en mi país está describiendo y tratando a los inmigrantes indocumentados, musulmanes y otras personas que son diferentes. Enseño para que aprendamos del pasado.

En su escrito Milgram (1965) concluye: "Los resultados son alarmantes para este autor. Estos hacen mayor la posibilidad de que no puede contarse con la naturaleza humana, o más específicamente, con el tipo de carácter producido por la sociedad democrática americana, para proteger a sus ciudadanos de la brutalidad y del trato inhumano bajo la dirección de autoridades malvadas. Una proporción considerable de personas hacen lo que se les dice que hagan, independientemente del contenido del acto y sin limitaciones de conciencia, siempre y cuando perciban que la orden viene de una autoridad legítima. Si en este estudio un investigador anónimo pudo ordenar con éxito que adultos sometan a un hombre de cincuenta años, y le apliquen descargas eléctricas dolorosas en contra de sus protestas, solo podemos preguntarnos qué podrá ordenar a sus súbditos un gobierno, con su autoridad y prestigio considerablemente mayores. Por supuesto está la pregunta sumamente importante de si instituciones políticas malintencionadas pueden surgir en la sociedad americana (p. 75)". Si está interesado en saber más sobre el trabajo de Milgram, en 2015 salió al mercado una película que trata de los estudios sobre obediencia y de sus otras investigaciones. Yo recomiendo encarecidamente ver "The Experimenter: La historia de Stanley Milgram". https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201702/good-people-evil-actions
unit 1
Good People, Evil Actions.
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What leads good people to do horrible things?
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Posted Feb 27, 2017 by Ira Hyman Ph D. Can anyone become a monster?
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We like to think that only unusual and horrible people do evil things.
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But what if anyone, even a basically good person, will perform evil actions?
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I am worried about evil.
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I don’t mean simple run-of-the-mill bad things that we all do sometimes.
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The occasional lie, speeding, or insulting someone.
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I mean evil.
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Causing serious harm or killing someone.
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In the last 100 years, there have been multiple episodes of genocide.
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Milgram wanted to understand the holocaust.
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The internment did not result in the execution of people as occurred during the Nazi holocaust.
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Innocent people were imprisoned.
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People lost their freedom and property based on the color of their skin, their ethnic background.
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Basically decent people were following orders.
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They obeyed authority.
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Milgram studied how normal, good people following orders can harm another person.
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But that other person is actually a confederate of the experimenter.
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The experiment supposedly concerns the impact of punishment on learning.
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You are assigned the role of teacher and the confederate becomes the learner.
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The task is for the confederate to memorize pairs of words.
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When the learner makes an error, you, the teacher, are asked to give him a shock.
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The shocks gradually escalate from 15 to 450 volts.
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Verbal labels are attached to the shock switches as well.
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These escalate from slight, to moderate, strong, intense, danger, and severe.
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The last two switches are simply labeled XXX.
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When you apply a shock, the panel containing the switches makes a buzzing sound.
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In some versions of the experiment, you hear nothing until you reach the 20th shock at 300 volts.
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At that point, the learner pounds on the wall and he stops responding.
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At 75 volts, he complains for the first time.
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At 150, he demands to be let out.
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At 180, he responds that he can’t stand the pain.
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Again at 300 volts, pounding can be heard and he no longer responds.
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You are told to treat a nonresponse as an error and continue administering shocks up to 450 volts.
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If you express concern, the experimenter asks you to continue.
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Let me be clear: This research involved very strong deception.
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The confederate was never shocked.
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But imagine being a participant in the study.
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When do you think you would stop?
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When do you think most people will stop?
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What percentage of people do you think would continue all the way to the end?
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Make your estimate before reading further.
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Almost everyone believes that very few people would continue to the end.
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On average the psychiatrists estimated that less than 1% would continue to the end.
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We believe there are very few people who would do something so clearly cruel.
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This is what makes the actual results completely disturbing and important.
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No one stopped when the confederate first asked to stop.
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No one stopped when the confederate cried in pain.
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But only 12.5% stopped then.
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Most continued.
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Horrifyingly, 65% continued to the end.
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You do not have to search for villains to find people to commit atrocities.
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Evil is not always a characteristic of the person.
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Evil can exist in the situation.
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In some situations, even good people will commit evil acts.
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The holocaust wasn’t perpetrated only by monsters.
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The people who locked up citizens of Japanese descent weren’t awful human beings.
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Basically decent people participated in these actions.
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You should keep in mind that Milgram’s experiment isn’t that powerful of a situation.
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There were no threats to the participants.
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They wouldn’t lose their jobs for stopping.
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No one threatened their families.
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But at a calm request from the experimenter, they nonetheless continued.
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Milgram and many others have endeavored to understand why people obey.
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First the participant becomes absorbed in doing the task.
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They follow through carefully.
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Milgram also noted that people seem to pass their moral judgment to the authority figure.
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Once engaged in the task, they focus on doing their job well.
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They do not focus on the ethics of the overall situation.
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Crucially, many of the participants started to see the confederate as deserving the punishments.
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They saw him as different and unworthy.
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Imagine highlighting how a group of people are different and a threat.
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This will make it easier for people to see them as deserving what happens to them.
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You should keep in mind the big picture not just the small actions you’re performing.
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You must retain your own ethical responsibility.
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Critically, you must always see other humans as deserving of fair and reasonable treatment.
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The best defense against committing atrocities may be a strong sense of empathy for all people.
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I don’t teach and write about Milgram’s obedience studies merely as a history lesson.
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Obedience to authority is completely contemporary.
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I teach my students so that history won’t repeat itself.
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I write so that I always remember.
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Knowing about Milgram’s studies is critical.
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Recently, I’ve thought frequently about obedience to authority.
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I’ve watched how people are responding to the Syrian refugee crises.
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I teach so that we learn from the past.
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In his writing, Milgram (1965) concluded: “The results are to this author disturbing.
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Good People, Evil Actions.
What leads good people to do horrible things?
Posted Feb 27, 2017 by Ira Hyman Ph D.

Can anyone become a monster? We like to think that only unusual and horrible people do evil things. But what if anyone, even a basically good person, will perform evil actions?

I am worried about evil. I don’t mean simple run-of-the-mill bad things that we all do sometimes. The occasional lie, speeding, or insulting someone. I mean evil. Causing serious harm or killing someone. Choosing to harm or kill an entire group of people based on the color of their skin, their ethnic background, or their religion. In the last 100 years, there have been multiple episodes of genocide.

Here’s my question: Are there only a few truly monstrous people who will perform these acts of evil or is it something that almost anyone will do?

This was the fundamental theoretical question that Stanley Milgram (1963) asked in his research on obedience to authority. Milgram wanted to understand the holocaust. He opened his paper by focusing on the fact that “from 1933 to 1945 millions of innocent persons were systematically slaughtered on command.” He stated that the commands “originated in the mind of a single person, but they could only be carried out on a massive scale if a very large number of persons obeyed orders” (p. 371).

As I write this blog post, we have just passed the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the US entry into World War II. January 27th was Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to reflect on the millions of Jews and others who were slaughtered by the Nazis. This month, February 2017, marks the 75th year since President Roosevelt signed the executive order that resulted in the internment of people of Japanese descent. The internment did not result in the execution of people as occurred during the Nazi holocaust. Nonetheless, I list the Japanese internment as another example of a time when basically good people did something evil. Innocent people were imprisoned. People lost their freedom and property based on the color of their skin, their ethnic background. Basically decent people were following orders. They obeyed authority.

Milgram studied how normal, good people following orders can harm another person. In his research, a single individual meets the experimenter and someone who appears to be another participant. But that other person is actually a confederate of the experimenter. The experiment supposedly concerns the impact of punishment on learning. You are assigned the role of teacher and the confederate becomes the learner. The confederate learner is taken to an adjoining room, is strapped into a chair, and has electrodes attached to his wrist. The task is for the confederate to memorize pairs of words. When the learner makes an error, you, the teacher, are asked to give him a shock. The shocks gradually escalate from 15 to 450 volts. Verbal labels are attached to the shock switches as well. These escalate from slight, to moderate, strong, intense, danger, and severe. The last two switches are simply labeled XXX. When you apply a shock, the panel containing the switches makes a buzzing sound. In some versions of the experiment, you hear nothing until you reach the 20th shock at 300 volts. At that point, the learner pounds on the wall and he stops responding. In other versions, as you apply greater shocks, the confederate learner makes a series of predetermined responses. At 75 volts, he complains for the first time. At 150, he demands to be let out. At 180, he responds that he can’t stand the pain. Again at 300 volts, pounding can be heard and he no longer responds. You are told to treat a nonresponse as an error and continue administering shocks up to 450 volts. If you express concern, the experimenter asks you to continue.

Let me be clear: This research involved very strong deception. The confederate was never shocked. Given the deception and the stress participants experienced, people continue to debate the ethics of this type of research as well.

But imagine being a participant in the study. When do you think you would stop? When do you think most people will stop? What percentage of people do you think would continue all the way to the end? Make your estimate before reading further.

Milgram often described the basic design and then asked people when they thought most people would stop and what percentage they thought would continue all the way to the end – all the way to the XXX 450 volts, the person not responding, and the point of apparent harm. Almost everyone believes that very few people would continue to the end. When Milgram asked introductory psychology students how many people would continue to the end, their estimates ranged from 0 to 3%. When he surveyed professional psychiatrists, they estimated that most people would stop at the 10th shock when the confederate first complained. On average the psychiatrists estimated that less than 1% would continue to the end. We believe there are very few people who would do something so clearly cruel.
This is what makes the actual results completely disturbing and important. No one stopped when the confederate first asked to stop. No one stopped when the confederate cried in pain. A few participants finally stopped at the 20th shock – at 300 volts, when the confederate refused to answer and pounded on the wall. But only 12.5% stopped then. Most continued. Horrifyingly, 65% continued to the end.

You do not have to search for villains to find people to commit atrocities. Evil is not always a characteristic of the person. Evil can exist in the situation. In some situations, even good people will commit evil acts. The holocaust wasn’t perpetrated only by monsters. The people who locked up citizens of Japanese descent weren’t awful human beings. Basically decent people participated in these actions.

You should keep in mind that Milgram’s experiment isn’t that powerful of a situation. There were no threats to the participants. They wouldn’t lose their jobs for stopping. No one threatened their families. The participants were stressed, often expressed concern for the confederate, and frequently asked to stop. But at a calm request from the experimenter, they nonetheless continued.

Milgram and many others have endeavored to understand why people obey. I want to note a few aspects of the situation that Milgram (1974) thought were particularly important. First the participant becomes absorbed in doing the task. They follow through carefully. This seems to be what Hannah Arendt described as the “banality of evil.” Evil is performed by people carefully following orders to perform small actions correctly. Milgram also noted that people seem to pass their moral judgment to the authority figure. Once engaged in the task, they focus on doing their job well. They do not focus on the ethics of the overall situation. Crucially, many of the participants started to see the confederate as deserving the punishments. They saw him as different and unworthy. Imagine highlighting how a group of people are different and a threat. This will make it easier for people to see them as deserving what happens to them.

If you want to forestall evil and if you want to not simply follow orders, then you have to break the situation. You should keep in mind the big picture not just the small actions you’re performing. You must retain your own ethical responsibility. Critically, you must always see other humans as deserving of fair and reasonable treatment. The best defense against committing atrocities may be a strong sense of empathy for all people. Valuing diversity and focusing on similarities may enable you to resist efforts to demonize individuals and groups.

I don’t teach and write about Milgram’s obedience studies merely as a history lesson. This isn’t just about the holocaust, other historical instances of genocide, and the Japanese internment. Obedience to authority is completely contemporary. I teach my students so that history won’t repeat itself. I write so that I always remember. Knowing about Milgram’s studies is critical. You should be prepared in case you ever find yourself in a situation when obedience means violating your own ethical standards.

Recently, I’ve thought frequently about obedience to authority. I’ve watched how people are responding to the Syrian refugee crises. I’ve worried as I’ve read the news concerning how people in my country are describing and treating to undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and other people who are different. I teach so that we learn from the past.

In his writing, Milgram (1965) concluded:
“The results are to this author disturbing. They raise the possibility that human nature, or more specifically, the kind of character produced in American democratic society, cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment at the direction of malevolent authority. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority. If in this study an anonymous experimenter could successfully command adults to subdue a fifty-year-old man, and force on him painful electric shocks against his protests, one can only wonder what government, with its vastly greater authority and prestige, can command of it subjects. There is, of course, the extremely important question of whether malevolent political institutions could or would arise in American society (p 75).”

If you are interested in learning more about Milgram’s work, a movie that focused on the obedience studies and his other research was released in 2015. I strongly recommend watching ‘The Experimenter.’

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201702/good-people-evil-actions