In this video, I'd like to comment on Stanley Milgram's documentary Obedience, and update the research a little bit. So, if you haven't seen the documentary yet, please do that first and return to this video afterward. Really! Okay? All right. So, here are the topics that I'd like to discuss. First, the context in which Milgram's studies took place. Second, ethical issues related to the experiments. Third, contemporary research on obedience. Fourth, some resources for learning more about Milgram's research: books, websites, and so on. And finally, a funny example of obedience to authority. So, about context: Milgram's research on obedience took place in the 1960s, a decade that was famous in the United States and many other countries for people questioning authority. But there was also a historical event that Milgram was particularly interested in: the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Stanley Milgram was the son of Jewish immigrants, and he explicitly designed these experiments in order to understand the kind of obedience that was prevalent during the days of Hitler. Before the Milgram studies, most people regarded the Holocaust as something uniquely German— that there was something about the German character that led to these atrocities. In essence, what Milgram showed was that people might be committing the fundamental attribution error— that they were making dispositional attributions when they should have at least considered situational or environmental factors. Milgram showed to almost everyone's astonishment—including his own— that even the most decent and kindhearted of Americans were capable of killing or injuring another person on command. In other words, he showed that the psychology of the Holocaust might not be uniquely German and that given the right situation, another holocaust could happen elsewhere. In fact, there was a replication in Germany of Milgram's research, and the levels of obedience found were not significantly different than those that Milgram himself found in the United States. Now, of course, the Holocaust is very different than a laboratory experiment, and Milgram was mindful of this. But, there are features of the experiment that do resemble situations in which an authority figure asks somebody to violate someone else's rights or even asks them to commit an atrocity. The metaphor that Milgram used in making this comparison is the difference between a burning match, which is what took place in his laboratory, and the Chicago fire of 1871, which was a city wide fire of historic dimensions. The equivalence between the two is only in that they involve the same basic process: combustion, in the case of the match, or obedience to authority, in the case of Milgram's research. Milgram was never trying to say that the Holocaust and a laboratory experiment are somehow interchangeable or indistinguishable. That was certainly not his point. And as I mentioned in an earlier video, it's also important to understand that people did try to resist the experimenter— it's just that the objections that they voiced were often ineffective. And even when they did disobey and stop the experiment, it didn't happen in the way we might expect. A 2008 meta-analysis found that disobedience did not increase as the electric shocks appeared to become more painful. Instead, the most common point at which people stopped was at 150 volts, when the learner first asked to be released. If participants didn't stop at that point, chances are they went all the way. This was true for both women and men, for people in the United States as well as other countries, for people of different ages and personalities. And in fact, out of hundreds of people who participated in Milgram's research from start to finish, the number who looked in on the learner in the next room after he stopped responding—just to see if he had a heart attack or needed help—was zero. It simply never happened. The question many people have asked since the time of Milgram's research is whether the knowledge gained was worth the price that Milgram's participants paid, whether it was ethical to put innocent people in such a stressful situation— a situation where they might learn things about themselves that they would rather not know. In an online course, it's not possible to have a classroom discussion about this topic, but it's certainly possible to participate in the discussion forums, so I very much hope that you'll take this opportunity to post a comment, comment on somebody else's post, ask a question, and so forth, so that you can learn from each other and so that the course isn't a spectator sport. All I ask is that you observe the ground rules that we discussed earlier. That is, don't flame people when you disagree with their point of view. If you see comments that violate our course guidelines, simply flag the comment as inappropriate. But for everything else, try to find a respectful way to share your thoughts so that we can create a supportive learning community. The other thing that I wanted to mention about ethics is that these days, university research involving human participants typically has to receive approval from an institutional review board (an IRB) or an ethics committee, although the details differ from country to country. Researchers also have to obtain informed consent from participants, or their guardians if they're not of age or capable, which doesn't mean that you need to tell participants what the experimental hypothesis is—you just need to give them enough information to make an informed judgment whether to participate or not. So, for example, the consent form might say: "I understand that in this study I may be asked to punish another person. I may experience a high level of emotional stress. I may learn things about myself that I'd rather not know." Safeguards like informed consent were implemented in the mid-1970s in the United States, and by the mid 80s, obedience research using Milgram's experimental procedure had pretty much ended worldwide, leaving open the question whether obedience levels are any different today than they were when Milgram conducted his experiments. In his biography of Stanley Milgram, Professor Tom Blass compiled a list of all obedience levels recorded in experiments published between 1963 and 1985, and there was no evidence of a decline. But what about between 1985 and now? Is there still no change? Let's pause for a pop-up question, where you can take a guess, and then I'll share the results of a very clever experiment that offers an answer. The best available evidence suggests that if Milgram's research could be conducted today, the results would be essentially the same as what Milgram found over a half century ago. I say this not only because obedience levels didn't change for 25 years after he published his work, but because another social psychologist, Jerry Burger, published a replication in 2009 and his results were remarkably similar to what Milgram found. Now, how did Jerry Burger manage to conduct a replication given all the regulations that currently limit this sort of research? Well, he realized that the 150-volt level was something of a cliff, because nearly 80% of participants who went past that point continued all the way to the highest shock level. So, by ending the experiment after the 150-volt level, Professor Burger could estimate what the results probably would be without actually putting people through the most stressful part of the procedure, and that modification—along with a few other changes— permitted the study to go forward. The details are given in one of this week's assigned readings, but I thought you still might like to watch some excerpts from a very good ABC primetime TV program describing the replication. In fact, ABC News generously custom-edited the following segments specifically for our class. Let's watch. Imagine this scenario: You go to a prestigious university to participate in a learning and memory experiment. When you arrive, you discover that the teaching instrument is this machine, which seems to give electroshocks to a man on the other side of the wall. [SOUND] >> As you move up the scale, he begins to scream out in pain. >> The experiment requires that you continue. >> The experimenter pressures you to go on. Would you agree to continue with the experiment? >> Ah! That's all. >> To find out, we teamed up with Dr. Jerry Burger, a social psychologist at Santa Clara University in California. >> People have often asked this question about would we find these kinds of results today. And some people try to dismiss the Milgram findings by saying that's something that happened back in the 60's—people aren't like that anymore. >> We're about to find out if people have really changed. >> I'm a teacher. Oh man, okay. >> 39-year-old Troy Shasker is an electrician. He's been paid $50 to participate and told that the money is his to keep, even if he quits the experiment early. He's worried about the dangers of the electroshock machine. >> Wow! I don't think I can shock him that hard if he really does screw up. That's severe shock there. >> Yeah, there are 25— >> Well, I can just go get my shotgun. >> In the room next door, Troy watches as the learner gets strapped into his chair. His anxiety rises when he hears the next scripted line. >> I should probably bring up, a couple of years ago at Kaiser they diagnosed a mild heart condition. I'm really not too worried about it. It's not that serious, but— >> Well, you should know that while the shocks that we'll be using today may be painful, they're not dangerous. Okay? >> Milgram intended that exchange to set up a conflict in the subject's mind— a choice between the health of the learner and the authority of the experimenter. Now, Troy starts reading Ken the word pairs he's supposed to memorize. >> Blue, girl, nice, day, fat, neck. Number one. >> Then, the test begins. >> Blue, boy, girl, grass, hat. >> The learner must decide which of the four words is the correct match. At first, everything goes smoothly. >> Correct. I was confident that he was doing really good at first, and then it started looking bad. [LAUGH] >> At 75 volts, Troy hears the first sign of trouble. >> Soft, rug, pillow, hair, grass. [SOUND] Incorrect. 75 volts. [SOUND] I could actually hear him next door going, "Oww! Ugh!" And he kept getting things wrong. [SOUND] Incorrect. 90 volts. >> Ow! >> He didn't like that. >> At 105 volts, he's clearly uneasy. >> I got a little moist on my forehead there. I wasn't comfortable. I do not—I can't tell you why I listened to him and kept going. I should have just said "No." The correct word was duck. >> Near the end, he's almost willing Ken to learn the right world pairs through the wall. >> Horse. [SOUND] Incorrect. 135 volts. >> Ah! >> Troy starts laughing nervously. >> The correct word was woman. Rock, house. >> At 150 volts— >> [SOUND] Incorrect. 150 volts. >> Ah! That's all. Get me out of here! I told you I had heart trouble. >> Will Troy listen as the learner begs him to stop, or will he follow Brian's orders? >> Tell him the correct word pair: white— >> The correct word was white horse. [SOUND] >> The next item—please continue. >> The next item is sad. >> He obeys the orders. >> Face— >> Why didn't you stop? >> I saw him getting strapped in. They were just like little— I mean, he could have just, if he was in that much pain, he could have just torn himself off. >> Why are you putting it on him and not you or the experimenter? >> I was just doing my job. [UNCOMFORTABLE LAUGH] I was doing what I was supposed to do. 75 volts. >> So, I guess the influence of having the conductor of the experiment right there next to me, telling me to keep going, had a lot to do with it. >> Cool, day. >> We tested 18 men and 22 women. >> Very often the first time they hear a noise from the other room... [SOUND] >> Wrong. 90 volts. << Ah! >> ...the typical response is to turn toward the experimenter and, if not say something, at least give a look that says, "What should I do?" And of course when an expert tells them, "Not a problem— this is nothing to worry about, continue," the rational thing to do in that situation is to continue. >> He's not finger in the face. He's not a drill sergeant. >> No, you don't have to be threatening. The power that he has in this situation comes in part because he's an authority figure, and we're all trained a little bit to obey authority figures. But also, he's the expert in the situation. He's the one that knows about this machine. [SOUND] >> Incorrect. 105 volts. >> In the end, almost two thirds of the men agreed to administer the highest shock. For the past 30 years, there have been severe restrictions on using humans in social psychology research. To avoid putting subjects under too much stress, Dr. Burger made a significant change to our experiment. >> In this experiment, you stopped at 150 make-believe volts. In Milgram they went much higher. >> We stopped for ethical reasons. We couldn't put people through the agony that Milgram's participants went through. When we look back at Milgram's data, what we find is that point—that 150-volt point that we stopped at—is something of a point of no return. >> This says 150 volts. Deep breath. >> Ah! That's all. Get me out of here! I told you I have heart trouble. My heart's starting to bother me now. Get me out of here, please! My heart's starting to bother me. I refuse to go on. Let me out! >> Well? >> Please go on the next item is sad. >> Okay, now he said that he had a heart problem. >> Remember, while the shocks may be painful to him, they're not dangerous. We know that. >> Okay. We're aware of that, and there's not going to be any lawsuit from this medical facility, right? >> If anything happens to him, I am responsible. >> That's what I needed to know. >> Okay. >> We began to notice a pattern. The majority of people who continued to follow orders refused to take responsibility for the learner's safety. >> It's not my responsibility. You all, you know, brought this. We're volunteers. >> It's your control lab experiments. >> I see, okay. >> I'm just a conduit for you. >> Well, I just flipped the switch. I mean, he chose to be there himself to take the shocks, and that was his choice. [MUSIC] >> So the bottom line is that statements like, "I was just following orders" or "it's not my responsibility" are still very much with us. They're not historical relics from the Holocaust or from Milgram's research in the 1960s. Here's how Milgram himself summed up the main lesson from his research: he wrote, "Perhaps the most fundamental lesson of our study, ordinary people, simply doing their jobs and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terribly destructive process." If he's right that ordinary people can kill or injure another person on command, just doing their job—they don't know the other person, they don't know the authority figure— what this lesson implies is that a future holocaust could happen if we're not careful. Stanley Milgram died of a heart attack in 1984 at the age of 51, but the legacy of his research lives on, and if you're interested in learning more about it, a very good place to start is the Stanley Milgram biography mentioned in an earlier video, as well as these books by Stanley Milgram and Tom Blass. All of these books are terrific. Another good source of information is Wikipedia, which has detailed entries on both "Stanley Milgram" and "Milgram Experiment." And there's also a two-minute bonus video accessible to members of our class in which Stanley Milgram talks about the famous electric shock generator. Whatever became of the shock generator? It's on display at the Center for the History of Psychology in Akron, Ohio. For those of you who live too far away from Ohio to visit the Center—which, by the way, is a great place—I recently traveled there and took a few photos. Here's what the Center looks like as you enter. Here's the shock generator, along with some of the straps and wires that made it so real. And here's a closeup of the switches. Just imagine if it were your finger on those switches. What would you do? It's a difficult question, and one that I hope you'll discuss in the class forums. Meanwhile, let's end this video on a lighter note with an entertaining example of people obeying the instructions of an authority figure, but instead of instructions to harm a stranger, instructions to marry a stranger. Take a look. [WEDDING MUSIC] >> We asked Charlie to help us make a wedding video with a difference. The happy couple are actors. Charlie's a registrar. All we need now is a witness, and here she comes— an unsuspecting member of the public, fetched off the street. >> Could I have your full name please? >> Yeah, Margaret Richardson. >> Margaret Richardson. >> Margaret's offered to bail out the bride and groom, who've supposedly been let down by their friend. What she doesn't know is that Charlie's going to make a mistake—quite a bad one. >> It is my duty to remind you of the solemn and binding character of the ceremony of marriage. Now, could I ask you please to repeat after me? I do solemnly declare. >> I do solemnly declare >> that I know not >> that I know not >> of any lawful impediment >> of any lawful impediment >> why I, >> why I, >> Margaret Richardson, >> Margaret Richardson, >> Yes? >> Repeat the name, please. >> Margaret Richardson, >> may not be joined >> may not be joined >> in matrimony >> in matrimony >> to Peter Roy Edmonds. >> to Peter Roy Edmonds. Probably, initially, I thought something was wrong when I started to actually say the vows, and then I really realized something was wrong when I began to place the ring on the finger. >> Place the ring on his finger. >> I suppose I was just standing there, and everybody seemed to be in agreement with what was happening. And I was just told to do it, and for some reason I just did. >> So did Eric Taylor. >> Could you repeat after me? I call upon these persons here present >> I call upon these persons here present >> to witness that I, >> to witness that I, >> Eric Taylor, >> Eric Taylor, >> do take thee, >> do take thee, >> Julianne Gillett, >> Julianne Gillett, >> to be my lawful wedded wife. >> to be my lawful wedded wife. >> He was putting the words into my mouth, you know? He was saying that I was to say this, and I was to say that, and I was thinking, I'm the witness and the groom ain't saying nothing! >> …do take thee. >> Sorry? >> …do take thee, >> …do take thee, >> Peter Roy Edmonds, >> Peter Roy Edmonds, >> to be my lawful wedded husband. >> At one point, Margaret protests. >> Sorry, I'm confused. >> But Charlie's authority is irresistible. >> Just repeat the phrase. >> But I'm not getting married. >> No, no—just repeat the phrase. >> To be my lawful wedded husband. And I looked confused. The response was that I was confused and not the situation. >> I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride. >> I was just aware that this man was telling me to do this in a very sort of definite way and there didn't seem to be an option—I'm not quite sure why. >> Julianne Gillard and Eric Taylor, you have both made the declarations prescribed by law and have made a solemn and binding contract with each other, in the presence of the witnesses here assembled. I now pronounce you man and wife. >> And when he said that we were actually married, I was scared. I was heading out the door. >> Congratulations, Sir. Congratulations, you may kiss the bride. >> Congratulations! >> Thank you. >> All right. >> Thank you. Yes, you're now married. Well done, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. >> You two married, here? I'm the witness. >> Ah. >> I thought there's something going wrong here. >> Ah, you did put the ring on the— >> Yeah, but I thought I'm the witness. >> Ah, I have married you together. Is this going to be a problem? >> Oh, yeah.