Hello. I'm Bobby Parmar, a colleague Marissa Darden. In addition to teaching ethics, I conduct research on how people make moral decisions in ambiguous situations, where values typically conflict. I'd like to tell you about an interesting study. 50 years ago, Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist art Yale university performed a series of experiments that shocked the world, and became the foundation of social psychology called the obedience to authority studies. These experiments tested how far people would go in delivering a series of increasingly strong shocks to a stranger. Amazingly 65% of people completed the experiment and administered the strongest possible shock. This historical and ground breaking study demonstrated that situations and not just personality have tremendous power to shape human behavior. By looking more closely at the participants who disobeyed, we can learn something about how people act effectively with integrity. Here's how the experiment worked. 40 males between the ages of 20 and 50 participated in each condition of the experiment. They came from all acts of life. There were teachers, postal clerks, salesman, members of the clergy and engineers among others. They were to be paid $4.50 about $32 an hour today for simply coming to the laboratory and Yale University. Once in the lab, the participants met the experimenter and the learner. The participant was assigned the role of teacher. He was told that the experiment involved exploring the effects of punishment on learning. The teacher observed as the learner was strapped into a chair and electrodes were put on his wrist. And then the teacher was placed in front of a shock generator with 30 levers ranging from 15 to 450 volts. His role would be the read a series of word pairs to the learner and to give him increasing electric shocks whenever he responded incorrectly. Now, it's important to know that this was not really an experiment about the effective punishment on learning and that the man playing the learner was not getting shocked at all. This experiment in short, was designed to put people in values conflict and test how far ordinary people would go in administering pain to a virtual stranger at the command of an authority figure. Here's what happened. The situation was set up so that as the shocks increased, the teacher would here the learner complain, first he said ow, then he complained about his heart. At the 300 volt level, the teacher would hear the learner pounding on the door, demanding to be let out. From the 315 volt level on, there was no response at all from the learner. Most of the participants thinking they were really hearing a man in pain, were extremely uncomfortable and did not want to go on. They complain to the experimenter that they wanted to stop and that they were worried about the learner's health. Many exhibited signs of high stress and tension, sweating, groaning, biting their lips, and digging their fingernails into their arms. In all cases, the experimenter urged them to continue with a series of four different prompts. Despite being uncomfortable with the situation, 65% of the participants continued to administer the shocks all the way up in to 450 volt level. The remaining 35% of the participants left at various points in the experiments, defying and disobeying the experimenter as the authority. Milgram's work demonstrated that obedience to authority occurs a great deal more than we expect. And that a situation was a more powerful predictor of behavior than personality. In other words, good people could do bad things when placed in the right situation that was conducive to overwhelming their personal values. And because Milgram manned several variations of his test, he discovered that demographic variables like gender, work experience, education for example did not matter in predicting obedience. By testing different conditions, Milgram and his team were able to find which features of the situation were most likely to reduce obedience. For example, when the experimenter was further away, when he gave directions to my phone, more participants were disobedient. When other teachers were present, and they questioned the experiment, more participants were disobedient. And when the teacher was closer to the learner, and was able to witness the pain he was causing, obedience dropped. Today, new research allows us to take a deeper look at what exactly is happening in these experimental conditions. My team and I obtained the original tapes from Yale University. We transcribed and time tagged all the speech in the experiment for a group of 60 participants. And we look for speech patterns that distinguished obedient and disobedient people within the same condition. When we looked at the data, particularly at what people said during the course of the experiment, we saw that the real issue that comes out of the Milgram experiments is whether participants perceived that they had a choice or the right to end the experiment, not whether they wanted to stop. Most people knew that something immoral or unethical was going on, but they assumed that it was the authority's responsibility to end the experiment. For example, participants said things like do you want me to stop and don't you think we should do something about that man in there? Some participants tried to get the experimenter to change his choice by pleading or begging him to look in on the learner. Others however, figured out that they didn't have to continue with this experiment if they didn't want to. These people simply left, they made statements such as I don't want to do this anymore or I don't think that this is right. Disobedient participant said things that exhibited more personal agency and they illustrated that they saw the option of leaving the experiment. Whereas most of the obedient participants didn't see the option of leaving, even though they were uncomfortable with the experiment. In addition, disobedient participants were significantly more likely to explore the effects of their actions. They would ask questions, like what happens if I get all the way to the top? Or how do you know that he'll be okay? This helped them figure out and articulate reasons to stop the experiment. These results underscore several important themes in the GVV methodology. First, acting on our values requires seeing the choice to act. We can all become blind to our options in part because all organizations divide up roles and responsibilities and thus becomes harder to think outside our role. Second, when faced with the values conflict, disobedient participants thought much more about the effects of their actions and what might happen if they continue to push the shock button. This is a kind of mental rehearsal, that increased their likelihood of speaking up. And finally, while there were key patterns in how all disobedient participants behaved in the experiment, each one had a unique and individualized style that played to their strengths. Some would ask for proof that the learner wasn't being harmed. Others volunteered to switch places with the learner. And some even said things like, I don't believe that you'd want to place this man in harm, assuming the best about the experimenter and voicing their belief that the experiment should stop. Milgram's work, even 50 years later, helps us remember how malleable people can be. And how important it can be to have the skills, confidence and habit of enacting our values.