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Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View [Paperback]

Stanley Milgram , Jerome Bruner
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View 4.7 out of 5 stars (7)
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Book Description

17 Jan 2005
Volunteers are invited to a scientific laboratory under the pretense of participating in a study about the effects of punishment on learning. They are instructed by an experimenter to administer an electric shock of increasing intensity every time a 'learner', strapped to an electric conductor, makes a mistake. How many, if any, would go right up the scale to 450 Volts? The implications of Stanley Milgram's extraordinary findings (up to 65 per cent of subjects administered the full shock) are devastating. From the Holocaust to Vietnam and Iraq, Obedience to Authority goes some way towards explaining how ordinary people can commit the most horrific of crimes if placed under the influence of a malevolent authority. With a new foreword by Jerome Bruner.


Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd.; New edition edition (17 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953096475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953096473
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stanley Milgram was born in 1933 in New York City. He took a bachelor's degree from Queens College in political science and received his Ph.D. in the social relations program of Harvard University in 1960 under the direction of Gordon Allport.
Milgram spent from 1960 to 1963 at Yale University conducting the obedience experiments for which he quickly became internationally famous, and for which he received many honors including the American Association for the Advancement of Science prize in sociopsychology. The first reports of this work appeared in 1963, but the full series of experiments was first published in his 1974 book Obedience to Authority, which was nominated for a National Book Award.
Milgram returned to Harvard in 1963 and remained there until 1967, when he moved to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as head of the social psychology graduate program. In 1980 Milgram was named a distinguished professor of psychology by the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Milgram passed away in December of 1984.
At the City University of New York, Milgram conducted a seminal series of experiments on the psychology of urban living, and he wrote and produced an award-winning movie, The City and the Self, as a further expression of his insights into urban life.
Milgram was a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1972 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship to spend a year in Paris developing his work on mental maps of Paris and New York. He was, in addition to all of this, an amateur songwriter, photographer, and inventor of games and gadgets.

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Review

A masterpiece. -- New Statesman

Brilliant. -- Psychology Today

From the Publisher

Volunteers are invited to a scientific laboratory under the pretence of participating in a study about the effects of punishment on learning. They are instructed by an experimenter to administer an electric shock of increasing intensity every time a 'learner', strapped into an electric chair, makes a mistake. How many, if any, would go right up the scale to 450 Volts?

The implications of Stanley Milgram's extraordinary findings (up to 65% of subjects administered the full shock) are devastating. From the Holocaust to Vietnam, Obedience to Authority goes some way towards explaining how ordinary people can commit the most horrific of crimes if placed under the influence of a malevolent authority.

Stanley Milgram's classic and controversial social psychology title has been unavailable in the UK for many years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profoundly unsettling book 5 Dec 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Rarely has a book had so much impact on me. What is really so frightening is that those experiments were real and they conclusively show that obedience to authority can quite possibly be the greatest of evils. After reading the book, the big question kept nagging me: Would I have been obedient in those situations? It shows how enormously important it is for each and every one of us to personally assess the impact of our actions, regardless of whether they are sanctioned by authority. I'd recommend this book to everyone.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Electric 15 Oct 2005
Format:Paperback
As a subject, you are asked to attend at a Yale University laboratory in order to aid an experimenter examining the effects of punishment in the process of learning. Upon arriving at this laboratory you meet the experimenter and another subject like yourself. This other subject is to be the 'learner', you are to be the 'teacher'. Your task is to punish this person should they fail some simple memory tests. To do this you are instructed to administer electric shocks to this person, increasing them by 15 volts each time they make an error.
In this book, Milgram lucidly recounts his experiment, which is in fact designed to test the extent to which one person would hurt another in the name of science(the learner is actually an accomplice and never receives a real shock). His motivations for this seem to derive from his concern about historical atrocities, such as the holocost, and works to reveal how easily one might equit themselves of guilt and be obedient to some extenal authority. Due to the clarity with which Milgram recounts individual responses to the experiment, coupled with the startling results, this book is incrediably powerful and at times extremely moving.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deference to Expertise? 25 Oct 2007
By calmly
Format:Paperback
This experiment shows that people go along too readily with an experimenter. How readily should we as readers go along with Milgram's claims? Before reaching the experiment, there's a front cover claim that this is "the unique experiment that challenged human nature" and a back cover quote that this is "one of the most significant books I have ever in more than two decades of reviewing". Then a glowing foreword then a preface in which Milgram already is already wondering if a connection exists to Nazis. So what mere mortal wouldn't already be convinced without even readng the experiment?

But we can think critically, can't we, even if we are not scientists or acclaimed writers. Otherwise, we may be as guilty of lack of responsibility as those who went ahead and shocked the learner despite his pleas. The volunteer teachers in Milgram's experiment trusted the experimenter. Are we to trust Milgram to spoon feed us his interpretations? Maybe he's right but don't concede that yet.

The volunteer can't be court-martialed, can't spend years in a prison. At most the volunteer who stopped might expect to be yelled at as he/she exited. Was the volunteer who continued acting out of obedience or because he/she gives undue respect to an apparent scientist? There seems to me a difference. In the military one is trained to obey a command from a superior no matter what the superior is like. In Milgram's experiment, he found himself that volunteers became more likely to stop when an ordinary person was in charge.

Milgram notes differences between his experiment and some military occurrences but focuses on the similarities. In doing so, he may have failed to investigate deeply the differences.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Milgram's devastating insight into the human psyche dealt a hammer blow to established views of human behaviour.
Cunning experiments and the foresight to survey opinion extensively of the expected outcome of the experiments......*Nobody* saw what was going to happen...
Essential reading for all misanthropists!
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