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What 1960s Psychology Got Wrong About The Human Capacity For Evil

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Author Topic: What 1960s Psychology Got Wrong About The Human Capacity For Evil  (Read 300 times)
Britney Shubert
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Posts: 4890

« on: March 14, 2015, 04:40:38 pm »

Milgram concluded that it is in our nature to blindly obey orders, even when that means perpetrating acts of evil. "It is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act,” he said.

The Dramatic Re-enactment: For the new study, 14 actors were assigned different characters in a restaging of Milgram's experiment. After the tests, the actors were asked how much they identified with their character, "the experimenter" or "the learner."

The results mirrored Milgram's findings -- the majority of the actors were willing to administer painful shocks, especially when they identified more with the experimenter. However, when the experimenter tried to force them to administer the shock, most actors refused. This suggests that obedience was a matter of choice, and of deliberate allegiance to the experimenter and his cause.

"The more [the actor] identifies with the experimenter and his scientific goals -- and this is something that varies across different versions of the experiment -- the more likely they are to obey," Alex Haslam, a psychologist at the University of Queensland and one of the study's lead authors, told The Huffington Post in an email. "On the other hand, the more they identify with the learner (the victim) -- and this also varies -- the more likely they are to disobey."

Check out this description of the new experiment, courtesy of Vocativ:
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