Friday, August 01, 2008

Would I pull that switch?

I recommend this NYTimes piece by Benedict Carey on recent experiments that give more nuance to the classic Stanley Milgram obedience studies of the early 1960s,
...that together form one of the darkest mirrors the field has held up to the human face. In a series of about 20 experiments, hundreds of decent, well-intentioned people agreed to deliver what appeared to be increasingly painful electric shocks to another person, as part of what they thought was a learning experiment. The “learner” was in fact an actor, usually seated out of sight in an adjacent room, pretending to be zapped.
The more recent work looks at conditions under which which participants were most likely to disobey the experimenter and quit delivering shocks. The participants' perception of the human rights of the learner as well as whether they felt themselves or the experiments actually responsible for delivering the shocks influenced the threshold beyond which they would no longer obey the experimenter.

No comments:

Post a Comment