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Obedience to Authority

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,712 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others. Obedience, as a determinant of behavior is of particular relevance to our time. It has be ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 8th 1983 by Harper Perennial (first published 1974)
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Esteban del Mal


I like to tell people that my first religious experience was seeing the music video for Peter Gabriel's song Shock the Monkey. This experience, coupled with some subsequent churchgoing misadventures in my adolescence, is why I always have to suppress the desire to throw poop whenever I pass a church.

Hardly scientific, but it gets my point across: I don't do well with authority.

Stanley Milgram is a pioneer in social psychology. Why? Because he convinced people -- good, churchgoing pe
"If one had as one's ultimate authority God, then it trivializes human authority" — أحد المتطوعين في تجربة ميلجرام

لتتخيل معي أنك تطوعت للمشاركة في تجربة علمية تحت رعاية جامعة محترمة، يشرح لك القائم على التجربة وهو في بالطو المعمل الأنيق الهدف منها وهو قياس مدى تحسن قدرات الذاكرة لدى البعض على إثر عقابهم، ويخبرك أن وسيلة العقاب ستكون الصدمة الكهربائية مؤكداً أنها لا تسبب ضرراً بالغاً، فكل ما تسببه هو شعور بالألم، بعد الإقتراع مع متطوع آخر كنت أنت المسؤول عن توجيه الصدما
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) made several groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of human behavior. He was a master of particularly inventive research: for instance, he devised the experimental method to investigate path lengths in social networks, establishing what is variously referred to as the "small world" effect, the Kevin Bacon effect, or "six degrees of separation".

He will always be remembered, however, as the man who conducted the “obedience studies”, a controversial series o
Петър Стойков
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Експериментът на Милграм е един от най-известните в историята на психологията - как под командата на "учен" в бяла престилка, стотици обикновени хора пускат електрически шокове на "доброволец" (той всъщност е актьор и не получава никакви шокове, но хората не знаят това) докато той припадне от болка. И продължават въпреки отчаяните му викове и гърчове - само защото някой им казва да го направят и въпреки че много от тях очевидно страдат, съпреживяват, треперят от ужас и т.н.

Изводите на Милграм за
Rich V
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Were Nazi soldiers just following orders in WWII? How would civilians in the U.S. respond to demands from authority figures to perform seemingly immoral acts? Where does the "just following orders" response fall on the scale of moral behavior?

Milgram conducted an experiment in which individuals were asked to administer increasingly intense shocks to an unseen test subject in the next room, whenever the subject answered a question incorrectly. Some individuals refused to continue administering s
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
شاید اگه یکی بهم میگفت "یک کتاب در زمینه ی روانشناسی اجتماعی در یک زمینه نسبتا محدود که کاملا هم مبتنی بر آزمایش تجربی باشه در بهترین حالت در مقیاس گودریدزی (!) چه جور کتابی میتونه باشه برای تو؟" جوابم این بود که احتمالا در بهترین حالت یک کتاب خوب (سه ستاره) ولی این کتاب از نظر من عاااالیه. ای کاش میشد آدم های زیادی این کتاب رو بخونن (البته نه همه آدمها یا شاید نه حتی اکثریتشون). بخونینش اگه:
فکر میکنین انسان های اخلاقی هستین که بین انسان های غیراخلاقی زیادی زندگی میکنین
فکر میکنین فجایع اتفاق ا
Stephen Futterer
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book on the famous/infamous series of experiments conducted at and near Yale in the early 60's (book published in 1974). As for many, I was exposed to Milgram in a college survey course but still had no idea of the 20-odd variations on his study alone, not counting replications around the world. The book is clear, concise, and well-written and with conclusions that are both revelatory and disturbing -- not least by engendering thoughts of what I might have done as a study subject.

Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Why did you do that?"
"Because I was told to."

Or put another way, which didn't wash at the Nuremberg war trials, "I was only following orders." This book explores, through a classic experiment, the horrifying lengths that pefectly ordinary people will go to in obedience to authority and how they think that authority relieves them of personal responsibility for their actions. The tragedy is that those of us like me, who have a deep suspicion of authority, will read this book. Those who have faith
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The movie "Experimenter" is an excellent film about Stanley Milgram and the experiment documented in this book. I saw the film first, and now that I've read the book I like what they did with the film even more: the two really compliment each other if you're interested in the topic. If not, the film will be more accessible and interesting.

The question was: if random subjects are asked by an authority figure to harm a stranger for the sake of "science," will they go through with it? Yes, sadly,
Oct 08, 2016 added it
Ella Dijle (book.monkey)
I really wish I had read this book last year when I first started learning about Milgram's work for my Psychology A Level. It gave me a truly deep understanding of his agent theory and over all the studies. If you are about to do an A Level in the UK in psychology and have a bit of extra time I would highly recommend reading this book!
Jorgen Peterson
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. I'll send it to you Saum.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, psychology
It took me a while until I got around to reading a summary of the actual experiments done by Milgram and others. Before I ever opened this book I read quite a bit of criticism (e.g. which I leave for anyone interested to evaluate for themselves. It should be noted that any experiment that attracts as much attention as Milgram's did is bound to receive abundant criticism and Milgram unlike other pseudo scientific authors of today, responds to all the crit ...more
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Though severly restricted by antiquated research paradigms (i.e. blind spots) of the time of the experiment (predominately male, white study participants as just one example) this study and Milgram's detailed and mostly nuanced discussion of the results is still well worth reading.

The famous take away and dominant narrative of the experiment can be summed up in this quote "With numbing regularity, good people were seen to knuckle under to the demands of authority and perform actions that were ca
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An in depth look at a the classic examination of people and their willingness to obey to others. This book is a look at the classic experiment that occured on the Yale campus in the the early 1960s. There were many other experiments done testing certain parameters within the original design set up by Milgram. At the end of the book a great quote/lesson from the experiment appears. It goes "it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that deter ...more
Ahmed Al sanhani
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is really annoying knowing that we are more likely to commit horrible things and yet we don't shoulder the responsibility of our actions because we are basically ordered to do so. This reminds me of one of the verses in Holy Qur'an saying that individuals are fully responsible of their own every action regardless of the authority over them. And what's more annoying is that disobeying authority is hard. To me, being aware of this at least will help me to avoid being in a position requiring me ...more
Canard Frère
Le descriptif d'une expérience psychologique des années 60, consistant à observer jusqu'à quel point l'obéissance à un ordre extérieur peut prendre le pas sur les scrupules de l'exécutant. Le livre est assez fascinant dans le détail des réactions des sujets (début d'effondrement nerveux pour certains, impassibilité feinte pour d'autres, etc), et finalement un peu inquiétant quand on constate la propension majoritaire à obéir de façon quasi-aveugle à des ordres pourtant iniques.
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
I thought I knew all about this experiment from reading other sources, but of course I was wrong. Milgram carried out something like 16 variations of the experiment, and he thought really hard and insightfully about it. He doesn't just quote Freud, Kohlberg, Asch and other psychologists of his time, but also philosophers like Hannah Arendt.

I will say the first half (describing the experiments) is more worth reading than the second half (discussion), which I skimmed.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un must che tutti dovrebbero leggere. La realtà è più angosciante del thriller più spietato e c'è un mostro in ognuno di noi. Sono i famosi esperimenti di Milgram che mostrano come la maggioranza delle persone obbedisca a un ordine anche contrario alla sua etica se a chiederglielo è un'autorità fortemente riconosciuta.
Thom Dunn
It's fair to say that no one graduates from a good college without learning of Milgram's Behavioral Study of Obedience. Good.
Jacob Witmer
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that all libertarians (and potential libertarians, or "consistently pro-freedom individuals") should read, if they want to understand how and why government, the law, and society are broken. I don't recommend the more popular (in libertarian circles) "Human Action" by Mises for this purpose, (even though that is a fine book as well).

This book was expressly written to investigate why the Jewish holocaust happened; how the German citizenry could "go along
I knew about the basic experiment, of course, but I had no idea how many variations on the basic structure Milgram conducted--this is an incomplete list:

-Put the person being "shocked" (the learner) in the same room as the participant
-Put the learner right next to the participant and make the participant physically place the learner's hand on a plate in order to "shock" them (!) (look at fig. 7 on p.37 for crying out loud!)
-Have the experimenter leave the room and phone in instructions to the p
Michele Brack
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
#40 A book you bought on a trip

"Nothing is more dangerous to human survival than malevolent authority combined with the dehumanizing effects of buffers." (p 157)

I saw this movie about a year ago and I immediately (though, admittedly in a very inebriated state) bought the book and decided to read it. It is FASCINATING!

It really makes you think about the role that authority plays in our everyday lives. There is this section where they talk about the autonomous state and the agentic state and it j
Nicholas Smith
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Milgram's experiments into obedience remain some of the most enlightening and disturbing in the history of psychology. This book which opens up the process and the wide variety of tests carried out, reinforce the core message that evil is frequently carried out by ordinary people, who can be manipulated by those with the appearance of authority. This is a timeless book and worth anyone's time reading.
Gintarė Valentinaitienė
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
It was a bit boring. Since I already knew about this experiment I was looking for more thoughts about obedience in general, not necessary from standpoint of Milgram's experiment.

And I really don't understant why he didin't made variatons with women since Migram himself expressed that ''it would be usefull and interesting''.
Johannes Mirus
Ganz interessant, ein wenig mehr über dieses berühmte Experiment zu erfahren. Man merkt an manchen Stellen allerdings, dass es fünfzig Jahre alt ist. Und eigentlich könnte man die Erkenntnisse locker auf wenigen Seiten zusammenfassen. Zum Ende hin wird es richtig nervig, wenn Milgram erst wild über seine Ergebnisse und deren Folgen spekuliert und sich im Anhang auch noch für Kritik rechtfertigt.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely clear and easy to follow, giving great insight on the way psychology has changed within and beyond this school of thought. Milgram makes some good points and explanations to overcome all the misunderstanding regarding his experiments and what they meant in relation to people living and reacting to their social world. His consistent comparisons to obedience in WWII were particularly helpful in contextualizing his work.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm only going to say this once: You MUST read this book, all your friends are doing it, I have read it, therefore I am an expert upon the thing, I have also now written this review which only ADDS to my gravitas, and I COMMAND you in the name of all that is Scientific, rational, and right to DROP EVERYTHING and read this goddamn book...
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Illuminating! A must-read for humanity everywhere.
Reixel Soy Yo
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
In this book, Milgram tries to understand how people react when they are in an unbalanced situation where there is a person who is considered an authority, and they have to obey inmoral orders from this one.
The experiment is pretty famous and it was developed in Yale's University. For studying obedience to authority, Milgram masks the experiment, telling the volunteers that they are going to take part on a study about how punishment influences the memory. The task of the subjects is to play as i
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Stanley Milgram (August 15, 1933 – December 20, 1984) was a social psychologist at Yale University, Harvard University and the City University of New York. While at Harvard, he conducted the small-world experiment (the source of the six degrees of separation concept), and while at Yale, he conducted the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority. He also introduced the concept of familiar strang ...more
More about Stanley Milgram...
“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” 52 likes
“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.” 30 likes
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