Stanley Milgram


Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) was an American social psychologist renowned for his controversial experiments on obedience to authority. His research aimed to investigate the extent to which individuals would comply with instructions from an authority figure, even if it conflicted with their personal moral values or caused harm to others.


Milgram’s most famous experiment, conducted at Yale University in 1961, involved a participant (referred to as the “Teacher”) who was instructed to administer electric shocks to another person (called the “Learner”) every time they answered a question incorrectly. The shocks were simulated, but the Teacher believed them to be real. The Learner, an actor, would pretend to be in pain as the voltage increased.


Milgram found that a significant majority of participants, around 65%, were willing to administer the highest level of shock (labeled as “XXX”) to the Learner, despite their distress and pleas for mercy. These findings demonstrated the powerful impact of situational factors and the willingness of individuals to obey authority figures, even when it contradicts their ethical principles.

Ethical Controversy:

Milgram’s experiments generated immense ethical concerns due to the psychological stress and emotional trauma experienced by the participants. The ethics of using deception in research and potentially harming participants for the sake of scientific inquiry were heavily debated.


Despite the controversy, Milgram’s experiments significantly contributed to our understanding of obedience, authority, and the power of situational factors in shaping human behavior. His findings continue to be highly influential in fields such as psychology, sociology, and ethics, emphasizing the need for ethical scrutiny and emphasizing the importance of individual autonomy in decision-making processes.