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Author Archive: "Gina Perry"

Shock Tactics: Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiments Revisited

You may have heard of Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments. Perhaps you've read about them in a textbook at school, as I did. Even if you haven't, you've likely come across them without knowing it — in the episode of The Simpsons, for example, where a therapist hooks the family up to a shock machine, and they zap one another as Springfield's electricity grid falters and the streetlights flicker. You might have seen them referenced in other TV programs, from Malcolm in the Middle to Law and Order: SVU. Perhaps you read in the news about an infamous 2010 French mock game show where contestants believed they were torturing strangers for prize money. Or you might have heard the experiments mentioned in a documentary about torture or the Holocaust.

Milgram's obedience research might have started life in a lab 50 years ago, but it quickly leapt from academic to popular culture, appearing in books, plays, films, songs, art, and reality television.

The routine description of the research goes something like this: Stanley Milgram found that 65 percent of people will deliver lethal electric shocks to a stranger because they are ...

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