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Obedience/Milgram experiment/psychological theories: (…) three new approaches to the experimental study of obedience have been developed that allow us to address real harm-doing without harming participants in the process. (Cf. >Milgram experiment/psychological theories, >Vs Milgram).
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A. The first employs virtual reality simulations of the Milgram paradigm. In these it has been shown that behaviour in these simulations corresponds closely to that which is observed in the original paradigm (Slater et al., 2006)(1).
B. The second involves using a technique called Immersive Digital Realism to train actors to play the role of normal participants in the Milgram paradigm (Haslam, Reicher and Millard, 2015)(2).
C. The third is based on the observation that what people do at 150 volts is a very accurate predictor of whether they will obey up to 450 volts. So why not stop the studies at the 150-volt mark where one can see if people will obey without getting them to actually do something harmful? This was the strategy adopted by Jerry Burger (2009a)(3) in his replication of the Milgram paradigm.
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1. Several authors point to the need to consider the importance of disobedience as well as obedience (Bocchario and Zimbardo, 2010(4); Dimow, 2004(5); Jetten and Mols, 2014(6); Passini and Morselli, 2009(7); Rochat and Modigliani, 1995(8)).
2. A number of analyses point to features of the various relationships in the obedience paradigm that might help explain whether people obey or disobey authority. Wim Meeus and Quinten Raaijmakers (1995)(9), for instance, argue that obedience does not result from an inability to resist scientific authority but rather from a cultural tendency to identify with the social system, combined with a tendency not to identify with our fellow citizens but to see them in terms of specific role positions – an analysis which suggests that in the Milgram studies participants relate to the learner in terms of the different roles that the two of them occupy rather than in terms of their common citizenship.
3. Rochat and Modigliani (1995)(8): note that the villagers of Chambon were descendants of the persecuted Protestant minority in France (the Huguenots) and this meant that they likened the collaborationist Vichy Government to their own persecutors, and saw commonality between themselves and those who were persecuted. Their analysis concludes that once the persecutors became ‘them’ and the persecuted became ‘us’, the choice of whom to side with – of whether to obey or defy authority – became easy. See also >Goldhagen (1996)(10).
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Reicher/Haslam: Thesis: We harm others to the extent that we listen to the appeals of malicious authorities above those of its victims. At the same time, there is now converging evidence that this has something to do with the extent to which we identify with one over the other (Haslam et al., 2014(11), 2015(2); Reicher and Haslam, 2011a(12); Reicher et al., 2012(13)).
There are three areas in particular that need to be addressed in the future
1) We need to investigate the way in which different situational arrangements affect group formation and identification between the participant and the different parties within the obedience paradigm (Reicher and Haslam, 2011a(12), 2011b(14)).
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2) We need to understand what sort of appeals make people side with the experimenter rather than with the learner, as well as the impact that participants’ own discourse has on their ability to disengage from these parties.
3) The aspect of language: only one of the exhortations, prods and prompts used be the experimenter in the studies is a direct order. In their replication study Burger and colleagues found that every time the experimenter gave this final prod, participants refused to continue (Burger, Girgis and Manning, 2011(15)), and in controlled studies of our own we observe that prod 4 (‘You have no other choice, you must go on’). is singularly ineffective in securing compliance (Haslam et al., 2014(11), 2015(16)). This is powerful evidence against the notion that participants in Milgram’s studies are simply following orders.
1. Slater, M., Antley, A., Davison, A., Swapp, D., Guger, C., Barker, C., et al. (2006) ‘A virtual reprise of the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments’, PLoS ONE, 1: e39.
2 Haslam, S.A., Reicher, S.D. and Millard, K. (2015) Shock treatment: Using immersive digital realism to restage and re-examine Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ research. PLoS ONE, 1O(3):e109015.
3. Burger, J. (2009a) ‘In their own words: Explaining obedience through an examination of participants’ comments’. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, Portland, ME, 15—17 October.
4. Bocchiaro, P. and Zimbardo, P.G. (2010) ‘Defying unjust authority: An exploratory study, Current Psychology, 29: 155—70.
5. Dimow, J. (2004) ‘Resisting authority: A personal account of the Milgram obedience experiments’, Jewish Currents, January.
6. Jetten,J. and Mols, F. (2014) 5O:5O hindsight: Appreciating anew the contributions of Mi1grams obedience experiments, Journal of Social Issues, 70: 587—602.
7. Passini, S. and Morselli, D. (2009) 1Authority relationships between obedience and disobedience &, New Ideas in Psychology, 27: 9 6—106.
8. Rochat, F. and Modigliani, A. (1995) 4The ordinary quality of resistance: From Milgram’s laboratory to the village of Le Chambon’, Journal of Social Issues, 51: 195—210.
9. Meeus, W.H.J. and Raaijmakers, Q.A. (1995) ‘Obedience in modem society: The Utrecht studies’, Journal of Social Issues, 5 1: 155—75.
10. Goidhagen, D. (1996) Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. London: Little, Brown.
11. Haslam, S.A., Reicher, S.D. and Birney, M. (2014) ‘Nothing by mere authority: Evidence that in an experimental analogue of the Miigram paradigm participants are motivated not by orders but by appeals to science’, Journal of Social Issues, 70:473—88.
12. Reicher, S. and Haslam, S.A. (201 la) 4After shock? Towards a social identity explanation of the Milgram “obedience” studies’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 50: 163—9.
13. Reicher, S.D., Haslam, S.A. and Smith, J.R. (2012) 1Working towards the experimenter: Reconceptualizing obedience within the Milgram paradigm as identification-based followership’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7: 315—24.
14. Reicher, S.D. and Haslam, S.A. (201 lb) ‘Culture of shock: Milgram’s obedience studies fifty years on’, Scientific American Mind, 2 2(6): 3 0—5.
15. Burger, J.M., Girgis, Z.M., and Manning, C.C. (2011) ðln their own words: Explaining obedience to authority through an examination of participants’ comments’, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2:460—6.
16. Haslam, S.A., Reicher, S.D. Millard, K. and McDonald, R. (2015) “Happy to have been of service”: The Yale archive as a window into the engaged followership of participants in Milgram’s “obedience” experiments’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 54: 55—83.
Stephen Reicher and S. Alexander Haslam, „Obedience. Revisiting Milgram’s shock experiments”, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017