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date: 07 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Most obedience research is concerned with the kind of destructive obedience demonstrated in Milgram’s famous studies. A large number of participants in those investigations followed an experimenter’s instructions to administer what they believe to be excruciating if not dangerous electric shocks to another individual. Ethical concerns about Milgram’s procedures have forced researchers to develop new methods to study obedience, such as virtual reality procedures and partial replications. A small number of studies suggest that personality may affect obedience, but there is little evidence to date that culture or gender plays an important role. Milgram’s interpretation of his findings has been largely rejected, but explanations based on the relationship between the experimenter and the participant and on situational variables that affect social influence processes are promising. The extent to which Milgram’s findings help us understand the obedience that contributed to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany remains a topic of debate.

Keywords: obedience, authority, Milgram, ethics, Holocaust

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