“Torture at Yale”: Experimental subjects, laboratory torment and the “rehabilitation” of Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority”.

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  • Author(s): Nicholson, Ian
  • Source:
    Theory & Psychology. Dec2011, Vol. 21 Issue 6, p737-761. 25p.
  • Additional Information
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      Stanley Milgram’s experiments on “Obedience to Authority” are among the most criticized in all of psychology. However, over the past 20 years, there has been a gradual rehabilitation of Milgram’s work and reputation, a reconsideration that is in turn closely linked to a contemporary “revival” of his Obedience experiments. This paper provides a critical counterpoint to this “Milgram revival” by drawing on archival material from participants in the Obedience study and Milgram himself. This material indicates that Milgram misrepresented (a) the extent of his debriefing procedures, (b) the risk posed by the experiment, and (c) the harm done to his participants. The archival record also indicates that Milgram had doubts about the scientific value of the experiment, thereby compromising his principal ethical justification for employing such extreme methods. The article ends with a consideration of the implications of these historical revelations for contemporary efforts to revive the Milgram paradigm. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]
    • Abstract:
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