In everyday situations, we are apparently inclined to obey orders because we believe we will be rewarded for it or because we wish to avoid the negative consequences of disobeying or simply because we believe in the legitimacy of authority figures. When the morality of our actions is questioned, we may justify our behaviour by assigning responsibility to authority figures rather than to ourselves.
The Milgram Experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, who wished to uncover the factors that led Nazi soldiers in World War Two Germany to follow Hitler’s orders to exterminate six million Jews. Participants in his experiment were instructed by a figure of authority to administer electric shocks to another person. The study demonstrated that people obey either out of fear or out of a desire to appear cooperative, even when they are acting against their own better judgment and sense of morality.
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