Explanations of why people obey. (Milgram, 1974)

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  • MILGRAM (1974)
    • Agentic shift
    • Justifying obedience
    • Gradual commitment
    • The role of buffers
    • Mandel (1998)
      • Suggested that by focusing solely on obedience to explain atrocities against humanity Milgram was ignoring many other explanations.
    • Goldhagan (1996)
      • Identifies anti-Semitism as the main reason for the holocaust not obedience.
      • Supports this claim with countless examples of voluntary and unnecessary cruelty carried out by ordinary Germans against Jews.
    • Browning (1992)
      • There were many differences between Milgram's study and the experience of the holocaust.
        • Experiment only lasted 30 minutes the holocaust took place over a 4-year period.
        • Milgram's participants were told that "although the shocks may be painful, there is no permamnet tissue damage".
      • Milgram still believed that the same psychological process and agentic shift was at work.
    • Mandel (1998)
      • The use of an 'obedience alibi' has a number of consequences
        • The conclusion that obedience has a key role in the holocaust is unjustified.
        • The suggestion that holocaust perpetrators were merely 'obeying orders' is distressing for those who were affected by the holocaust.
        • It exonerates war criminals of their crimes.


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