MILGRAM Aims and Context PY2

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  • Created on: 02-12-12 21:10
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Milgram's behavioural study of obedience.
Aims and context.
Milgram wanted to test the "Germans are different" hypothesis. He aimed to create a
situation where he could quantitatively measure how obedient individuals could be to a
destructive authority figure. This was because Milgram was studying at Yale University during
the time Eichmann's trial.
During WWII the Nazi's started the genocide of minority groups such as Jews, Gypsy's etc,
which is called the Holocaust. These minority groups were sent to concentration camps, the
most famous of which was Auschwitz which killed up to 12000 people a day.
Adolf Eichmann; Head of Jewish Affairs within the Gestapo, was in charge of implementing
the "Final Solution", which was the destruction of the Jewish Race. Milgram believed the
Holocaust could only have happened if a large number of people obeyed him which led him
to Question how it could be possible that so many people would obey such evil orders.
Two possible explanations: Internal and External
Internal
This was the most popular explanation at the time, that German's are different and
therefore would "obey orders without question".
Adveno described this type of person as having an Authoritarian personality, Obedient to
those of a higher status and harsh to those with a lower status. These people follow the
norms of society and are more likely to be prejudiced to minority groups due to displaced
anger from harsh upbringing.
An alternative explanation is shown in Eichmann's Trial which took place in Jerusalem, 1961.
Eichmann was described as "terrifyingly Normal" who claimed he was just obeying orders.

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