reading questions for
Stanley Milgram's Obedience to
Chapters 1, 2, & 3
- Describe the experimental paradigm used in the
- What argument does Milgram make that Eichmann
was an "uninspired bureaucrat"?
- What does Milgram cite as the "most
fundamental lesson" of his study?
- Do the subjects know what "ought to be done"
in the Milgram study?
- What keeps the subject obeying the
- What shift in moral concern occurs for
subjects in the study?
- Why would subjects devalue the
- Why were Yale students not used in the
- Why would it be important to balance the
occupations and ages of subjects?
- Why is the "cover story" about learning
important in the study. Could Milgram have gotten by without
deceiving his subjects?
- Why would it be important to have the teacher
announce the shock level each time?
- Why was it important to have the subject
shouting his protests?
Chapters 4, 5, & 6
- What 6 things in addition to "closeness" was
this manipulation changing? Can you think of others?
- How does tension point toward the strength of
"binding forces," forces pushing the subject to disobey, and to
the realism of the situation?
- Why must "a line be drawn between listening
carefully to what the subject says and mistaking it for the whole
- What differences occur in who the subjects
think is responsible for the victim's suffering?
- Why did the move to the basement and the
addition of the "heart condition" make little difference in
- Why would closeness of the authority make a
difference in obedience?
- What differences did women show in their stint
- What finding shows that "the social contract
doctrine is a feeble determinant of behavior"?
- What did moving the experiment to Bridgeport
do to the results of the study?
- Why is it important to allow subjects to shock
the victim at any level they want?
Chapters 7, 8, & 9
- Why was it important for Mrs. Dontz to "know
what rights I have"?
- Explain Mrs. Rosenblum's insistence in the
returned questionnaire that she had not really believed that the
victim was being shocked.
- When an ordinary man gives the orders to
shock, what happens to obedience?
- What could we manipulate to get people to
listen to the "ordinary man"?
- Why are people heroic in the "bystander"
study, but passive in the "peer administers shocks" study
(experiment 18 in chapter 9)?
- Why do subjects stop shortly after the
conflicting orders from experimenters?
- What are the differences between conformity
- What kinds of information does the subject get
when peers rebel?
- What other factors could contribute to
subjects increased disobedience?
- Why do subjects go all the way when another
person is doing the shock?
- What is the survival value of a
- Why is "instinct" not a good explanation for
- Why does the homeostatic model need an
- How is the inhibitor similar to a
- When is an inhibitory model essential in a
- Why does variability pose a problem for
function in a group? How does hierarchy overcome it?
- What is the "agentic shift"? How is it
different from autonomy?
- How do the cybernetic models fit in the move
between autonomy and agentic states?
- What are the antecedent conditions for
obedience? How can they increase or decrease
- Why is ideology important in establishing
conditions for obedience?
- What are the properties of the agentic
- Explain tuning, redefining of meaning, loss of
responsibility, and self image as they relate to
- Does morality disappear in the agentic
- What are the binding factors that keep a
person in the agentic state?
- What is strain?
- What are some of the sources of
- Why are buffers important in reducing
- What ways do people reduce strain?
- How are the ways of reducing strain
- Are the people studied in the experiment any
different from "regular folks"? Why might we be tempted to think
- Did subjects actually believe they were
shocking the victim? Cite evidence supporting belief?
- Can we generalize from this study to the "real
- Is the comparison of combustion to obedience
Epilogue & Appendices
- Identify Antecedent conditions, binding
factors, the agentic state, consequences, strain, and strain
resolution mechanisms in the transcript of the My Lai interview
and Milgram's description of military life.
- What do you think of the ethical issues
surrounding Milgram's studies?
- What does Milgram identify as "the central
moral justification" for allowing his experimental
- What differences in responsibility assignment
occurred between obedient and disobedient subjects? How, in terms
of Milgram's model, can we explain these differences?