The Situationist

Disobedience at 150 volts

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 26, 2008

For our many readers interested in the Milgram obedience experiments, Dominic J. Packer published a valuable paper, “Identifying Systematic Disobedience in Milgram’s Obedience Experiments: A Meta-Analytic Review” (3 Perspectives on Psychol. Sci. 3-1 (2008)).  Here’s the abstract.

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A meta-analysis of data from eight of Milgram’s obedience experiments reveals previously undocumented systematicity in the behavior of disobedient participants. In all studies, disobedience was most likely at 150 v, the point at which the shocked “learner” first requested to be released. Further illustrating the importance of the 150-v point, obedience rates across studies covaried with rates of disobedience at 150 v, but not at any other point; as obedience decreased, disobedience at 150 v increased. In contrast, disobedience was not associated with the learner’s escalating expressions of pain. This analysis identifies a critical decision point in the obedience paradigm and suggests that disobedient participants perceived the learner’s right to terminate the experiment as overriding the experimenter’s orders, a finding with potential implications for the treatment of prisoners.

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To download a pdf draft version of the article, click here. For a collection of Situationist posts discussing Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments, click here.

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3 Responses to “Disobedience at 150 volts”

  1. Excellent. Although it’s interesting that in Milgram’s Experiment 9, in which the “victim” specifically said before the experiment that he was only willing to take part if he could quit at any time, full obedience was still 40%…

    I’ve got some thoughts on lesser-known aspects of the Milgram experiments here.

  2. [...] Milgram research Jump to Comments The Situationist Blog recently posted about an interesting new study on the human ability to inflict pain on [...]

  3. [...] To read the entire article, click here.  To read some related Situationist posts, see “David Vitter, Eliot Spitzer, and Now John Edwards: The Disposition Is Weaker than the Situation,” “Solomon Asch’s Conformity Experiment . . . Today,” and “Solomon Asch’s Classic Group-Influence Experiment.”  For a list of previous Situationist posts discussing Milgram’s research click here. [...]

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