Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Replication of Milgram's obedience study

Professor Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University recently conducted a partial replication of Milgram's famous experiment on obedience to authority. This story is fascinating for many reasons.

One, he got the experiment approved by the the IRB at his university.

Two, his results were similar Milgram's. Burger wrote the following on his web site.

I recently conducted a partial replication of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience studies that allowed for useful comparisons with the original investigations while protecting the well-being of participants. We found obedience rates in 2006 only slightly lower than what Milgram found 45 years earlier. Contrary to expectation, participants who saw a confederate refuse the experimenter’s instructions obeyed as often as those who saw no model. Men and women did not differ in their rate of obedience, but we found some evidence that individual differences in empathic concern and desire for control affected participants’ responses.

The research was featured in the January 3, 2007 broadcast of ABC News’ Primetime. You can see a short summary of that broadcast at

You can purchase a copy of the broadcast at

A paper describing the study is in press at American Psychologist. You can read a pre-copyedited version of the paper here: (Replicating Milgram)"

Stanley Milgram was a fascinating fellow himself and had a talent for designing insightful experiments. He was also the first to come up concepts such as six degrees of separation and the familiar stranger.

1 comment:

Mausburger said...

This experiment was in the news again:

The BBC reported that the results this time around were pretty much the same as last time.