Re: discipline and punish

A note on the Nazi tendencies of particular culture.

The most interesting studies were undertaken by S. Milgram in the early 60's.
He initially felt that there must be some character problem with the German
people and that Americans would never go along with exterminations of people
just because an authority asked them to.
As a sketch, he set up a learning situation were one subject taught
another subject to learn a word list by repeating the list and shocking the
learner when mistakes occured. Both subjects were allowed to experience a 1st
level shock - quite a little jolt. The teacher was moved to a separate room
and the subject was suppose to be connected to the shocker. (actually, the
learner was a fake subject, no-one was connected to the shocker.-pre-board
of ethics days). Anyway, the Teacher was asked to give the subject blasts of
electricity that ranged from 1 to 10 and then there were 3 X X X settings
above 10. A tape was put on in the other room and the teacher could not see,
but could hear the crys and eventual begging of the learner. If the teacher
mentioned that this might be hurting the subject, a person in a white lab
coat simply said "Its important that we go on with the experiment." After the
10 level shocks, there was no sound from the learner, as if killed by the
In the first round of subjects, all completed the task, simulating the
killing of the learner. Later test occasionally had subjects that refused,
but most finished. These were Americans, many students from our finest
colleges. Milgram, of course, had to change his hypothesis and recognize the
potential for this kind of behavior in human nature as a broader event.
I may be a bit off on some of this story, I haven't read the stuff for
awwhile, so I've included references.

Milgram, S. (1964). Issues in the study of obedience: A reply to Baumrind.
_American Psychologist_ 19, 848-852.

--------. (1965). Some conditions of obedience and disobedience to authority.
_Human Relations_ 18(1), 57-76.

--------. (1974). _Obedience to authority. New York:Harper&Row.

-- Richard Wilkerson

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