Wednesday, January 2, 2008

milgram's back

via the situationist and ccjrc:

Students commonly assume that, even if Milgram’s famous experiment sheds important light on the power of situation today, were his experiment precisely reproduced today, it would not generate comparable results. To oversimplify the argument behind that claim: The power of white lab coats just ain’t what it used to be. Of course, that assertion has been difficult to challenge given that the option of replicating the Milgram experiment has been presumptively unavailable — indeed, it has been the paradigmatic example of why psychology experiments must be reviewed by institutional review boards (”IRBs”).

Who would even attempt to challenge that presumption? The answer: Jerry Burger, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. With some slight modifications, Burger manage to obtain permission to replicate Milgram’s experiment — and the results may surprise you...

in my view, the results are less surprising than the fact that the study gained institutional review board approval. apart from the post, i quickly found a number of related classroom-friendly materials online. you can check professor burger's first-hand account of the irb process, play a 27-minute primetime clip of the new study, and read philip zimbardo's thoughtful summary, ten lessons from the milgram studies (the latter adapted from the lucifer effect, his 2007 book with random house).

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