The Psychologist on Milgram and the shock of the old

The August issue of The Psychologist is an open-access special edition on Stanley Milgram and his obedience studies that continue to cast a dark shadow over our understanding of human nature.

The issue has articles that look back on the legacy of his obedience studies, his treatment by historians and a personal view written by his widow, Alexandra Milgram, on the man himself.

But a particular highlight is a piece on his pioneering and almost cinematic use of film in his appropriately dramatic studies:

…in the popular imagination, Obedience and the ‘obedience to authority’ trials have become conflated and are now one and the same, despite the fact that the film only provides substantial documentation of one condition out of more than 20 that were investigated. Milgram’s documentaries and thoughtful writings on film, television and photography point to the value of narrative and audio-visual methods of research. The Obedience footage, however, does not support his claim that people ‘mindlessly follow authority’. On the contrary, it provides detailed audio-visual evidence that people experience considerable strain and anguish in following orders that conflict with their own consciences.

All the articles are free to read as is the rest of the issue. Enjoy.

Link to August edition of The Psychologist.

Declaration of interest: I’m an unpaid associate editor and occasional columnist for The Psychologist. The editor has not yet needed to use electric shocks on me.

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