In a new study, most people willingly pulled a lever to deliver pain to others when instructed to do so, showing that little has changed in the near half-century since psychologist Stanley Milgram’s famous electric shock experiment. Milgram’s experiment revealed our propensity to do harm when encouraged by authority, a topic of great interest in the post-World War II years. A new iteration of the experiment (with added precautions) revealed that seven out of ten people will give painful electric shocks to another person as part of what they are told is a scientific investigation. “What we found is validation of the same argument—if you put people into certain situations, they will act in surprising, and maybe often even disturbing, ways,” [Reuters] says researcher Jerry Burger.The post goes on to point out that "Burger believes his study demonstrates not only the power of blind obedience, but also that certain situations normalize immoral behavior. In this case, the gradual incremental nature of the task—administering slightly more painful shocks each time—may have eased the shift from normal behavior, he suggests."
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