Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zimbardo Experiments vs Milgram Experiments


Both the Zimbardo and the Milgram experiments sought to demonstrate an individual's capacity for, and/or ambivalence towards, hurting another human being when placed in a position of power.


No similar reports of mental issues following the Milgram Experiments were reported. 

The Milgram Experiments claims to display that people are likely to obey authority even if it means hurting another human being.


The mere fact that anyone had mental issues at the hands of a psychologist screams unethical. That is exactly what happened in the Zimbardo experiment.

For the Milgram Experiments one can only assumed there were psychological ramifications for the participants (if one believes that there are [psychological ramifications for hurting another human being which the “teacher” participants were led to believe they did).

How Successful:

Both experiments seem possibly skewed towards results the experimenters wanted.

Zimbardo's very verb usage implies he was biased against the guards. Using statements such as "warned of their Miranda rights" opposed to "given their Miranda rights" makes the guards seem more threatening. 

Milgram sought to understand how something like the concentration camps in Nazi Germany came to pass. Although he did stumble upon some unconscionable attributes of human nature, the experiment does seem to disregard historical context of the rise of the Nazis.

My Conclusion About These Experiments: 

Both reminded me a bit of the experiments Henry Murray, a Harvard psychology professor, performed on a group of students, including a then teenage Ted Kaczynski.

If any of the participants, in any of the above experiments, knew what they were signing up for, would they have done so? Kaczynski said he would not have.

 Experiment I would Perform:

Since I am against most animal testing, I am invariably against human testing. Though I think Ted Kaczynski was predisposed to become the UnaBomber, I also believe it is possible that Murray’s experiment pushed him over the edge. The presentation of Kaczynski’s paranoid schizophrenia did not have to take such a dramatically violent turn.

If I were to do an experiment I would like to not have it be geared towards negativity, if that is possible. Maybe grab two strangers off the street and hand one $2 and present the option of giving one-dollar to the other person. Then, of course, both would have to fill out basic demographic info. Maybe it could be used to determine which socioeconomic strata are most likely to share, or if people with kids are more likely to share, etc. Maybe an experiment geared towards having results that reflect the good in people would find positive things in human nature.

At the minimum this experiment could be done indifferent manner making the results less likely to be skewed.

1 comment:

  1. I love your idea for an experiment! It could even be expanded to giving $50 and the participants would have the chance to share half & half or would they share only $10. Love it!