The Cruel Experiment by Stanley Milgram

The cruel experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram is an explicit example of the initiatives, which are opposed to all possible ethical considerations. Nevertheless, it provided invaluable results allowing us to consider the nature of human obedience and the role of authority in the matter in detail (Markrho, 2010). According to the researchers, the presence of a figure empowered to give orders to other participants in the process had a tremendous impact on the latter (Markrho, 2010). They tend to do whatever their leader says without attempting to disobey the instructions regardless of how unethical they were. Therefore, the unwillingness of people to use their critical thinking in making decisions results in the transfer of responsibility to the authority.

The lack of logic in this process is directly connected to the manifestation of liability for one’s actions. As follows from the experiment, it was easily transferred to the authority figure without any doubts (Markrho, 2010). This fact allowed the people present during the process, including the executor, to feel free to be obedient even though they initially tried to resist (Markrho, 2010). However, their efforts in this direction were insufficient for combatting the power of the leader dictating the terms of the procedure and insisting on its continuation. In this way, the full responsibility for the subsequent event was seemingly on the researchers, whereas other people were performing all the acts of violence.

The question raised by the experiment was related to the nature of evil and led to the attempts to see if it was inherent in people or acquired in socialization at the time of personality formation. As can be seen from the outcome, in this case, only a small percentage of participants refused to continue hurting others at some point (Markrho, 2010). It allows concluding on the prevalence of society members who would willingly become a part of a community based on morally wrong values as it happened in Nazi Germany (Markrho, 2010). This situation seems to be alarming from the perspective of humankind’s future, which can be threatened by the leaders consciously playing the role resembling one of the experimenters in this case.

The initiative to test the process of making decisions by encouraging people to act against their will and obey the authority figures provided essential results for psychologists. However, such a test is unlikely to be conducted in present-day society due to more stringent regulations regarding the ethical aspect primarily related to the deception of participants. Even if it were possible, there would be no need to repeat it since people do not seem to change over time. The researchers already proved that everyone could be misled by the leaders they trust (Markrho, 2010). Therefore, the alleged outcome of a new attempt to demonstrate this mechanism would have similar results as in the original Milgram’s experiment.

To summarize, the presence of people who are perceived as the ones possessing authority above others would make the population obey them despite the initial motivation to resist. This consequence of power exploitation implies the refusal to take the responsibility for their actions, which leads to the acceptance of a subordinate position. Such a mechanism evokes thoughts about the role of inherent evil in human actions, whereas it is difficult to prove its contribution to the process. Nevertheless, it allows concluding on the probability of the gruesome occasion, which happened to Nazi Germany, in any place in the world under the condition of the presence of a suitable leader.


Markrho. (2010). Milgram obedience study [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "The Cruel Experiment by Stanley Milgram." September 19, 2023.