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Stanley Milgram's Biography 
	Now Available! 
	The Man who Shocked the World
Little Known Facts -
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Betcha didn't know...

Although Milgram was to become one of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, he never took a single psychology course as an undergraduate at Queens College, where he obtained his BA in Political Science. He changed career goals in his senior year and applied to the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at Harvard's Department of Social Relations. Rejected at first because he did not have any background in psychology, he was accepted provisionally after he took six psychology courses at three different New York-area schools in the summer of 1954.

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In the fall of 1962, a year before the appearance of his first journal article on his obedience research, the American Psychological Association (APA) put Milgram's membership application "on hold" because of questions raised about the ethics of that research. After an investigation by the APA produced a favorable result, they admitted him.

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The first published criticism of his obedience experiments appeared in an unusual place. In the fall of 1963, right after the first appearance of his research in a journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial criticizing him and Yale for the highly stressful experience he created for his subjects. Milgram found out about the editorial from a St. Louis social psychologist, Robert Buckhout. As a result, Milgram was able to write a rebuttal that the newspaper subsequently published on its editorial page.

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In August, 1976, CBS presented a prime-time dramatization of the obedience experiments and the events surrounding them, titled "The Tenth Level." William Shatner had the starring role as Stephen Hunter, the Milgram-like scientist. Milgram served as a consultant for the film. While it contains a lot of fictional elements, it powerfully conveyed enough of the essence of the true story for its writer, George Bellak, to receive Honorable Mention in the American Psychological Association's media awards for 1977.

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Milgram's "shock machine" still exists. It can be found at the Archives of the History of American Psychology at the University of Akron. For a number of years, beginning in 1992, it was part of a traveling psychology exhibit created by the American Psychological Association.

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Milgram's mentoring style was to be supportive of his students' interests rather than impose his own research interests on them. Although he chaired the largest number of Ph.D. theses in the Psychology Department while at the Graduate Center of CUNY from 1967-84, only one of them was an obedience experiment: A "role-played" version conducted by Daniel Geller in 1975, using Milgram's machine.

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Who are more obedient -men or women? Milgram found an identical rate of obedience in both groups-65%--although obedient women consistently reported more stress than men. There are about a dozen replications of the obedience experiment world-wide which had male and female subjects. All of them, with one exception, also found no male-female differences.

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Would Milgram find less obedience if he conducted his experiments today? I doubt it. To go beyond speculation on this question, I carried out the following statistical analysis. I gathered all of Milgram's standard obedience experiments and the replications conducted by other researchers. The experiments spanned a 25-year period from 1961 to 1985. I did a correlational analysis relating each study's year of publication and the amount of obedience it found. I found a zero-correlation-that is, no relationship whatsoever. In other words, on the average, the later studies found no more or less obedience than the ones conducted earlier. A more detailed report of this finding, as well as the finding on sex-differences described in the previous paragraph, can be found in my article, "The Milgram paradigm after 35 years: Some things we now know about obedience to authority," which appears in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1999, Vol. 25, pp. 955-978.

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Rock musician, Peter Gabriel, was a serious and avid admirer of Milgram. His album, "So," which came out in 1986, contains a track titled, "We do what we're told-Milgram's 37." What does the "37" refer to? The answer is posted in the Question of the Month section of the website.

 


 

 



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