Crimes of Obedience

Crimes of obedience result from the tendency of ordinary people to commit illegal, immoral, or unethical acts against others when ordered by someone in authority or having power over them. There have been many examples of such crimes in the world's history, including the My Lai Massacre, in Vietnam, and the Holocaust, in Germany. Several psychological studies have examined this type of behavior.

Milgram's Experiment in Obedience

Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, performed an experiment to study the conflict between an individual's obedience to authority and personal conscience. He wanted to understand how someone might justify acts of genocide. In the experiment, he enlisted student volunteers to administer electric shocks of increasing intensity to the “subjects,” also called “learners,” on the other side of a ...

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