Episode 93: The Milgram and Zimbardo Experiments

The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.
— Stanley Milgram
I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things, things that seem alien to their natures. Why do good people sometimes act evil? Why do smart people sometimes do dumb or irrational things?
— Philip Zimbardo

In the mid-twentieth century, social psychologists Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo conducted very influential and prominent experiments in the field which have had long lasting implications in our understanding of morality, independent decision making and perceptions of power over others. Though dated, each experiment lends to a discussion of dehumanization, which is rather common in our world today. This week, we welcome Naomi Ali to discuss some of the conclusions of both studies and how they might not be as black-and-white as some people might believe. How might the data be misinterpreted? What role did bias play in either experiment? Are people as helplessly suggestible as the studies might conclude?