“The last possible resort”: A forgotten prod and the in situ standardization of stanley milgram's voice-feedback condition

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24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article uses previously unpublished data from Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments to draw attention to a hitherto neglected procedural innovation of the voice-feedback condition. In 3 experimental sessions in this condition, the experimenter responded to a participant's attempted defiance by leaving the room, apparently to speak to the learner, before returning to assure the participant that the learner was willing or able to continue. This article documents the use of this tactic during the voice-feedback condition and highlights the negotiation surrounding the use of the tactic between Milgram and his confederate John Williams, who played the role of the experimenter. It is shown that the subsequent use of this tactic did not conform to the conditions for its use agreed by Milgram and Williams. Moreover, the tactic seems to have been dropped from both subsequent experimental conditions and Milgram's published accounts of his work. These observations are discussed in relation to historical work on experimentation in social psychology, research on standardization in the sociology of scientific knowledge, and in terms of their implications for theory and research on dis/obedience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-194
Number of pages18
JournalHistory of Psychology
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

Keywords

  • Discourse
  • Obedience
  • Rhetoric
  • Standardization
  • Stanley Milgram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Psychology(all)

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