Obedience to authority and the power of self-justification

1. Both Philip Zimbardo in The Lucifer Effect and Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson in Mistakes Were Made discuss Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment that was designed to try to understand how and why Hitler was able to get so many young people to kill, starve, and torture so many people in World War II.  The experiment led the participants to believe that they were shocking a person to see how punishment worked to motivate learners, slowly increasing the voltage each time. The combination of the participants desire to please the “authority” figure in the room, the scientist, and the participants ability to justify small increases in voltage led to participants agreeing to shock people with lethal voltages. 

 Purpose

The purpose of this forum is to get you thinking of some of the larger implications of these studies, making connection to our criminal justice system.

 Directions

 Identify one way that you see the potential for negative results of obedience to authority and self-justification playing out in any part of our policing and judicial processes. If others have posted already, read through their posts before writing your post. Try to come up with a new idea or add on significantly to an idea already posted. 

*300 words

*No outside resource, but you can use the information that I gave you before.

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