The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority.— Stanley Milgram
The most inspiring Stanley Milgram quotes that are proven to give you inner joy
It is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.
It may be that we are puppets-puppets controlled by the strings of society.
But at least we are puppets with perception, with awareness. And perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation. (1974)
A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act, and without pangs of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.
I would say, on the basis of having observe a thousand people in the experiment and having my own intuition shaped and informed by these experiments, that if a system of death camps were set up in the United States of the sort we had seen in Nazi Germany, one would find sufficient personnel for those camps in any medium-sized American town.
Relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
The essence in obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as an instrument for carrying out another person's wishes and he therefore no longer regards himself as responsible for his actions.
And perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation.
The soldier does not wish to appear a coward, disloyal, or un-American.
The situation has been so defined that he can see himself as patriotic, courageous, and manly only through compliance.
When an individual wishes to stand in opposition to authority, he does best to find support for his position from others in his group. The mutual support provided by men for each other is the strongest bulwark we have against the excesses of authority.
But the culture has failed, almost entirely, in inculcating internal controls on actions that have their origin in authority. For this reason, the latter constitutes a far greater danger to human survival.
Only in action can you fully realize the forces operative in social behavior.
That is why I am an experimentalist.
Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others.
Even Eichmann was sickened when he toured the concentration camps.
Although a person acting under authority performs actions that seem to violate standards of conscience, it would not be true to say that he loses his moral sense. Instead, it acquires a radically different focus. He does not respond with a moral sentiment to the actions he performs. Rather, his moral concern now shifts to a consideration of how well he is living up to the expectations that the authority has of him.
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
Each individual possesses a conscience which to a greater or lesser degree serves to restrain the unimpeded flow of impulses destructive to others. But when he merges his person into an organizational structure, a new creature replaces autonomous man, unhindered by the limitations of individual morality, freed of humane inhibition, mindful only of the sanctions of authority.
Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purpose. It is the dispositional cement that binds men to systems of authority.
I started with the belief that every person who came to the laboratory was free to accept or to reject the dictates of authority. This view sustains a conception of human dignity insofar as it sees in each man a capacity for choosing his own behavior. And as it turned out, many subjects did, indeed, choose to reject the experimenter's commands, providing a powerful affirmation of human ideals.
Perhaps the challenge is to invent the political structure that will give conscience a better chance against authority.
It is easy to ignore responsibility when one is only an intermediate link in a chain of action.
For a person to feel responsible for his actions, he must sense that the behavior has flowed from the self.
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.