Perils of obedience: response paper article review examples

The ‘ Perils of Obedience’ by Staley Milgram (1973) apparently looked similar to any other experiment in the field of Psychology that would produce numerous findings to validate an assumption. However, when I read the experiences of the subjects along with the association of the experiment with the real world, I realized how it grasps my attention to things that have always been an integral part of my life and the society. This experiment has its roots in the Holocaust where upon accusing Eichmann of the atrocities, his response was in terms of being obliged to the authority. In this regard, the society is structured in such a way that since childhood, every individual is instructed to follow and obey his teachers, parents and the elderly. This instigated idea is then produced throughout the life in varying situations which ultimately results in a conflict between blindly obeying others and going against values and personal preferences. This idea forms the basis of Milgram’s (1973) study where subjects also hold similar view in regard to the conflict of values. This makes me wonder as to how often do we come across the clash of values. For instance, feeding the poor is what I value. On the other hand, my mother often suggests me to refrain from the habit because of her experience with the poor who are thankless and cruel. In this way, obeying her is my duty and an important part of my values. Therefore, for the sake of one value, I have to compromise the other. Similarly, Milgram (1973) has coherently outlined this view by stating the example of the feelings of the participants who do not want to harm others but had no other choice because of their obligation towards the authority. In almost every aspect of life, people have to follow the authority because of the sense of obligation and duty they have towards the person in power. In this way, people usually channel their sense of responsibility for the consequences of an action towards their responsibility to follow the commands of the person in charge. In the process of conforming, people often lose their own individuality and have to compromise things they desire. Quite often, as in the case of Milgram’s (1973) experiment, people follow those in power regardless of the fact that they do not exercise any punishment or offer an incentive. In other words, it is just the matter of position and status which makes people obey others. Also, several times people conform to be a part of the society and to be accepted mainly because of their fear to be labeled as deviant. In contrast, Milgram (1973) is of the opinion that instead of being interested in the consequences, people are more directed towards simply obeying the person in authority because of the sense of accomplishment and happiness they achieve upon obeying and doing their job properly.
Also, Milgram’s (1973) study outlines the idea that when in power, people do not often portray their aggression and ruthlessness towards the society. In my opinion, this is not always the case. Although Milgram’s study is directed towards physical pain, my personal experience with friends, family and lovers have made me see people inflicting pain upon others through words, actions and behaviors in the form of sabotage, backstabbing, mind games, breaking hearts and hurting people. Therefore, it might be true that all powerful people are not ruthless, but it is certain that power gives a person the ability to easily damage any soul.
The Perils of Obedience made me wonder as to why the author presented a number of mixed opinions as per the experiences of the participants. However, upon analyzing the experiment in-depth, I realized that by depicting the complete picture, Milgram (1973) reduced the chances of biasness. In this way, it helped the human mind explore the truth of responsibility, obedience and obligations from a number of different perspectives that would make one realize the importance of personal values and the need to obey the authority. Hence, the experiment outlays that not in all circumstances did participants actually adhere to the experimenter. However, although there were instances when the teachers wanted to stop or even leave the experiment, majority of the individuals obeyed the authority regardless of any punishment or incentive coming from the experimenter. Thus, it is not only the satisfaction that is achieved by obeying someone powerful, but it is also the way society nurtures individuals on the dimension of obedience and obligations.


Milgram, Stanley. “ The Perils of Obedience.” Harper’s Magazine Dec. 1973: 62+. Print.