Zoe Weil is a blogger for Psychology Today (PT), and twice a month we share her blog posts here. Enjoy!
When you read this command, how does it make you feel?
If you’re like many people, your shoulders may slump. You may feel triggered by childhood memories of parents and teachers admonishing you with those words. You may feel shamed, resistant, hostile.
But taking responsibility for our choices, actions, and the impacts we have on ourselves and others can be liberating.
After the famous Milgram experiment—in which ordinary people obeyed the orders of a scientist who instructed them to deliver increasingly painful and dangerous shocks to a person they’d just met—participants were surveyed to discover how they felt about their involvement in the experiment.
What they didn’t know when they arrived at Yale University for the study was that the experiment they thought they were participating in—the impact of punishment on learning—was a ruse. The participants themselves were the actual subjects of a social psychology experiment designed to shed light on our tendency to obey authority figures, even when what we are being told to do goes against our own deeply-held values.