Obedience to Authority

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A part of Harper Perennial’s special “Resistance Library” highlighting classic works that illuminate our times:  A special edition reissue of Stanley Milgram’s landmark examination of humanity’s susceptibility to authoritarianism.

“The classic account of the human tendency to follow orders, no matter who they hurt or what their consequences.” — Washington Post Book World

In the 1960s, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram famously carried out a series of experiments that forever changed our perceptions of morality and free will. The subjects—or “teachers”—were instructed to administer electroshocks to a human “learner,” with the shocks becoming progressively more powerful and painful. Controversial but now strongly vindicated by the scientific community, these experiments attempted to determine to what extent people will obey orders from authority figures regardless of consequences. “Milgram’s experiments on obedience have made us more aware of the dangers of uncritically accepting authority,” wrote Peter Singer in the New York Times Book Review.

With an introduction from Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, Obedience to Authority is Milgram’s fascinating and troubling chronicle of his classic study and a vivid and persuasive explanation of his conclusions.

 

 

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About the author

Stanley Milgram taught social psychology at Yale University and Harvard University before becoming a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His honors and awards include a Ford Foundation fellowship, an -American Association for the Advancement of Science sociopsychological prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship. He died in 1984 at the age of fifty-one.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
Jul 11, 2017
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780062803405
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Emotions
Psychology / Experimental Psychology
Psychology / Social Psychology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Bridging Social Psychology illuminates the unique contribution the field of social psychology can bring to understanding major scientific and societal problems. The book focuses on illustrating the benefits and costs of bridging social psychology with other fields of psychology, including cognitive, developmental, and personality psychology, as well as other disciplines such as biology, neuroscience and economics. The editor’s hope is that the examination of these bridges will result in new theoretical, methodological, and societal benefits.

The 65 essays, written by eminent leaders in the field, demonstrate the relationship of social psychology with: (1) biology, neuroscience and cognitive science; (2) personality, emotion, and development; (3) relationship science, interaction, and health; and (4) organizational science, culture, and economics. The book also examines the key assumptions of social psychology, where the field is headed, and its unique contribution to basic theoretical and broad societal questions (e.g. promoting health in society). Section introductions tie the book together. The book concludes with an enlightening Epilogue by Walter Mischel.

This book will appeal to scholars, researchers, and advanced students in social psychology wishing to demonstrate the cross-disciplinary aspect of their research. It will also be of interest to those in neighboring fields of psychology, especially personality, organizational, health, cognitive, and developmental psychology, as well as those in neuroscience, biology, sociology, communication, economics, political science, and anthropology. The user-friendly tone makes the book accessible to those with only a basic knowledge of social psychology. The book also serves as a text for advanced courses in social psychology and/or applied psychology. A helpful table, found on the book’s Web site, indicates the cross-disciplinary applications addressed in each essay, to make it easier to assign the book in courses.

The definitive firsthand account of the groundbreaking research of Philip Zimbardo—the basis for the award-winning film The Stanford Prison Experiment

Renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo explores the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

The Lucifer Effect explains how—and the myriad reasons why—we are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side.” Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women. 

Here, for the first time and in detail, Zimbardo tells the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the landmark study in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into “guards” and “inmates” and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”—the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

This is a book that dares to hold a mirror up to mankind, showing us that we might not be who we think we are. While forcing us to reexamine what we are capable of doing when caught up in the crucible of behavioral dynamics, though, Zimbardo also offers hope. We are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically. Like Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.

Praise for The Lucifer Effect

“The Lucifer Effect will change forever the way you think about why we behave the way we do—and, in particular, about the human potential for evil. This is a disturbing book, but one that has never been more necessary.”—Malcolm Gladwell

“An important book . . . All politicians and social commentators . . . should read this.”—The Times (London)

“Powerful . . . an extraordinarily valuable addition to the literature of the psychology of violence or ‘evil.’”—The American Prospect

“Penetrating . . . Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world’s ills.”—Publishers Weekly

“A sprawling discussion . . . Zimbardo couples a thorough narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment with an analysis of the social dynamics of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”—Booklist

“Zimbardo bottled evil in a laboratory. The lessons he learned show us our dark nature but also fill us with hope if we heed their counsel. The Lucifer Effect reads like a novel.”—Anthony Pratkanis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California
When social psychologist Stanley Milgram invited volunteers to take part in an experiment at Yale in the summer of 1961, none of the participants could have foreseen the worldwide sensation that the published results would cause. Milgram reported that fully 65 percent of the volunteers had repeatedly administered electric shocks of increasing strength to a man they believed to be in severe pain, even suffering a life-threatening heart condition, simply because an authority figure had told them to do so. Such behavior was linked to atrocities committed by ordinary people under the Nazi regime and immediately gripped the public imagination. The experiments remain a source of controversy and fascination more than fifty years later.

In Behind the Shock Machine, psychologist and author Gina Perry unearths for the first time the full story of this controversial experiment and its startling repercussions. Interviewing the original participants—many of whom remain haunted to this day about what they did—and delving deep into Milgram’s personal archive, she pieces together a more complex picture and much more troubling picture of these experiments than was originally presented by Milgram. Uncovering the details of the experiments leads her to question the validity of that 65 percent statistic and the claims that it revealed something essential about human nature. Fleshed out with dramatic transcripts of the tests themselves, the book puts a human face on the unwitting people who faced the moral test of the shock machine and offers a gripping, unforgettable tale of one man’s ambition and an experiment that defined a generation.

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