A Cautionary Note: Obedience to Authority

Most people in positions of authority—managers, teachers, and parents, for example—spend time worrying about how they will get employees, students, and children to listen to them and obey them. Yet few people in positions of authority worry about an equally troubling problem: People are likely to obey those in positions of authority even when doing so is unethical and against their own conscience.

In the 1960s, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted one of the most well-known and disturbing experiments on human behavior. Born in 1933, Milgram grew up during World War II. Like many psychologists of his era, he wanted to understand why so many seemingly normal people were willing to follow Hitler's ...

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