If you were a reporter instructed by your editor to hack into a grieving parent’s phone, would you do it? If you were a Syrian soldier ordered to fire on unarmed protesters, would you obey? What if you were asked by a white-coated scientist to deliver lethal electric shocks as part of an experiment?
Your answer to all of these questions will undoubtedly be “no” – or at least, “I hope not”. Certainly when Stanley Milgram put the last question to 110 Americans — psychiatrists, students and middle-class adults — all of them insisted that they would defy anyone in authority who asked them to do such a terrible thing.
But Milgram was not satisfied with this answer. Fifty years ago, in what are still being celebrated as the most famous psychology experiment of all time, he examined what would happen when people were confronted with this scenario in real life.
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