The women who defied the Milgram Experiment

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One of the fundamental aspects of social interaction is that some individuals have more influence than others. Bosses have power over their workers, parents have power over their children, and, more generally, we can say that those in authority have power over their subordinates. In short, power refers to the process of social influence itself—those who have power are those who are most able to influence others. The powerful ability of those in authority to control others was demonstrated in a remarkable set of studies performed by Stanley Milgram Milgram was interested in understanding the factors that lead people to obey the orders given by people in authority. He designed a study in which he could observe the extent to which a person who presented himself as an authority would be able to produce obedience, even to the extent of leading people to cause harm to others. Milgram used newspaper ads to recruit men and in one study, women from a wide variety of backgrounds to participate in his research. When the research participant arrived at the lab, he or she was introduced to a man who the participant believed was another research participant but who was actually an experimental confederate.

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