The Milgram Obedience Experiment, The Perils of Obedience, By Kendra Cherry, About.com Guide
Why did so many of the participants in this experiment perform a seemingly sadistic act on the instruction of an authority figure? According to Milgram, there are a number of situational factors that can explain such high levels of obedience:
- The physical presence of an authority figure dramatically increased compliance.
- The fact that the study was sponsored by a trusted and authoritative academic institution led many participants to believe that the experiment must be safe.
- The selection of teacher and learner status seemed random. [no vengeance factor]
- Participants assumed that the experimenter was a competent expert.
- The shocks were said to be painful, not dangerous.
Milgram wrote, “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority” (Milgram, 1974).
Milgram’s experiment has become a classic in psychology, demonstrating the dangers of obedience.
The Milgram Experiment of 1961 was conducted to answer another question regarding the rise of Hitler and the Nazis (They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer, 1955). Milgram had “teachers”, authority figures, inflict electric shock on”students” who gave the wrong answers. The students, part of the experiment, did not receive any shocks but responded in greater and greater degrees of mock pain. The teachers were acting on instructions of the experimenter, the “authority” figure.
The experimenter issued a series of commands to prod the participant along:
- “Please continue.”
- “The experiment requires that you continue.”
- “It is absolutely essential that you continue.”
- “You have no other choice, you must go on.”
In other words, the experimenters wanted top know, “If a person in a position of authority ordered you to deliver a 400-volt electrical shock to another person, would you follow orders?”
“When Milgram posed this question to a group of Yale University students, it was predicted that no more than 3 out of 100 participants would deliver the maximum shock. In reality, 65% of the participants in Milgram’s study delivered the maximum shocks.”
Jump to today and the New America of HOA-Lands. Translate the experimenter as the HOA attorney or dictatorial HOA president or manager; the students as the homeowners; and the teachers as the go along board, ACC and the non-dictator presidents. These “go alongs” act on the “advice”, instructions or urgings of the above authority figures, the “experimenters.”
It is important for advocates to know that, “Later experiments conducted by Milgram indicated that the presence of rebellious peers dramatically reduced obedience levels. When other people refused to go along with the experimenters orders, 36 out of 40 participants refused to deliver the maximum shocks.”
That’s a resounding,
STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS! SPEAK OUT! CREATE REFORM GROUPS!
2 thoughts on “Before the HOA Syndrome there was The Milgram Experiment”
I never heard about that follow-up experiment where participants were much more likely to disobey (ie, do the right thing) if they saw others disobey. Pretty interesting, but not at all surprising, unfortunately.
With so many HOA members suffering from ‘HOA Passivity Syndrome,’ in Judith’s phrase, an aggrieved unit owner can’t count on his neighbors to do the right thing and stand up against an abusive HOA board.
The only practical way to level the playing field between the all-powerful board and the lowly unit owner is through serious condo law reform enacted by the states, as you advocate. But I’ve done a little research on the matter, and I frankly don’t see it happening anytime soon.
‘HOA Syndrome’, undoubtedly a valid condition, describes the victims of an HOA attacks.
Since there are an estimated 27 million plus Americans living in enforced deed-restricted ‘communities’, I think the perpetrators of the Syndrome and the passive ‘aiders and abettors’ should be defined specifically too.
My suggestion is ‘HOA Specific Personality Disorder’ -describing the prime perpetrators of what really amount to be a medly of hate crimes against their neighbors. Those who because of a unique opportunity to attain a local, unregulated dictatorial level of power, highly disproportionate to the norm for our country and for their individual skill and education levels, use the opportunity to fulfill their fantasies of grandiosity and absolute power. They successfully suppress their ‘common sense’ and morals and rely on the most twisted and narrow interpretation of ‘the rules’ in order to sow scorn, abuse and hate upon their neighbors. While insisting that they are the ‘normal’ ones and their hapless victims are just ‘disgruntled’ homeowners who will not follow their rules.
And perhaps also ‘HOA Passivity Syndrome’: Those who aid and abet by actively ignoring the chaos and maintaining absolute silence while their neighbors are abused. In false hope that this will make them immune to the same victimization or at least insure that it doesn’t happen to them at the same level.
A false hope, as ‘regular’ Germans found out in WWII, since it was eventually their sons and husbands who were ultimately sacrificed for cause after cause, including a war that most had no interest in pursuing. But by virtue of early pathologic passivity and refusing to address the ethical or practical issues, they ultimately made themselves as guilty as the original sadistic perpetrators.