Following The Fold

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade September 2001

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

People have been highly socially involved since the beginning of time. Almost everything has been created by humans working together. Being socially involved has caused people to somewhat leave their own opinions and follow the crowd. This is caused by social pressure and authoritative figures. It can be difficult for someone to keep their own judgment or opinion when in a group. Many people are persuaded by the majority even if the majority is wrong. People can feel uncomfortable if their opinions are not the same as the people around them.

Stanley Milgram, of Harvard University, wanted to test how people would react in certain situations. He wanted to see how individuals would respond to actually doing harm on someone because someone told them to. There was no physical result for pushing the button if they said no. The subjects assumed that the "teacher" knew what they were doing.

The participants therefore thought that what they were doing was acceptable even if they believed that it was wrong. The subjects did what a higher authority told them to do instead of using their own free will. Milgram originally thought most of the people would stop the experiment because they were actually shocking another person. This theory was proven wrong; most of the subjects were obedient to what the "teacher" told them to do. This supports the theory that people will succumb to authority. Milgram explains his results by saying, "For many, obedience is a deeply ingrained behavior tendency, indeed a potent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct." It is obvious that the suicide bombers of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States were just following the orders of an authoritative figure. No one in their right mind would kill themselves along with thousands of others,