How and Why Milgram's Research on Obedience Contributed to Our Understanding of Human Behaviour

How and why Milgram’s research on obedience contributed to our understanding of human behaviour
This report aims to
  * Briefly outline Milgram’s obedience to authority study.
  * Explain how and why Milgram’s work on obedience contributed to our understanding of human behaviour.
  * Why are these findings relevant today?
Milgram was one of the most pioneering and dynamic social psychologists of his generation. He embarked on many studies which examined social psychological aspects of everyday life (Banyard 2010 p.67) Milgram is probably most notable for his obedience to authority study; which is noted as the study which would define social psychology over the next fifty years. (Banyard 2010 p.62)
His work was inspired by the question how could the horrors of the second world have happened and how could they be prevented in the future.   His objective was to explore what made individuals do evil things, if they were put in a situation where there was an authoritive figure insisting they cause harm to another person. Would they choose to comply or would their personal conscience drive them to do the right thing? The reason Milgram’s research became so ground breaking was because it held up a mirror for people to see themselves in and the image wasn’t as nice as they expected (Banyard 2010 p.63)
The Experiment
Milgram’s study of obedience is one of the most famous psychological studies of the 20th century, with far reaching implications for our understanding of human behaviour and cruelty The experimenter orders the teacher whom is actually the subject of the experiment to give what the subject believes are painful electric shocks to a learner, who is actually an actor and colleague. The subjects believed that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual shocks, but in reality there were no shocks. Being separated from the subject, the colleague set up a pre-recorded tape which played sounds for each shock level. The experiment was...