Criticisms: Participants Knowledge

Did the participants know it was all a hoax?

“They were all shocked in the findings. They suggested that the participants knew that no shocks were being administered, but they played along so as not to ruin the study” (Forsyth, 2010, p. 248). Many social psychologists felt that trust was a large factor in regards to this experiment. However, many of these social psychologists felt that trust was a factor that made the participants know the shocks were not real.

Why Obedience?

The experiment’s relevance to genocide

In October 1963, the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology published a 9-page article written by Milgram, titled “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” which highlighted his obedience experiments. “By his fourth sentence he was already referencing Nazi death camps and their ‘daily quotas of corpses,’ implying that the Holocaust was something his 9-page paper would help the world understand” (Baker, 2013). Milgram was especially attracted to obedience research studies due to the impact of the atrocities of World War II. He drew parallels between the behavior of the subjects he saw in the lab to the willingness of ordinary Germans to slaughter the Jewish people and other minorities during the Holocaust. It was not that Milgram thought there was something wrong with the Germans, but instead there was something wrong with humanity and he wanted to try and find the answer to this problem.

German Nazis during WWII (Photo Credit: Becket Adams)


A participant of Milgram’s experiment (Photo Credit: Saul McLeod)

What did they expect to find?

What Milgram and other thought they would discover versus what they truly discovered

Milgram was certain that very few participants would actually carry out the orders of the experiment (to 450-volts). “So he was surprised when 26 of the 40 (65 percent) individuals who served as teachers in the initial experiment administered the full 450-volts to the presumably helpless learner” (Forsyth, 2010, p. 244). Only a few predicted that anyone would give a shock greater than 180-volts. A panel of psychiatrists, college students, and middle-class adults were asked by Milgram to make predictions about the results of the experiment. “Most people, including both experts and laypersons alike, were surprised by the level of obedience Milgram discovered in his research” (Forsyth, 2010, p. 247).

Experiment Results (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

An Experiment with Shocking Results

The Obedience Experiment

The Shock Generator (Photo Credit: Jeffry Ricker, Ph.D.)

The baseline study (I will define baseline study as his first initial experiment) done for his experiment, which was then followed by seventeen variations to the experiment, showed that 65 percent of participants would adhere to authority. Milgram had 40 men come to Yale and they were “assigned” either a “learner” or “teacher” role, not knowing that the learner role was truly a confederate. In the baseline study, the teacher was in a room with a man in a lab coat and would perform a memory test with the learner. For each wrong answer the learner was to give, the teacher would administer a shock. “The generator had 30 different switches running in 15-volt increments from 15 to 450-volts. The higher levels of shock were labeled in big letters as ‘Intense Shock’, ‘Extremely Intensity Shock’, ‘Danger: Severe Shock’, and, ominously ‘XXX’” (Jones, 2006, p. 397). Once the shock hit 300-volts, the learner would pound, vigorously, on the laboratory walls, this was repeated at 315-volts, but not heard from again after that level.

Milgram’s 17 variation experiments duplicated the baseline experiment with slight variations. Experiment 2 was a voice-feedback, where the teacher could hear the learner’s complaints from an adjacent room. Experiment 3 focused on proximity, placing the learner in the same room as the teacher, only a few feet away from one another. Experiment 4 was a touch-proximity, where the teacher and learner were in the same room and the teacher had to physically make the learner touch the shock plate.

The 3 variations of the experiment altered how many participants carried out the acts of obedience. “35 percent of the subjects defied the experimenter in the Remote condition, 37.5 percent in Voice-feedback, 60 percent in Proximity, and 70 percent in Touch-Proximity” (Milgram, 1974, p. 53). Other variations of the experiments changed whether or not the man in the lab coat (who was a high school biology teacher) was present in the room and the location of the physical experiment (moved it off of Yale’s campus).


The Man Who Astonished the World: Responses to Stanley Milgram’s Experiments

The Man Who Shocked the World: Stanley Milgram (Photo Credit: Peter C. Baker)

Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiment

Stanley Milgram is well known today for his controversial experiment on obedience. During the 1960s, while he was a professor at Yale, Milgram conducted a series of experiments on obedience. His findings were shocking: most people, Milgram found, will obey authority figures when instructed to harm others, even if such actions were contrary to their own, personal beliefs. Milgram’s experiment had enormous implications for understanding how so many people could come to take part in the mass murder of Jews and other ethnic minorities in Nazi Germany. However, Milgram’s experiments were questionable from an ethical perspective and they were criticized heavily at the time and since then by social psychologists and other scholars. This paper will discuss Milgram’s experiments and the criticisms that it drew. Because Milgram’s experiments have been central to the study of genocide, it is important to understand the objections that people have raise to them as well as the way that they have been and continue to be justified.

Ferida Osmanovic


While choosing images of a genocide for this project, I stumbled upon an image of a woman, Ferida Osmanovic, who had hung herself in the woods while fleeing from Srebrenica. At first this image seems serene though slightly strange because she is so close to the tree. It’s only until we notice that her feet are suspended that we realize she is dead. It’s a haunting image, and sadly the only one her family has of her (Martin). I’ve decided to include her image in my discussion of Srebrenica to highlight the experience the women had during the fall. They weren’t among those killed in this instance of Serbian violence, but violence against women was happening all over the country. Ferida represents the fear the women and children felt as they were being transferred by Serb forces. She had no idea if she was going to be let go, taken to a rape camp, or killed. She chose to take her own life instead of finding out her fate. Her story helps us see how terrible the situation was for everyone, not just those who died, and her image is the only one I have of victims where they actually look human. I believe that adding her story to that of the 8,000+ victims shows us that this wasn’t the only case of violence and that men were not the only target.

Bosnia: Srebrencia’s Mass Graves

Mass Graves in Srebrenica: How 6,683 victims were identified and how justice for genocide has changed forever by Kelly Bedard

On July 11th 1995 at around 4:15pm the UN declared safe zone Srebrenica was sieged by Serb nationalist forces (Delpla 1, Stover 124). 10,000 to 15,000 Muslim Bosnians had already fled the town (Stover, 124). While 40,000 women and children who remained were forcibly transferred, around 8 thousand men were massacred (Delpla 1, Jennings 47). This was the last great massacre of the Bosnian genocide and it served as a marker for the failure of UN peacekeeping (Delpla, 1). International horror at this failure lead to the NATO bombing campaign against the Serbs, eventually ending the conflict (Delpla, 1). After the breakup of former Yugoslavia there were forty thousand people missing, 71% of whom had disappeared in Bosnia (Delpla, 144). There were 8,200 individuals reported missing after the fall of Srebrenica (Delpla, 140). Forensic anthropologists were able to identify 6,683 individuals and return them to their families (Delpla, 144-145). This project not only helped bring justice to the victims, it brought closure to their families. It also created a new system for identifying victims which has become a new tool for justice after genocide.

As justice was dealt at The Hague, the ICTY opened investigations into the Srebrenica massacre, sending teams of forensic anthropologists to locate and investigate the graves (Delpla, 9). It was only through this work that “the various phases of this vast operation of forcible transport, massacre, and moving of corpses were successfully reconstructed” (Delpla, 9). If this work hadn’t been done “the number who died in the massacre would remain a matter of speculation, rumor, and denial” (Delpla, 9). I decided to analyze photos that were used as forensic evidence that a genocide had been committed. Photos played a huge role in this case, for example, US satellite photos of the “Trail of Life and Death” (the path the 8,000 men were marched along) helped bring charges of genocide against the Serb leader Mladic (Stover, 140). I also set out to explore how the exhumation of mass graves in Srebrenica played a role in bringing justice to the victims, giving proof that a genocide had occurred, and aiding survivors.

Homosexuals in the Holocaust-Intro

1389.5 Holocaust D

“It is not necessary that you and I live, but it is necessary that the German people live. And it can only live if it can fight, for life means fighting. And it can only fight if it maintains its masculinity. It can only maintain its masculinity if it exercises discipline, especially in matters of love. Free love and deviance are undisciplined. Therefore we reject you, as we reject anything which hurts our people. Anyone who even thinks of homosexual love is our enemy” (Rector 105). This is the view of the Nazi party relating to homosexuals during the time of the Holocaust. Scarcely a word has been written on the fact that along with the millions whom Hitler had butchered on grounds of ‘race,’ hundreds of thousands of people were sadistically tortured to death simply for having homosexual feelings (Rector 115). The persecution of homosexuals in the Holocaust is not currently classified as a “genocide” in history, however, I believe that the United Nations should adjust its criteria for genocide by including sexual orientation in its definition. A person’s sexual orientation is just as important to a person’s identity as their race. Therefore, their identity should be protected and included in the genocide definition.

The Armenian Genocide-Intro


In 1915 the declining Ottoman Empire carried out a genocide against its Armenian population. The intention to eliminate Armenians was explicitly stated in a document issued by Ottoman rulers in the Committee of Union and Progress. With World War I taking place, the genocide could be readily justified as a national security measure. The genocide began by targeting elites in major cities and removing battle-age males by conscripting them into the Ottoman army. Armenians were systematically deported from their towns and would either be killed in large-scale massacres or die during transport (Jones, 149-161). That is a linguistic description of the Armenian genocide. In this paper, I will focus on visual representations of the Armenian genocide, in particular, maps. Maps are a powerful means of representing genocide that enable us to comprehend the totality of a genocide as a spatiotemporal process.