Modern Milgram experiment sheds light on power of authority
Alison Abbott, "Modern Milgram experiment sheds light on power of authority", dans Nature, Vol. 530, n° 7591, 394–395. Compte rendu de Patrick Haggard et al., "Coercion Changes the Sense of Agency in the Human Brain", Current Biology, Volume 26, Issue 5, 7 March 2016, Pages 585–592.
Extrait de l'article
"More than 50 years after a controversial psychologist shocked the world with studies that revealed people’s willingness to harm others on order, a team of cognitive scientists has carried out an updated version of the iconic ‘Milgram experiments’.
Their findings may offer some explanation for Stanley Milgram's uncomfortable revelations: when following commands, they say, people genuinely feel less responsibility for their actions — whether they are told to do something evil or benign.
“If others can replicate this, then it is giving us a big message,” says neuroethicist Walter Sinnot-Armstrong of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was not involved in the work. “It may be the beginning of an insight into why people can harm others if coerced: they don’t see it as their own action.”
The study may feed into a long-running legal debate about the balance of personal responsibility between someone acting under instruction and their instructor, says Patrick Haggard, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, who led the work, published on 18 February in Current Biology.
Milgram’s original experiments were motivated by the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who famously argued that he was ‘just following orders’ when he sent Jews to their deaths. The new findings don’t legitimize harmful actions, Haggard emphasizes, but they do suggest that the ‘only obeying orders’ excuse betrays a deeper truth about how a person feels when acting under command."