Nazi Germany demonstrated many aspects of human behaviour, for example we often follow authority and conform to fit in, and secondly that depending on the situation our behaviour and identity can change.
Milgram's Obedience experiment demonstrates that we will often follow authority rather than to listen to our conscience. This element was demonstrated in Nazi Germany, when many of the soldiers turned on their Jewish friends, and assisted in the rounding up and slaughter of around 6 million Jews. Many of us would not be able to comprehend us ever in a situation in which we would perform an act against our conscience of that magnitude. However, in Milgram's experiment it is evident that given a specific situation, and a certain level of authority, we may act against our beliefs and values.
Secondly, the Stanford Prison Experiment presents us with a situation where people who have stepped into specific roles (prison guard and prisoner) act in a way contradictory to thier personality. The participants in this experiment stepped into these roles and reflected how they thought a person in that situation would act. Therefore, could we put the actions of the German soldiers down to the fact that they were acting as soldiers?
Another experiment i feel demonstrates the behaviour of those in Germany during the rule of the Nazi Party, is the Solomon Asch conformity experiment. This experiment shows that in a group situation people will often conform, rather than to go against the group. Therefore it could be seen that the soldiers in Nazi Germany were conforming to the beliefs of those around them (mainly the leaders) rather than to step outside the mob mentality and risk their lives.
Based on these experiments of ordinary people (not in a war situation), do you think that any person given a specific situation could disregard their beliefs and values and turn against their friends?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
In our first tutorial we were asked what we would like to learn from social psychology. Among our list was to find out how people can suddenly confrom and perform acts in which they would not normally do. For example an array of acts in Nazi Germany. Back in year 11 i studied Nazi Germany at school and read about many experiments that were performed. Nazi Germany is a powerful example of many bad aspects within society; such as unethical experiments, discrimination and mass murder. Some of the experiments performed by the Nazi's such as the High Altitude Experiment, Malaria experiments and freezing experiments are described at the following link...
The Nazi's also experimented on twins, descriptions of the those experiments can be found at; http://www.remember.org/educate/medexp.html
Does anyone else have examples of human cruelty or any opinions on the Nazi experiments?