I was reading up on Milgram experiment [hat-tip: Dure] and the Stanford Prison Experiment, and their results make you wonder about a lot of things: About free will in general, about the limits to obedience and the potential for human cruelty. Disturbing.

There is a related issue, which I'd be interested in exploring if i could have: How much abuse are people willing to tolerate from the person they love, before they decide to end the relationship? Cursing, lying, cheating, manipulating, beating? What and how much? Like the Milgram experiment, I have a feeling its results might be darker than what we may expect rationally.

Our softwares are really screwed up.


Roshni said…
..Its all about authority right..Some people just don't have the backbone to stand up for themselves -shrug-
Awais Aftab said…
But its interesting to find out what portion of totality do these "some people" constitute.
Komal said…
I'm not sure a relationship is a proper analogy in this situation. A relationship is not an objective social structure in itself, the way that the situation in the Milgram experiment was. What you're thinking of is more like inertia, combined with some fear of loneliness (and maybe other pressures).

The Zimbardo experiment confirms what radical feminists have known forever (i.e. this is part of radical feminist theory; you can't be a radical feminist and not believe in it): gender is the cultural manifestation of structural inequality. A structurally unequal structure (surprisingly, that's not a redundancy :P) was produced in the prison simulation, and the oppressed class became effeminate and the oppressor class hypermasculine.

Anyway, there's nothing radical about the results of the Zimbardo experiment. People have known for ages that oppression exists and is terrible; that social roles exist and people fall into them; and that the oppressor has a vested interest in perpetuating the oppression. And obviously, that social structures have psychological effects.

The view that these experiments revealed such 'new' truths to us is oppressor-centric. A lot of people have known these things for a long time: their voices just haven't been heard.
Komal said…
@ Roshni

It's not quite as simple as that. Whether or not a person 'stands up for themselves' is not a function of their psychological state or personality only, but is dependent on structural factors.

To say that people's own pusillanimity is the reason they are oppressed is ridiculous: it is victim-blaming, and it's totally inaccurate. People can be rendered weak by things beyond their control, even if they have the ability to eventually overcome their situation.
Awais Aftab said…
@ Komal

I'm not saying its an analogy, but i think it is a bit related.

Of course, you are right. It's not a "new truth" being revealed. People have theorized about it for ages. It's just that i think it's among the first to probably conduct a experiment of such nature.

And you are definitely right about people being rendered weak by things beyond their control.
As it turns out, quite a bit. women tend to stay with abusive husbands for years at a time, some for all their lives because it is not just about the physical beating they get but the emotional and mental manipulation that deters them from leaving.

Professor Zimbardo came to our university to lecture about his experiment, it was very interesting understanding the findings of the experiment from the person who conducted it :-).
Komal said…
It may be the first experiment, but that's only because others did not need experiments to know it. Their everyday experience is sufficient empirical confirmation.
Dur-e-Aziz Amna said…
I think the most interesting dimension to this is how very few of us would deem ourselves, even in the darkest, most private recesses of our mind, to be capable of such torture or oppression.
For me, another issue of similar characteristics was the research I did on the 1971 war, which resulted in the secession of 'East Pakistan'. That horrible crimes had been committed in the war, I knew prior to the research. The realization I had, that the very common abbu/chachu/taaya/friend in the Pakistani army was capable of the countless murders, rape, etc, was shattering.

Life is so much sunshine-ier when Evil is just a compartmentalized section of society, than when it is..Us.