7/8/06 Social psychology

This morning’s light reading ChangeThis: Getting out of Embed, a summary of three famous experiments which showed the extent to which an individual will conform to the group – not to group pressure, but to his/her own perception of what the group believes. I agree with Doris Lessing that this kind of thing is the most valuable information we uncovered in the twentieth century, but children don’t get taught about it, and it isn’t pushed on TV programmes. Who knows about it and uses it? Students and, most likely, the marketing industry. I have a vested interest, I admit, since inadvertently taking part in the Milgram experiment when I was a student and discovering my moral standards, such as they were, were easily overcome when authority and responsibility was assumed by the experimenter. For one afternoon I was a torturer, and my self-perception has never been the same since.


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