Yale Conference on Milgram’s Legacy

Reading the new issue of Journal of Social Issues devoted to Stanley Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’, I recalled that around this time last year  (October 2013) I  participated in a Conference on the Legacy of Stanley Milgram’ held at Yale Law School and organised by Tom Tyler.  Fellow presenters included Milgram’s biographer, Tom Blass,  Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher. It was an inspiring event,  with much debate. Alex, Steve and I have been collaborating on a documentary Shock Room that restages and reinterprets Milgram’s  dramatic experiment, questioning whether we are really programmed to obey. More  very soon… 

At the conference, I was introduced to the work of  psychologist Saul Kassin who gave a fascinating  presentation about the power of situation in extracting false confessions. Like Stanley Milgram, Kassin and his colleagues go to a great deal of trouble to create the right environment for their experiments,  conducting much of their research in a Psycho-legal Laboratory containing a mock courtroom complete with a judge’s bench, witness stand, podium, and seating area for a jury. Staged trials or testimony are recorded with videotape cameras and microphones built into the ceiling and walls. 



Essay on Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Documentary

In September, the Journal Of Social Issues published a special issue ‘Milgram at 50: Exploring the Enduring Relevance of Psychology’s most Famous Studies.’ It was edited by Alex Haslam, Arthur Miller and Steve Reicher.

My own article Revisioning Obedience: Exploring the Role of Milgram’s Skills as a Filmmaker in Bringing His Shocking Narrative to Life was in a section devoted to new insights from the Yale archives.  It also included terrific new articles by Nestar Russell and Stephen Gibson. Another highlight is Haslam and Reicher’s article. You can find full details of the issue here.