A new study has found that people feel less moral responsibility when they’re obeying orders, indicating that they can be easily coerced into doing something. The study, based on the “Milgram Experiments” in the 1960’s, which also showed the same results, but with some flaws.
The new study by researchers at University College London and Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium reaffirms the previous study that people are less morally responsible, when they are told to do something good or bad. During the 1963 study, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted experiments, to determine if “ordinary” people would willfully inflict harm on other people, if they were ordered by an authoritative figure. His results showed that 65 percent of people delivered shocks, even while seeing the “victim” in pain.
“In particular, acting under orders caused participants to perceive a distance from outcomes that they themselves caused,” said co-author Patrick Haggard, a cognitive neuroscience at university College London.
In the new modified experiment, results showed that when the person was allowed to choose the action freely in the orders, there was a longer interval between the action and the tone, when the subjects gave electric shocks by pressing a key. Researchers measured the time interval between the time of the order given and the time it was carried out, and the brain activity during the experiment.
The results revealed that there is a greater reduction in responsibility when the time to perceive is higher. Haggard said that people who give orders should perhaps be held more responsible for the actions and outcomes of those they coerce. It is a topic where psychology and biology become quite close, added Haggard. the study has been published in the journal Current Biology.