ERIC Number: EJ859793
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 9
Milgram, Kohlberg, and Dostoevsky
Sprinthall, Norman A.
American Psychologist, v64 n7 p620-621 Oct 2009
Comments on a article by Blass (January 2009) who pointed out his historical perspective on human welfare problems facing a democratic society. The author would like to add some information from the cognitive-developmental framework that seems most pertinent to these larger issues of obedience and disobedience. It is relevant to note that a number of analogous studies reached similar conclusions on rates of obedience and disobedience to authority figures. Kohlberg (1984) and Jim Rest (1986), one of his closest colleagues, published a large number of studies outlining the base rates of moral judgment as assessed through the dilemma interview method and with the Defining Issues Test. The rates, as in the Milgram studies, remain remarkably stable; namely, about one third were rated at the postconventional level and two thirds at lower levels of moral judgment. These overall findings suggest that raising levels of moral and ethical judgment may be at least one factor in achieving the goals of a democratic society. It is only a short step, as Blass (2009, p. 37) noted, from obedience to the Holocaust. The author suggests that it is time to consider remedies to this human condition of obedience to authority.
Descriptors: Value Judgment, Democratic Values, Compliance (Psychology), Social Behavior, Cognitive Development, Behavioral Science Research, Reader Response
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Authoring Institution: N/A