Millgram Response

Millgram was an interesting read, but it was incredibly dense a little hard to get through. I was also pretty unsurprised by the data. I have always enjoyed hearing about the famous study in New York City when everyone stares up at the sky, and other people slowly stop in the middle of the road, observe the mini crowd of people staring, and look up themselves. The data collected suggests that people passing by are more likely to stop at a crowd when the amount of people is greater, which makes sense. When you are in an experiment with other people, you are making something the norm. As more people join and become the majority, it becomes “safer” to be part of that majority and to conform.

However, I am always intrigued by where this situation and conclusion lends itself. I will think of the psychological term “The Bystander Effect”, which (to make a long story short) is when someone is in trouble or pain, needing help, in a crowded area. They will call out for assistance, and everyone that is around will continue with their day, not stopping to help. The more people that are around, the less likely someone will be to help. There have been numerous studies about someone bleeding out on the sidewalk, while other people pick their feet up to avoid the mess, as part of the majority that are just walking by the person in need. It is only when someone breaks this cycle of Bystanding and asks if someone needs help, or stops to help the person, that more people will join up the newly-appointed norm, and become the majority. This all started with Millgram. Every so often, I can get one of my friends to help me in a tiny unethical experiment, where I will look up with someone else and we will watch the people around us out of the corner of our eye. Sometimes they’ll stop and look up, too, and I feel a grateful little moment for the brilliant people of psychology.


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