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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Do Unto Others ? Methodological Advance and Self- Versus Other-Attentive Resistance in Milgram’s “Obedience” Experiments

Matthew M. Hollander and Douglas W. Maynard
Social Psychology Quarterly August 2, 2016


We introduce conversation analysis (CA) as a methodological innovation that contributes to studies of the classic Milgram experiment, one allowing for substantive advances in the social psychological “obedience to authority” paradigm. Data are 117 audio recordings of Milgram’s original experimental sessions. We discuss methodological features of CA and then show how CA allows for methodological advances in understanding the Milgramesque situation by treating it as a three-party interactional scene, explicating an interactional dilemma for the “Teacher” subjects, and decomposing categorical outcomes (obedience vs. defiance) into their concrete interactional routes. Substantively, we analyze two kinds of resistance to directives enacted by both obedient and defiant participants, who may orient to how continuation would be troublesome primarily for themselves (self-attentive resistance) or for the person receiving shocks (other-attentive resistance). Additionally, we find that defiant participants mobilize two other-attentive practices almost never used by obedient ones: Golden Rule accounts and “letting the Learner decide.”

The article is here.