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Stanley Milgram

Stanley Milgram (August 15, 1933 - December 20, 1984) was a psychologist at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. While at Yale, he conducted the small-world experiment (the source of the six degrees of separation concept) and the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority.

Although considered one of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, he never took a psychology course as an undergraduate at Queens College, New York, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in political science in 1954. He applied to a Ph.D. program in social psychology at Harvard University and was initially rejected due to lack of psychology background. He was accepted in 1954 after taking six courses in psychology, and graduated with the Ph.D. in 1960. Milgram had a number of significant influences. Among his influences at Harvard were psychologists Solomon Asch and Gordon Allport (Milgram, 1977).

In 1984, Milgram died of a heart attack at the age of 51 in the city of his birth, New York.

In 2004, a biography of Milgram was published under the title The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram, by Thomas Blass.

Obedience to authority

Main article: Milgram experiment

In 1963, Milgram published the results of his Milgram experiments in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in the article "Behavioral study of obedience". In the ensuing controversy that erupted, the APA suspended his membership in 1964 due to questions about the ethics of his work. Ten years later, in 1974, Milgram published Obedience to Authority and was awarded the annual social psychology award by the AAAS (mostly for his work over the social aspects of obedience).

Small World Phenomenon

Main article: Small world phenomenon

The six degrees of separation concept originates from Milgram's "small world experiment" in 1967 that tracked chains of acquaintances in the US. In the experiment, Milgram sent several letters to random people, asking them to forward a letter, by hand, to someone specific.

See also




  • Milgram, S. (1974), Obedience to Authority; An Experimental View London:Tavistock. ISBN 006131983X
  • Milgram, S. (1977), The individual in a social world: Essays and experiments / Stanley Milgram. ISBN 0201043823.
    • Abridged and adapted from Obedience to Authority.

Book Chapters


  • Milgram, S. "The Small World Problem". Psychology Today, May 1967. pp 60 - 67 "Full text
  • Milgram, S. (1963) A behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal mid Social Psychology, 67, 371-8.
  • Milgram. S. (,1964) Issues in the study of obedience: A reply to Baumrind American Psychologist, 19, 848-52.
  • Milgram, S. (1970) The experience of living in cities, Science, 167, 1461-8.
  • Milgram, S., Liberty; II. J., Toledo. R. and Blacken J. (1956) Response to intrusion in waiting lines. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 51, 683-9.


  • Milgram, S. (1963) Behavioural study of obedience,[Journal of Abnormal Psychology]] 67: 371-8.
  • Milgram, S. (1970) The experience of living in cities, Science 167: 1461-8.

===Further reading

  • Blass, T. (2004). The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram. ISBN 0738203998

Stanley Milgram (1992) (edited by John Sabini and Maury Silver). The Individual in a Social World: Essays and Experiments. Second Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  • Blass, T. (2004). The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Blass, T. (2002, March/April). The man who shocked the world. Psychology Today, pp. 68-74.
  • Blass, T. (2002). Perpetrator behavior as destructive obedience: An evaluation of Stanley Milgram's perspective, the most influential social-psychological approach to the Holocaust. In L. Newman & R. Erber (Eds.). Understanding genocide: The social psychology of the Holocaust. Oxford University Press. (Invited chapter)
  • Blass, T. (2002). Social psychological perspectives on obedience. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. (Invited article)
  • Blass, T. (2001, Spring). Stanley Milgram and leadership. Effect, pp. 7-8.
  • Blass, T. & Schmitt, C. (2001). The nature of perceived authority in the Milgram paradigm: Two replications. Current Psychology, 20, 115-121. (Invited submission)
  • Blass, T. (2000). Invited response to review of "Obedience to authority: Current perspectives on the Milgram paradigm." British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 624-25.
  • Blass, T. (2000). Stanley Milgram (1933-1984). Encyclopedia of Psychology. American Psychological Association. (Invited article)
  • Blass, T. (Ed.), (2000). Obedience to authority: Current perspectives on the Milgram paradigm. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Blass, T. (1999). The Milgram paradigm after 35 years: Some things we now know about obedience to authority. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 955-978.
  • Blass, T. (1999). Stanley Milgram. In J. A. Garraty (Ed.), American National Biography. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press and American Council of Learned Societies. (Invited article)
  • Blass, T. (1998). The roots of Milgram's obedience experiments and their relevance to the Holocaust. Analyse & Kritik, 20, 46-53. (Invited article)
  • Blass, T. (1998). Stanley Milgram and his obedience experiments. Clio's Psyche, 4, 109-112. (Invited article)
  • Blass, T. (1996). Attribution of responsibility and trust in Milgram's obedience experiment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 1529-1535.
  • Blass, T. (1996). The Milgram obedience experiment: Support for a cognitive view of defensive attribution. Journal of Social Psychology, 136, 407-410.
  • Blass, T. (1996). Experimental invention and controversy: The life and work of Stanley Milgram. The General Psychologist, 32, 47-55. [This is a somewhat longer version of the previous reference.]
  • Blass, T. (1996). Stanley Milgram: A life of inventiveness and controversy. In G. Kimble, A. Boneau, & M. Wertheimer (Eds.), Portraits of pioneers in psychology, Vol. 2. Washington, D.C. and Hillsdale, NJ: American Psychological Association and Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Krackow, A., & Blass, T. (1995). When nurses obey or defy inappropriate physician orders: Attributional differences. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 10, 585-594.
  • Blass, T. (1995). Right-Wing Authoritarianism and role as predictors of attributions about obedience to authority. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 99-100.
  • Blass, T. (1994). Stanley Milgram (1933-1984). In R. Corsini (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology, Second edition. New York: Wiley.
  • Blass, T. (1993). Review of "The roots of evil: The origins of genocide and other group violence," by Ervin Staub. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 7, 276-280.
  • Blass, T. (1993). Psychological perspectives on the perpetrators of the Holocaust: The role of situational pressures, personal dispositions, and their interactions. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 7, 30-50.
  • Blass, T. (1992). The social psychology of Stanley Milgram. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 25, pp. 277-329. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Blass, T. (1991). Understanding behavior in the Milgram obedience experiment: The role of personality, situations, and their interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 398-413. (Reprinted in: Lesko, W. A. (1994). Readings in social psychology: General, classic, and contemporary selections, 2nd ed. NY: Allyn & Bacon.

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