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Social Psychology and Society

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 2221-1527

ISSN (online): 2311-7052


License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Started in 2010

Published quarterly

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Open Access Journal


S. Milgram’s experiment through the lens of historical psychology 623


Pavlenko V.N.
PhD in Psychology, Chair of Applied Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine

The article presents a look at the results of the classical experiment of S. Milgram from the point of view of the theories of B. Porshnev and D. Jaynes. A review of the provisions of both theories that are relevant to the analysis of the experiment of S. Milgram is given. A comparative analysis was carried out. It is shown that both theories postulate the existence in human history of a period when our ancestors were guided in their behavior not by their own motives, goals and objectives, but by other people’s speech commands — either given by real leaders (B. Porshnev), or their “doubles” — voice-hallucinations (D. Jaynes). If we agree with the authors of these theories, the unquestioning obedience to “authority”, demonstrated by the majority of subjects in the experiment of S. Milgram, is in a certain sense a recurrence of those psychological mechanisms and behaviors that existed in a person in that historical era of total suggestion (according to B. Porshnev) or “bicameral mind” (according to D. Jane).

Keywords: historical psychology, S. Milgram’s experiment, obedience, suggestion, auditory hallucinations, bicameral mind

Column: Theoretical Research


For Reference

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  2. Porshnev B.F. O nachale chelovecheskoi istorii (problemy paleopsikhologii) [About the beginning of human history (problems of paleopsychology)]. Moscow: Mysl’, 1974. 487 p.
  3. Porshnev B.F. O nachale chelovecheskoi istorii (problemy paleopsikhologii) [About the beginning of human history (problems of paleopsychology)]. Saint Petersburg: Aleteya, 2007. 720 p.
  4. Blass T. The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram. Hachette UK, 2009. 384 р.
  5. Doliński D., Grzyb T., Folwarczny M., Grzybała P., Krzyszycha K., Martynowska K., Trojanowski J. Would You Deliver an Electric Shock in 2015? Obedience in the Experimental Paradigm Developed by Stanley Milgram in the 50 Years Following the Original Studies. Social Pychological and Personality Science, 2017, no. 8, pp. 927—933.
  6. Jaynes J. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 469 p.
  7. Milgram S. Behavioral Study of Obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1963. Vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 371—378.



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