In June 2016 we published a succinct review of recent work addressing issues raised by the Milgram paradigm in Current Opinion in Psychology.  As we note in the paper, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in Milgram's work due largely (a) to increased scrutiny of Milgram’s findings (partly as a result of access to the Milgram archive at Yale University) and  (b) to the development of new, ethically acceptable, variants of his paradigm.

The review notes that three categories of problem have been discussed in recent work. These relate to problems with (a) Milgram's account of his findings, (b) his interpretation of his findings, and (c) the historical relevance of his findings (in particular, to the Holocaust). It argues that in light of this recent work, the standard textbook account of Milgram's work is highly problematic.

As an alternative to this, it concludes:

"The real power of Milgram’s studies was to show how leaders, followers, and the institutions in which they are enmeshed can create worlds in which acts of cruelty against outgroups come to be seen as virtuous rather than vicious, and in which those who perpetrate them understand themselves to be heroes rather than villains. Critically, this occurs not because perpetrators are unaware that they are doing harm, but rather because they are convinced they are doing good."

The paper can be accessed here.  However, if you are unable to access it, please e-mail us and we will send you a copy.


  • Haslam, S. A., Reicher, S. D., & Birney, M. E. (2016). Questioning authority: New perspectives on Milgram's 'obedience' research and its implications for intergroup relations. Current Opinion in Psychology, 11, 6–9.