American psychologist Stanley Milgram carried out many studies overtime in which findings reveal the true nature of individuals within society. So, what are we really like?
Lets begin with experiments which reveal how honest and helpful members of society can be. In 1965 Milgram et al carried out a study which consisted of placing stamped, addressed letters around in a street in order to see who would be kind enough to post them. There were two categories of letters; some addressed to ‘Associates of Medical Research’ and others addressed to ’Friends of the Communist/Nazi Party’. In total only 95% of the letters were passed on- 70% for the medical associates and 25% for the political party. Not only does this measure the helpfulness of society, but also it measures their opinions. Due to 95% of the letters being sent by random members of the public, this indicates that individuals can be very helpful yet, with only 25% of those letters being passed of to the Natzi party, this would suggest that certain individuals hold a strong negative opinion of that particular party.
Furthermore, in order to understand how helpful members of society can be, Milgram introduced the lost child experiment. Would we ever fail to help a lost child? With the aid of some 6-10 year old children, Milgram conducted his next study. The children were sent off onto the streets in America accompanied by an observer should their safety be at risk, and were asked to stop the first person to walk by for help, explaining that they were lost and needed to call home. Within cities, individuals were surprisingly very unhelpful, a total of 46% offered to help the child. Other members of society ignored the child or swerved around in order to avoid them. Even more shockingly, one individual explained to the child that their mother was waiting for them in some random restaurant nearby, just so that they did not have to deal with the lost child. On the other hand, within towns, individuals were much more helpful and showed sympathy to the lost child- a total of 72% of the public offered their help.
These results suggest that the behaviour of those living in cities is very negative and unhelpful, this shows as they could not take time out of their busy lives to help a lost child. If anything, I would have believed that members of the public would be more helpful to a lost child within a city due to the fact that busy cities would be very scary and intimidating to a small child and they would have less of a chance of finding their parents on their own compared to a smaller town.
What do you think about it? Do you think these studies represent the true nature of individuals within society?