American psychologist Stanley Milgram dies of heart failure in Manhattan at the age of 51. A social psychologist, Milgram has become famous (or infamous, depending on the source) for his controversial "Milgram Experiment" on human obedience to authority.
Milgram's experiment was a landmark study on human psychology, but it also raised serious questions about the ethics of human experimentation due to the emotional stress it placed on the students who participated and allegations that it was allowed to go on too long.
Stanley Milgram summarized the nature and implications of his experiment in 1974:
"The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations.
I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not.
The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.
Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."