Psychology professor Jerry Burger, who in January appeared in the ABC News’
“Primetime” program that examined how seemingly ordinary people sometimes do morally questionable things, will speak Monday, March 26, at California State University, Fresno.
Burger, a Fresno State alumnus who is on the Santa Clara University faculty, will speak at noon in the Alice Peters Auditorium of the University Business Center, 5245 N. Backer Ave. He graduated in 1977 with a degree in psychology.
Last year, in light of the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, “Primetime” asked Burger to conduct a replication of Stanley Milgram’s classic obedience studies (also known as the “shock” studies) for a television documentary.
In 1961, Milgram came up with a famous and controversial experiment to examine what happens when ordinary people are faced with morally questionable orders. In the study, “the experimenter” – dressed in a white lab coat – instructed participants to administer what they believed were increasingly painful electric shocks to another person.
Although no one was actually receiving shocks, the participants heard a man screaming in pain and eventually pleading to be released from the experiment. When the subjects questioned the authority figure, they were told to continue, and two-thirds did so even as they heard increasing cries of pain.
ABC asked Burger to design and carry out a modification of Milgram’s experiments that conformed to Institutional Research Board guidelines (with approval from the ethics committee of the American Psychological
Association) yet captured the psychological intensity of Milgram’s original studies.
Most startling, his results provide clear evidence that Milgram’s findings more than hold their own today. Burger’s replication has received considerable acclaim within the social psychology community.
Burger is a former associate editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and author of many articles and books in social psychology as well as a popular textbook in personality psychology.
For more information contained in this release, please go to the following Web site(s):
ABC “Primetime,” which includes a videoclip of the “testing”