The prescriptive power of the television host. A transposition of Milgram's obedience paradigm to the context of TV game show

Abstract : Today's fascination with television makes us wonder whether it might not represent an authority capable of leading people in a television studio to inflict cruel acts on others, even though they condemn those acts. The experiment reported here allows us to answer this question in the affirmative. Therefore, we transposed Milgram's famous experimental obedience paradigm to the context of a "real" TV game show, in the studio of a large television production company, with a live audience and no prizes. We set up several experimental conditions designed to tell us if, in such contexts, obedience was the dominant response, as it is in the often-replicated classic situation. We also wished to know if the introduction of variations would reduce obedience. The results show that obedience to the host is the dominant response, as it is in Milgram's classic situation. However, variations that are assumed to reduce this obedience do not in fact demonstrate the expected effects. An additional experimental condition appears to demonstrate that a determining factor of obedience is the physical proximity of the host incarnating the televisual power. We offer a conclusion addressing the societal aspects of obedience.
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Submitted on : Friday, December 14, 2012 - 2:25:30 PM
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Jean-Léon Beauvois, Didier Courbet, Dominique Oberlé. The prescriptive power of the television host. A transposition of Milgram's obedience paradigm to the context of TV game show. European Review of Applied Psychology / Revue Européenne de Psychologie Appliquée, Elsevier, 2012, 62 (3), pp.111-119. ⟨www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1162908812000230⟩. ⟨sic_00765320⟩

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