Obedience to authority – lessons from Milgram applied to COVID-19


In this podcast, Dr Raj Persaud talks to Professor Stephen Reicher about Milgram’s famous ‘obedience study’ (Milgram, 1963) and the various conclusions that can be drawn from the findings. What does this, together with more recent research into obedience, imply about our willingness to conform to authority, and what does it tell us about our likelihood to comply with instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic?


Date published: 20 May 2020

Presenter: Dr Raj Persaud

Interviewee: Professor Stephen Reicher

Audio running time: 53 minutes

Credits: 0.5


Learning outcomes


By the end of this podcast, we hope you will have gained an understanding of:


  • the methodology and findings of Stanley Milgram's obedience study (Milgram, 1963)


  • the various conclusions that have been drawn regarding obedience to authority


  • the factors that influence our willingness to conform to authority


  • how this could relate to public behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic.



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If you like this podcast, you may also be interested in the following:


Podcast The psychology and psychiatry of pandemics with Professor Steven Taylor


Podcast The psychology of coping with quarantine with Professor Neil Greenberg


Module A guide to clinical ethics in psychiatry by Dr Steve Pearce and Dr Jacinta Tan

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