Reading groups

‘Behind the Shock Machine : the untold story of the notorious Milgram psychology experiments’ is a book that’s bound to spark discussion and debate in your book group.

It’s especially interesting if you can compare it with Milgram’s first article about the experiments published in 1963 or Milgram’s 1974 book, Obedience to Authority.


Discussion questions

  1. What did you know about Milgram’s experiments before you read this book?  Where and in relation to what events did you hear them referred to? Did the ideas about human nature presented in these references seem true to you?
  2. Why do you think the story of Milgram’s research has been so enduring?
  3. How much choice did Milgram’s subjects have? e.g. What did you feel after reading about Bill Menold’s experience? What ‘truth’ did Bill and others learn about themselves in taking part? Do you think Herb Winer’s anger is justified?
  4. Should research like Milgram’s have been outlawed?
  5. How reliable do you think Milgram was as the narrator of the story of his research?
  6. Several people in the book – Don Mixon, Martin Orne, Hank Stam – offer alternative explanations of the results – whose do you find most convincing?
  7. Is Milgram’s work helpful in any way in understanding  human nature and events such as the  Holocaust? Abu Ghraib?
  8. In what ways, if at all, did this book change your view of Milgram’s obedience research?

Join the conversation

What issue got your group talking the most? Share your story or write a review.

I have never ever in my life read a non fiction book in 3 days but I couldn’t put it down…I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. I’ve raved to the local librarian about it, telling her the whole town has to read it.

Doris, Wonthaggi