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When the Milgram Experiment was performed in the 1960s and replicated multiple times up until the 1980s, it was performed in Western cultures. When it was replicated in 2006, it was again performed in the USA. One of the interesting observations that was made, was that the subjects in most cases, agreed to continue the shock treatments if they were reassured that they cannot be held responsible for anything that happens and cannot be sued*.

This to me, sounds to be an individualistic reaction to the experimenter's command as opposed to a collectivistic response where subjects would not only try to protect their self interests but would also act to protect the confederate being shocked from ill treatment**. Is this an accurate assertion?

As we know, Western cultures are known to emphasize on individualism whereas Eastern cultures are known for inculcating collectivism. So, would the experimental results differ if the experiment were replicated today in an Eastern culture (Japan, for example)?

Have any such studies been conducted in the East?

*Mentioned in Burger, Jerry M. (2008). "Replicating Milgram: Would People Still Obey Today? and also a video clip was featured on ABC News’s January 3, 2007, broadcast of Primetime.

**Personal argument/reasoning

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I knew it still didn't look right, I think it's all straightened out now! :) –  Chuck Sherrington Aug 20 '13 at 17:21
    
You could interpret stalinist rule as one huge successful Milgram experiment. After all, Stalin was not alone in shipping off thousands to the gulags. –  what Aug 20 '13 at 18:02
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2 Answers

While I don't know of the Milgram studies being replicated cross cultural there's an older, less severe conformity study by Asch. Those use less authoritarian and more group conformity pressure.

Eastern cultures showed higher conformity and western showed falling conformity over time.

Bond, R. & Smith, Peter. (1996). Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch's (1952b, 1956) line judgment task. Psychological Bulletin, 119(1), 111-137. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.119.1.111

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Having lived in both the East and the West, I am tempted to write an answer based on the observations made - that in part agree with the paper you cited @JohnChristie –  user3554 Aug 20 '13 at 19:25
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Thanks for the response! However, I am not sure how to interpret this with respect to my question. If I understand correctly, this essentially says that collectivistic cultures tend to have higher group conformity than western cultures. –  AsheeshR Aug 21 '13 at 0:59
    
Yes, that's what it says. It's probably the closest you'll get to cross cultural Milgram experiments. They weren't done in the first round and they've just recently started doing them again. –  John Aug 21 '13 at 1:01
    
My personal experience was rather different that that of Damien. I lived in Russia for a few years, and I found that the "collectivist" aspect mostly expressed itself in a strong familial bond and mutual support, while in regard to outsiders (like other families or the state) people mostly cared little for their opinions or welfare. This resulted in extreme intrafamilial bonding, and high levels of (organized) crime and violence outside of familial ties as well as low work ethics, institutionalized child abuse etc. –  what Aug 21 '13 at 7:40
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@AsheeshR In case this answer doesn't fully answer the question or you need further clarification, you are more than encouraged to discuss this in the comments here. You also don't need to accept it if the question is unanswerable as it stands, however you could consider 'no such studies currently exist' also to be an answer. –  Steven Jeuris Aug 21 '13 at 22:52
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There is a 2009 article by Burger that reportedly reviews the Milgram experiment and all known replications. You might want to read through the replications carefully to see whether any such studies were performed in an eastern cultural context. Possibly even a close reading of the studies might suggest how much results vary across settings.

I found one study by Shanab (1974) which was conducted in Jordan, although that's not exactly an eastern culture.

Using S. Milgram's (1974) paradigm, 48 Jordanian college students were tested for obedience. Results show experimental Ss gave significantly more shocks than the control Ss. Unlike the experimental Ss, the controls were free to either give or not give shock. No difference in obedience rate occurred between male and female Ss. In terms of overobedience, 62.5% of the experimental and 12.5% of the control Ss continued to deliver shock to the end of the shock scale.

So on the face of it, I could not find a replication of the Milgram experiment in an Eastern context.

References

  • Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today?. American Psychologist, 64(1), 1. PDF
  • Shanab, M. E., & Yahya, K. A. (1978). A cross-cultural study of obedience. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society.
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