Many people may still don’t understand how Adolf Hitler regime killed millions of Jews. Many may equate that piece of history to demonic act. Demonic or not, one most significant question arises; what made German people killed innocent Jews?
To answer this question, we must go back to the time before Hitler became a leader. Adolf Hitler was not a German (originally), he was an Austrian. Amazingly, he was able to influence German people to put him in power. But what did he do to make people believe and love him?
Obviously, if you follow the root of history, you will find that Hitler made himself appeared similar to German people. He applied the rule of similarity. Similarity is a powerful tool of persuasion. By appearing similar to others, you would appear lovable to them.
After convincing German people that he was on the same page (feeling the same emotion), Adolf Hitler applied his second tactic: the rule of exclusivity. He made himself and his supporters the member of an exclusive group called Aryans. Along with this, Hitler built a barrier between them and the Jews. Separating the Jews reinforced the idea that the Jews were weak while the Germans were superior. Then hatred sprouted.
But how did Hitler direct his supporters to kill the innocent Jews without apparent reasons? This question sparked research interest among psychologists around the world which led to several laboratory experiments. One of the studies was the Milgram’s experiment on obedience.
Stanley Milgram was a brilliant psychologist who determined to unravel the mystery as to how Hitler turned his followers into killers.
The experiment was conducted at the laboratory.
The experiment basically involved two people, the student (Confederate) and the teacher (the participant of the study).
All participants (teachers) were instructed to give an electrical shock to a student if he gives the wrong answer to predetermined questions.
The intensity of the electrical shock would increase if the student would continually miss a word (no electrical charge but the participants believed it was real). But the confederate (student) deliberately misses the words.
Milgram hypothesized that no human being would agree to give high electrical voltage to his fellow human being. But after the experiment, Milgram found that his hypothesis was wrong.
In fact, most participants applied an electrical shock to the students even in a deadly level.
In the actual experiment, most participants were hesitant to shock the students, but nevertheless, they listened to Milgram’s instruction. They increased the level of electrical voltage.
Milgram then concluded that generally, people would obey a person who is in the position of authority. In the case of the previous experiment, Milgram was the authority figure. So the participants felt obliged to follow him.
The result was not only surprised the world but also surprised the author of the study. Stanley Milgram was convinced that people tend to follow someone who possesses authority.
The previous experiment answered the question as to why Hitler’s followers obeyed his command.
Obedience is evident in our daily experiences. You can see it among employees, students, and siblings. We tend to follow the boss, teacher, and the oldest.
So if you want to influence others, build an authority figure in you.