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Abstract

In this study, we used a paradigm similar to the one used by Milgram in his classic obedience study, using an immersive video environment. We manipulated the victim's degree of visibility and his ethnicity. When the victim was hidden, the level of obedience we obtained was similar to Milgram's. Replicating previous findings observed in real environments, participants were more obedient when the victim was hidden than when he was visible, and the more obedient participants negated their own responsibility by projecting responsibility on both the victim and the experimenter. State-anger and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) emerged as two significant predictors of the level of obedience. Illustrating an underlying process of racial-dehumanization, participants reported less anxiety and distress when the victim was a North African than when the victim was of the same racial origin as the participant. These results underscore the usefulness of using immersive environments when studying extreme social behaviors. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.