Stanley Milgram Obedience Essay

Stanley Milgram’s Behavioral Study of Obedience Essay

1797 Words8 Pages

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....”
― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
― Henry David Thoreau

In the early 1960’s Stanley Milgram (1963) performed an experiment titled Behavioral Study of Obedience to measure compliance levels of test subjects prompted to administer punishment to learners. The experiment had surprising results.

Purpose of the research.
Stanley Milgram’s (1963), Behavioral Study of Obedience measured how far an ordinary subject will go beyond their fundamental moral character to comply with direction from…show more content…

The subjects were informed that the punishment would not cause permanent tissue damage, however, could be extremely painful. The subjects observed the learner/accomplice being prepared with electrodes strapped in a chair. The teacher/subjects read a series of word-pairs to the learner then read the first word of the pair along with four terms. The learner’s role was to pair the first word with the correct term (Milgram, 1963). The learner would then press one of four switches attached to an electrical shock generator indicating his response. Unknown to the teacher, “in all conditions the learner gives a predetermined set of responses to the word pair test, based on the schedule of approximately three wrong answers to one correct answer” (Milgram, 1963).

To authenticate the potential electrical intensity to the learner the teacher is sampled with a 45-volt shock to the wrist. The teacher is then instructed to administer an incrementally increasing punishing electrical shock for each incorrect answer. This follows several methods to inform the teacher of the potential impact of the electrical shock that they will administer. These included, warnings listing the voltage range of 15 to 450-volts labeled Slight Shock, Moderate Shock, Strong Shock, Extreme Intensity Shock, Danger Severe Shock, and XXX, bright red

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Essay about Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram

2387 Words10 Pages

Stanley Milgram’s 1963 studies into obedience have provided important and shocking insights into the power of authority. The study set out to discover how obedient people really are. Debate and controversy have surrounded the study since the results were first published. Predictions made by psychologists before the experiment proved dramatically inaccurate. The experiment led volunteers to believe they were administering increasingly painful and dangerous electric shocks to another volunteer for the purposes of a study on memory. The memory study was a ploy, the real focus was on the behaviour of participants inflicting pain on another person. Participants often acted against their own moral judgements and obeyed authority, even when…show more content…

The experimenter would show the participant along with a confederate a shock generator with voltages of 15v to 450v (30 switches in 15v increments). Participants were told this was connected to a chair in another room. They then drew lots to decide who would be the “teacher” in charge of shocks and who the “learner” receiving shocks (the outcome was rigged for the participant to be the teacher). The confederate was then strapped into the chair, and the participant was given a sample shock of 45v from the generator (the only real shocks given during the experiment) and the experiment would begin. Word pairs were read out which the teacher would ask questions on through an intercom. Wrong answers received a shock which increased with each incorrect response. If the participant reached 450v they would repeat that level twice before the experiment was concluded. Any questioning or refusal to continue was met with standard answers from the experimenter such as “although the shocks are painful, there is no permanent tissue damage” or “the experiment requires that you continue”.

The first participants for the study were men (a later experiment tested women) recruited by adverts in the local newspapers, offering $4.50, they called on people from all back grounds and professions to take part. The results were startling, 65% of the 40 participants completed the experiment and the lowest point

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