The Milgram Experiment

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The Milgram Experiment was one of the most influential experiments in social psychology. It was conducted by Stanley Milgram and was published in the 1960s. These laboratory experiments offer a powerful and disturbing look into the power of authority and obedience.

Milgram was interested in researching how far people would go in obeying orders if it involved performing dangerous and even deadly action against another person and that violate their own personal beliefs and values. Simply put, Stanley Milgram was interested in how easily ordinary people could be influenced into committing atrocities for example, Germans in WWII (Taylor, Peplau & Sears, 2006).
Milgram selected participants for his experiment by advertising, through the newspaper, for male participants to take part in a psychology study of learning at Yale University. The procedure was that the volunteer was paired with another person and they drew straws to find out who would be the “learner” and who would be the “teacher.” The draw was fixed so that the participant was always the teacher, and the learner was one of Milgram’s associates (pretending to be a real participant).

While in another room, the "teacher" would deliver a shock, ranging from 15 to 450 volts, to the “learner" every time an incorrect answer was produced. While the participant believed that he was delivering real shocks to the learner, the associate was simply pretending to be shocked. As the level of shock increases, the learner’s reactions became increasingly dramatic. Toward the end, at maximum voltage, he simply stopped answering and made no response at all. Through all this, the experimenter (dressed in white lab coat) urged the learner to continue. They did this even though the person they were shocking screamed for mercy, had a heart condition, and was apparently experiencing great pain. The teacher, however, had…...

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