Stanley Milgram

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Megan Randolph

RC 250

Marcia Clay


A Summary of Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Study

Stanley Milgram, a professor of social psychology, conducted a research study beginning in July of 1961. This research measured the willingness of participants to either obey or disobey an authority figuring giving them on a conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. Milgram set up this experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person just because an experimental scientist ordered him to. Virtually one thousand adults were observed in this experiment, and several different conditions were launched to find a limit to which the candidate would continue the order from the experimenter or refuse the order and end the experiment. This experiment consisted of a triangle, beginning with the experimenter, which was the authority, the executant, which was the participant, and the victim, which was the learner.

Both learner and teacher were given a sample 45-volt electric shock from an apparatus attached to a chair into which the "actor-learner" was to be strapped. The fictitious story given to the "teachers" was that the experiment was intended to explore the effects of punishment for incorrect responses on learning behavior. The participants were first paid to participate in the experiment making it feel more real. A progression of unrevealed subjects in their roles as teacher were given simple memory tasks in the form of reading lists of two word pairs. The teacher then asked the "learner" to read them back and was instructed to administer a shock by pressing a button each time the learner made a mistake. It was understood that the electric shocks were to be of increased by 15 volts in intensity for each mistake the "learner" made during the experiment, while the actor/learner screamed and yelled louder every time. The participant believed that for every wrong answer, the learner was...
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