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Discuss Milgram’s Study Of Obedience To Authority

1050 words - 4 pages

This essay will outline Milgram’s experiment of obedience and outline ethical issues relating to it. Before outlining Milgram’s experiment this essay will look at Milgram himself. ‘Stanley Milgram was born in New York in 1933. A graduate of Queens College and Harvard University, he taught social psychology at Yale and Harvard Universities before become a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Centre of the City University Of New York.’ (Zimbardo, 2010)
Milgram’s study of obedience was an experiment that looked at how ‘ordinary citizens obey the orders of an authority figure if those orders meant physically harming an innocent person’ (Milgram, 1974). He conducted ‘18 studies between 1960 and 1963’ so that he then could examine whether people would obey authority figures that involved giving innocent people electrical shocks of up to 450 volts. One of the studies was based on ’40 men, ranging from 20 to 50 and representing a cross section of occupations and educational roles in the USA.’ (Milgram, 1974). This study involved three people a learner, a teacher and an administrator. Milgram (1974) states that ‘each participant meet a middle aged man who was introduced as another participant but was actually a confederate’. The Learner and the teacher roles were taught by the participant to be chosen at random but it was rigged as the learner role was a confederate. The participant taught that this experiment was punishment on memory. So therefore ‘the real participant becoming the teacher’ (Milgram, 1974).
Before the test began the real participant (Teacher) was given a sample shock of 45 volts to show what the subject what the learner will face. The teacher then watched the electrodes being but on the learner but at the same time the learner informed the experimenter that ‘he had a weak heart and was worried in case of strong shocks’ (Pennington, 1986) and when the experiment began the teacher and learner were put in separate rooms. They then communicated through two way intercoms. But what the subject did not know is that the learner was not getting shocked because once the teacher and the experimenter left the room the student slipped out of

the chair and turned on a tape recorder. This allowed all subjects to hear the same response and allowed Milgram to analyse how obedient a person would be to harm another person when commanded to. Once the experiment began the teacher would impose a shock for every wrong answer and increasing the voltage for every wrong answer after that but once it reached ‘315 volts and beyond there is silence’ (Pennington, 1986). The silence meant that the subject was either dead or knocked out and this stressed the participant out when completing the task as subjects became ‘more and more stressed at giving greater and greater shocks’ (Rogers, 2003). Participants would get agitated once there was silence and asked to stop but the researcher ‘gave a predetermined response: ‘Please...

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