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Obedience To Authority Vs. Personal Conscience

849 words - 3 pages

Stanley Milgram, conducted a study focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. According to the study Migram suggested “that obedience we naturally show authority figures can transform us into agents of terror” (Migram, 1974/1994, p. 214). Milgram experiment was developed for the justification of the act of genocide in World War II. Many of the accomplices in the Holocaust said they were following in order given by Adolf Eichmann. Obedience to superiors is built onto the history of civilized society, and no culture worthy of the name has existed without stressing the respect that is due to legitimate authority of the duties of those in command. Milgram study provides information that supports that under a command of authority an adult is willing to go to any length to carry out the command.
The experiment was a about memory and learning. The participant consists of “teachers” who is told the experiment is intended to explore the effects of punishment for incorrect response on learning behavior. Their role is to read a list of two word pairs and the other participant to read them back. They are told they had 30 switches that are labeled with voltage ranging from 15 up to 450 volts with a rating of “slight shock” to “danger”. The other participant the “learner” who was an actor is strapped to a chair during the experiment and any time the response to word the pair was incorrect a wave of electro shook in increments of 15 volt would be administer. The teacher and the learner are in separate room during experiment period. Although, the teacher could hear the learner responses to each time the different range of voltage, the actor pretend discomfort with each voltage increase of electrical shock. In the same room with the teacher is the experimenter encouraging to continue the process and increase the shocks. Milgram study shows that 65% of the “teachers” obeyed the order to the level of 450 volt. Before the experiment Milgram gather prediction of how the teachers would obey to a directive and the majority of the participants felt that teacher would refuse to obey the experimenter. One participant, the psychiatrist predicted most of teachers would only administer up 150 volt. Both teachers and the learner was aware of the conflicting pain of 45 volt electroshock, each participant was given this amount of voltage before the experiment began. The experiment shows that when we are under an authority order, we will forget our ethical principles.
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