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Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience To Authority” Essay

791 words - 4 pages

In 1961, Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychologist, conducted an experiment that tested the obedience of a person to an authority figure. According to simplypsychology.org the experiment started a year after the start of the trial for Adolph Eichmann. Eichmann was on trial for his involvement in World War II and was eventually charged on counts of war crime and crimes against Jewish people. Milgram wanted to answer if Eichmann and many others in his same position during the Holocaust just following given orders?
The experiment was done to see when it’s someone’s job, how much suffering will ordinary people be willing to inflict on another innocent human being. Milgram set up the experiment by using three individuals; one who would run the experiment (experimenter), the subject of the experiment (the teacher), and then an actor pretending to be a volunteer (the learner). The subject and actor of the experiment were asked to draw a slip of paper to determine their roles. The subject of the experiment not knowing that both slips of paper read teacher to guarantee selection surprisingly draws teacher and resumes the role. After the selection occurs, the teacher and learner are then separated into two different rooms where they are still able to communicate but not able to see each other. It is explained that the teacher will administer an electric shock to the learner when he is wrong in the experiment. Fake electrodes are attached to the learners arm and attached to a box in the other room with the teacher to help create this illusion. To begin the teacher is given a sample of what the shock will feel like to the learner during the experiment not knowing the learner will not actually feel any pain but act as if so instead. Next the teacher is given a list of word pairs that he must teach the learner so he starts off by reading off the list of words to the learner. The teacher then gives the learner a word along with four possible answers. If the learner gives the wrong answer the teacher is to administer an electric shock to the learner and must strengthen the shock after each wrong answer. If the learner selects the correct answer they simply move on to the next question. For the most part however the learner gives the...

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