The Milgram Experiment Essay

2024 words - 8 pages

A researcher, Stanley Milgram, wondered how far individuals would go in following commands. In 1974 he set up a series of experiments. Describe the research methods used, together with the findings.

In 1974 Stanley Milgram conducted the classic study of obedience to authority. The study looked into how far individuals would be willing to go, and were asked could they deliver increasingly devastating electric shocks to a fellow human being, as they were requested to do so by the professor in charge of the experiment.

The aftermath of the holocaust and the events which lead up to World War 2 left the world stunned with actions of the Nazi German army and their acquired surrounding territories which came out during the Eichman Trials. Eichman, a high ranking official of the Nazi Party, was on trial for war crimes against humanity. The question is, "Could it be that Eichman, and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?
It was Stanley Milgram that was to answer the call and perform a series of experiments on the obedience of authority.
When it came to selecting participants for the study, Milgram considered using Yale graduates, which was a university nearby. However, he felt that students weren't ideal a group as they were all highly intelligent, and had some familiarity with psychological experimentation. Milgram felt it was therefore more appropriate to bring in subjects from a wider scale, and therefore he decided to use the New Haven community of 30,000 people, as this gave him a wide range of individuals who were all from different backgrounds and would have had different experiences when it come down to authority.
In Milgrams experiments the ordinary men and women were brought in to participate in what they thought was a study of memory in which they were paid $4.50 an hour for their time. On arriving for the experiment they were told that they would play he role of the teacher. They were to read a series of words pairs to an individual on the opposite side of a partition. They were to test the individuals' memory by giving him a word and asking him to select the correct matching word from four alternatives. Each time the learner made an error, they were to give him/her an electric shock at the touch of a lever. The individual was strapped into an electric chair while they watched. The teachers had levers in front of them labelled from 15 to 450 volts and switches labelled from slight shock to danger: severe shock to the final ‘XXX'. They were instructed to move one lever higher on the shock generator each time the learner made an error. There were not of course any shocks. ...

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