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The Milgrim Experiment... Sadistic Sheeple!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Blackjack, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    I learned of this some time ago but had forgotten what it was called.

    It's truly frightening.

    The Milgram experiment was a seminal series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obedience_(human_behavior) an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.
    The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiments to answer this question: "Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?"
    Milgram summed things up in his 1974 article, "The Perils of Obedience", writing:
    The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.
    Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
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    Method of the experiment

    Subjects were recruited for the Yale study through newspaper ads and direct mail. The experiments occurred in two rooms in the basement of Linsly-Chittenden Hall on the university's Old Campus. The experiment was advertised as lasting one hour, for which the respondents would be paid $4.50 whether they completed the task or not. The participants were men between the ages of 20 and 50, from all educational backgrounds, ranging from an elementary school dropout to participants with doctoral degrees.
    The role of the experimenter was played by a stern, impassive biology teacher dressed in a technician's coat, and the victim was played by an Irish-American accountant trained to act for the role. The participant and a confederate of the experimenter were told by the experimenter that they would be participating in an experiment to test the effects of punishment on learning.
    A slip of paper was then given to the participant and another to the confederate. The participant was led to believe that one of the slips said "learner" and the other said "teacher," and that the participants had been given the slips randomly. In fact, both slips said "teacher," but the actor claimed to have the slip that read "learner," thus guaranteeing that the participant was always the "teacher." At this point, the "teacher" and "learner" were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.
    The "teacher" was given a 45-volt electric shock from the electro-shock generator as a sample of the shock that the "learner" would supposedly receive during the experiment. The "teacher" was then given a list of word pairs which he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner. The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the learner would receive a shock, with the voltage increasing with each wrong answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair.
    The subjects believed that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual shocks. In reality, there were no shocks. After the confederate was separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. After a number of voltage level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart condition, the learner gave no further responses to questions and no further complaints.
    At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.
    If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, in this order:
    1. Please continue.
    2. The experiment requires that you continue.
    3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
    4. You have no other choice, you must go on.
    If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession.


    Before the experiment was conducted Milgram polled 14 Yale senior psychology majors as to what the results would be. All respondents believed that only a sadistic few (average 1.2%) would be prepared to give the maximum voltage. Milgram also informally polled his colleagues and found that they believed very few subjects would go beyond a very strong shock.
    In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65% (26 out of 40) of experimental participants administered the experiment's final 450-volt shock, though many were quite uncomfortable in doing so; everyone paused at some point and questioned the experiment, some even saying they would return the check for the money they were paid. No participant steadfastly refused to give further shocks before the 300-volt level.Variants of the experiment were later performed by Milgram himself and other psychologists around the world with similar results. Apart from confirming the original results the variations have tested variables in the experimental setup.
    Dr. Thomas Blass of the University of Maryland Baltimore County performed a meta-analysis on the results of repeated performances of the experiment. He found that the percentage of participants who are prepared to inflict fatal voltages remains remarkably constant, between 61% and 66%, regardless of time or location.<sup class="noprint"></sup>
    There is a little-known coda to the experiment, reported by Philip Zimbardo. None of the participants who refused to administer the final shocks insisted that the experiment itself be terminated, nor left the room to check that the victim was well without asking for permission to leave, according to Milgram's notes and recollections when he was asked on this point by Zimbardo.<sup class="noprint"></sup>
    Milgram created a documentary film titled Obedience showing the experiment and its results. He also produced a series of five other films on social psychology, some of which touched on his experiments.
  2. snowbyrd

    snowbyrd Latet anguis in herba

    Back in high school we had a couple of history teachers do basicly the same thing. Some of the students were used as 'victims'. The rest of the class was in the dark. The 'victims' were accused of stealing tests and hooked up to an electrical 'device' and 'shocked' to elicit the names of other students that were part of the plot. In the three years I was at the school only one student left the room. And only one challenged the teachers authority to do such a thing. I was that one, ended up with an A for the semester. Gee imagine that I ended up in the preparedness world

    Question authority

    Gee I guess when the cop pulls me over for an out tail light he has the 'right' to search my person and vehicle, huh.

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