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Participant met by investigator in lab coat and introduced to another participant ‘Mr. Wallace’ (who is actually in on the investigation) Participants informed that the purpose of study is to investigate the role of punishment in learning.
Slips of paper are drawn to see who is the teacher and who is the learner. It is rigged so that Mr. Wallace is always the learner. Learner is taken into adjacent room, ‘learner’ is helped into shock apparatus and ‘teacher’ receives a sample 45V shock.
Experimenter and teacher return to first room, ‘teacher’ is sat in front of an intercom and electric shock generator, containing 30 switches ranging from 15 – 450V. Shock generator shows verbal descriptions of shock intensity.
Teacher administers a paired–associates task to leaner, teacher is instructed to give a 15V shock to the learner for the first error, then increase by 15V for each subsequent error. If teacher hesitated experimenter gave a verbal prod.
‘Learner’s’ reactions varied as level of shock increased; at 150V he begged to be let out of experiment, 180V yelled he cannot stand the pain, 300V shouted he refused to continue, at 330V a shriek and from thereafter silence.
Participant kept going until he refused to continue, or the investigator stopped investigation after 3 rounds at maximum 450 volts. Participant was then debriefed.
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