Milgram Experiment

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  • The Milgram Experiment involved 40 male volunteers (applied via a newspaper article), they were 20-50 years old, situated in the New Haven district in North America
  • All volunteers took the role of the teacher in the experiment, given the job to punish the learner (an actor) with an electric shock (which increased in 15V intervals to 450V) everytime they got a wrong answer. They were told the experiment can stop at anytime beforehand
  • The men were then separated, the teacher with the electrifier and experiment conductor, so neither could be seen by the other and the experiment began. The teacher could not see that no pain was inflicted on the acting learner and his reactions were part of a recording
  • "The experiment requires you to continue"
  • As the voltage increased and the tape began to play more painful sounds (ending with the learner claiming to no longer want to be involved and stop answering), some participants began to question the point of the experiment - not wanting to cause pain - and looked to the experiment conductor (in a white lab coat) for guidance. A small series of verbal prods encouraged them to continue .
  • The experiment was stopped when there was either refusal to continue or when the teacher had reached the maximum voltage on the shock machine. They were then debriefed afterwards and told the what the entire experiment was really for and met the acting learner to show that they had not caused any physical harm.
  • "To test your obedience to someone who wanted to inflict pain"
  • The entire aim of Milgram's experiment was to investigate how obedient people would be to an assumed authority figure who wanted to instil pain onto others. Beforehand, psychologists were asked how many they expected would provide the full 450V and they believed only 1.2% would - they were very wrong. - 100% gave 300V or more - 65% gave the full 450V
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