Male volunteers needed between the ages of 20-50 from a range of ocupations all education backgrounds to take part in a study of memory with a pay of $4.50 per hour.
There was a learner and a teacher and the volunteers both had a note to decide which one is which. However the notes were already rigged as the learner was an actor and both papers said teacher.
The teacher and the leaner were in separate rooms. However the teacher received a shock to make the study more believable and reliable. After the learner got strapped into a chair and his wrist attached to the equipment that would deliver shocks.
In a separate room, the teacher was told that the learner had to learn word pairs. The teacher had read out the first word of the word pair and another four words the, the learner would indicate the correct answer to the teacher by pressing one of the four switches in-front of him (however, everything was prerecorded). If the learner got a answer wrong, or didn't respond to an answer (as that counted as a wrong answer), the learner would be shocked in 15V intervals, from 15V to 450V.
At 300V the learner shouted and pounded hard, making the subject assume that the learner was hurt or even dead (as they answered nothing when the question was asked). The experimenter used prod verbs to make the subject continue.
Please he's getting hurt!
You have no there choice, you must carry on.
65% of the subjects went all the way up to 450V. All 40 subjects gave shocks up to 300 V.
The participants were debriefed, assured no shocks had been given and were explained the true purpose of the experiment. Treatment was not offered to the participants until 18 months after the experiment.
Conclusions were made about the extent to which we obey an authority figure although characteristics were not taken into account.