Monday, December 22, 2008

People Obey Authority, Even if It Means Hurting Others

After decades, someone has finally been able to replicate Stanley Milgram's experiment concerning authority figures' effect on obedience.

For anyone who is not familiar with the experiment, in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram at Yale University conducted a series of experiments where he told volunteers he was studying the effects of punishment on learning. In each experiment, Milgram told the volunteer that he or she would either be acting as a teacher or a learner. The volunteer was always the teacher while a confederate (a person working with Milgram) played the role of "learner."

The learner's arms were strapped into a chair and electrodes attached to him. The volunteer witnessed this as well as the learner becoming apprehensive, telling both the volunteer and Milgram he had a heart condition.

Milgram then took the volunteer into an adjoining room, where he or she could communicate with the learner over an intercom. The teacher was instructed to read the learner questions on a verbal memory test, and was told every time the learner got a question wrong he or she must administer an electric shock to him. The electric shock generator consisted of shocks from 15-450 volts in intensity. Each time the learner got an answer incorrect, the teacher had to administer an increasingly stronger shock to him.

Initially, the learner did not respond to the shocks. However, when he received a shock of 150 volts, the learner cried out in pain. He continued to cry out in pain and even insisted the study be stopped, but Milgram insisted that the study must go on, that the volunteers must continue to administer the shocks for every incorrect answer.

The results of Milgram's study may surprise you greatly. Likewise, the results of the replicated study may surprise you.

To read more about the two studies and their results, please visit:
People Obey Authority Figures, Even When It Hurts Others

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