Essay about Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram

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Stanley Milgram’s 1963 studies into obedience have provided important and shocking insights into the power of authority. The study set out to discover how obedient people really are. Debate and controversy have surrounded the study since the results were first published. Predictions made by psychologists before the experiment proved dramatically inaccurate. The experiment led volunteers to believe they were administering increasingly painful and dangerous electric shocks to another volunteer for the purposes of a study on memory. The memory study was a ploy, the real focus was on the behaviour of participants inflicting pain on another person. Participants often acted against their own moral judgements and obeyed authority, even when…show more content…
The experimenter would show the participant along with a confederate a shock generator with voltages of 15v to 450v (30 switches in 15v increments). Participants were told this was connected to a chair in another room. They then drew lots to decide who would be the “teacher” in charge of shocks and who the “learner” receiving shocks (the outcome was rigged for the participant to be the teacher). The confederate was then strapped into the chair, and the participant was given a sample shock of 45v from the generator (the only real shocks given during the experiment) and the experiment would begin. Word pairs were read out which the teacher would ask questions on through an intercom. Wrong answers received a shock which increased with each incorrect response. If the participant reached 450v they would repeat that level twice before the experiment was concluded. Any questioning or refusal to continue was met with standard answers from the experimenter such as “although the shocks are painful, there is no permanent tissue damage” or “the experiment requires that you continue”. The first participants for the study were men (a later experiment tested women) recruited by adverts in the local newspapers, offering $4.50, they called on people from all back grounds and professions to take part. The results were startling, 65% of the 40 participants completed the experiment and the lowest point
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