The Conflict Between Obedience And Personal Conscience

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A psychologist at Yale University, Stanley Milgram, carried out a study in 1961 focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. The experiment was conducted shortly after the World War II, Nuremburg War Criminal trials, in which the accused had used the defense that they were merely following orders from their superiors. Milgram’s experiment was designed to answer the question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” Stanley Milgram’s experiment was pretty straightforward and simple. He put an advertisement in the newspaper for males to participate in his experiment and they would be paid $4.50. The study was to be conducted at Yale University. The participant was paired up with another person (one of Milgram’s confederates). The pair would then draw to see who would be the “learner” and who would be the “teacher”. It was fixed so that the participant was always the teacher and Milgram’s confederate was the learner (pretending to be a participant). The learner was taken to a separate room in which his arm were attached to electrodes that were hooked up to an electrical generator in the teacher’s room. On the generator were 30 switches that ranged from 15 volts (minor shock) to 450 volts (potentially lethal). The teacher would ask the learner questions that the learner was to answer. The teacher was instructed to give the learner a
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