Milgram S Obedience To Authority Essay

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The Milgram Experiment

Stanley Milgram, a famous social psychologist, and student of Solomon Asch, conducted a controversial experiment in 1961, investigating obedience to authority (1974). The experiment was held to see if a subject would do something an authority figure tells them, even if it conflicts with their personal beliefs and morals. He even once said, "The social psychology of this century reveals a major lesson: often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act (Cherry).” This essay will go over what Milgram’s intent was in this experiment and what it really did for society. The Milgram Experiment was on obedience to authority, which…show more content…

(Voltage increased after each wrong answer). After a dangerous level of voltage was applied, the actors screamed out in pain, and then fell to the ground, not responding to the experimenter or the subject. Many subjects were said to show signs of distress at this point, but after being prompted by the experimenter to continue on with the experiment, and increase levels of voltage (Cherry). Over 65% of participants continued to electrocute at lethal levels, and who is to say that most of us wouldn’t have done the same? After all, psychologists first predicted that only around 10% of people would actually follow through (Cherry).
After the experiment subjects were debriefed, and told that the participants they administered shocks to were actually actors. The subjects realized the cruelty of their actions and some suffered emotional break downs. Milgram stated, "Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority (1974).” His experiment just proved that when placed in a situation of pressure,

The Milgram Experiment of Obedience

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Milgram’s experiment of obedience was done in 1961 soon after WW2 and the trials for war crimes against the Nazi’s were being done. An ad was placed in the newspaper for a Memory and Learning Experiment at $4.50 an hour, but the experiment was ultimately on Obedience. The experiment was conducted on behalf of Adolph Eichmann who was convicted of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, but he was only following orders. Eichmann filled out death warrants but never carried out the killings. The objective of the experiment was to find out if people would obey higher authority even though what they were doing was morally wrong. There would be the experimenter who recorded the teacher’s reactions and answered questions of the teacher. The learner, an actor not actually harmed, was supposedly shocked every time he had given a wrong answer and each time he was wrong he would be shocked with more voltage than the one before. The teacher administered questions to the learner along with the shocks for the wrong answer. What the teacher thought he was doing was giving a painful shock, not deadly shock to the learner to test of punishment leads to better memory.

During the experiment very few actually went against authority, even though all shocked the learner at 300W and on. Over 50% went to the full amount of electricity. In fact a prediction from other psychologist suggested that not even 1% of the subjects would follow up to the last switch on the generator. During the experiment, teachers, the actual subjects, became nervous. The teachers began questioning the experimenter, who told them to go on and that he was the one talking all the responsibility of the teachers’ actions. This persuaded many teachers to go on feeling obligated to follow authority even though the teachers knew they were doing something morally wrong. The teachers fidgeted a lot, moved the hands, pulled out cigarettes and looking around, talking fast, etc. which are all signs of nervousness. Despite their nervousness and morality they listened to authority to continue long after the learner was not responding.

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Perhaps the teachers obeyed because they have a sense of obligation to their duty. This is just the whole idea of completing the job that’s given to you. Some people have a fear of being perceived as rude. In general, people want to present themselves in the best way possible thus obeying authority despite ethical notion in the back of their minds. This might be a perfect example to explain the rational behind the many Germans that accepted the Nazi’s ideas.



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