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Presented By: Andrew Craik & Alex Khazen. Milgram’s Experiment. What it is was. In 1961, The Milgram Experiment O n Obedience T o Authority F igures was a social psychology experiment conducted by American social psychologist Stanley Milgram at Yale university. What it is was.

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what it is was
What it is was

In 1961, The Milgram Experiment On Obedience To Authority Figures was a social psychology experiment conducted by American social psychologist Stanley Milgram at Yale university.

what it is was1
What it is was
  • It measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their own personal conscience.
what it is was2
What it is was
  • The hypothesis of the study was to determine if those who committed crimes against humanity within the Nazi regime before and after World War Two were truly acting on order from an authoritative figure.
  • The methods of the experiment were controversial and considered by some scientists to be unethical or psychologically abusive.
the method
The Method
  • The volunteer subject was given the role of teacher and the confederate was given the role of learner.
  • Both were told to draw slips, but both slips said teacher, the confederate was instructed to say that he was given the role of learner.

The Teacher-Learner Model

the method1
The Method
  • The teacher would read memory questions that the learner is intended to memorize, when the learner is unable to answer correctly, the teacher is instructed to institute an electric shock that would gradually increase in increments of 15 volts, as a form of punishment in an invisible attempt to condition the learner to remember the questions.
  • The learner was never in any actual pain and never in view of the teacher, instead a prerecorded message would play after every shock.

This of course, was not a study of memory and the subject who believed themselves to be the teacher was actually the one being tested on their level of obedience to respective authority figures.

the method2
The Method

If at any time the subject indicated adesire to halt the experiment, they were given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, in this order:

1. Please continue.

2. The experiment requires that you continue.

3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.

4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession.


What percent of the subjects do you believe would push the confederate to maximum capacity voltage?

the results
The Results
  • Although considered by many to challenge the ethics of the field of psychology as it is potentially damaging to the mind and spirit of the subject, most subjects thanked Milgram for opening their eyes to the authorities in their lives that asserted blind control over them without any objection. One man who participated within the 1964 trial had this to say about the Vietnam War :

While I was a subject in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority… To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority's demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself… I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted Conscientious Objector status. Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience…

the results1
The Results
  • As stated in the video, 60% of all subjects went to maximum voltage; even after nonresponse by part of the confederate.
  • As a conclusion to the hypothesis of the Milgram’s Experiment Of Obedience To Authority Figures and of the question to the morals of the Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust, it can be stated that in one way or another that human nature does come into play when it comes to the endangerment of others in a situation where an authority figure acts as responsible party and instructor for said endangerment.

Similar tests have been taken all over the world and results are congruent with those taken first by Milgram.


Theory of Conformism:

A subject who has neither ability nor expertise to make decisions, especially in a crisis, will leave decision making to the group and its hierarchy. The group is the person's behavioral model.


Agentic State Theory:

The essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view themselves as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and they therefore no longer see themselves as responsible for their actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow.


Milgram’s experiment was as revolutionary as it was controversial and remains to this day to be a hallmark experiment within both the field social psychology and psychology as a whole. Milgram’s experiment is taken to this day to gauge the distance of participation by subjects and the percentage that reach dangerous intensity voltage only increases with time.