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What Is the Milgram Obedience Experiment?
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Not just those in the armed forces, but ordinary people were coerced into carrying out
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What Is the Milgram Obedience Experiment?
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Hi I'm Hollie Hancock, here with About.com to answer the question, what is the Milgram Obedience Experiment?Well at some point in our lives, everyone has experienced peer pressure, whether it is our personal experience or something that we have observed we all know the power and influence one person may have over another.Following WWII, many wondered about the horrors that occurred during the war: how could people be motivated to commit such acts of brutality towards each othe? Not just those in the armed forces, but ordinary people were coerced into carrying out the most cruel and gruesome acts. Meet Stanley Milgram. In 1963, Milgram set out to learn how far humans will go when an authority figure orders them to hurt another human being. Sounds a bit scary, doesn't it?Here's how Milgram designed his experiment: Participants were told that they were involved in a learning experiment. Their participation would involve them being a "teacher" and they were asked to administer electrical shocks to another person who was considered the "learner." They were told that they should continue to administer the shock until the end of the experiment. The teacher sat in front of a machine with a number of dials labeled with steadily increasing voltages. This was the "shock machine." The third switch from the top was labeled: "Danger: Severe Shock", the last simply: "XXX".During the course of the experiment, each time the learner made a mistake, the participant, the teacher, was ordered to give an ever-increasing voltage of electric shocks. Of course the learner kept making mistakes so the teacher (that poor participant) had to keep giving higher and higher voltage of shocks. The learner in the experiment was actually an actor following a rehearsed script. The learner was kept out of sight of the participants, so they came to their own assumptions about the pain they were causing. When the participant baulked at giving the electrical shocks, the experimenter – someone in a white lab coat – simply ordered them to continue.
Milgram's study discovered people are much more obedient than you might imagine. 63% of the participants continued right until the end - they administered all the shocks, even with the learner screaming in agony. Remember, the learner was an actor, but the screams were perceived as real. The learner was begging to stop and eventually falling silent. The Milgram experiment certainly sheds a great deal of light on how social situations impact human behavior. Knowing about the Milgram experiment provides a new lens through which we can look to understand human behavior.
Thanks for watching. I'm Hollie Hancock here with About.com. For more information, visit us online.
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