Essay Example on Stanley Milgram's most famous experiment and how it can help Humanity









Stanley Milgram's most famous experiment and how it can help humanity in 1963 one of the most famous studies of obedience in psychology was carried out Stanley Milgram was a psychologist at Yale university He was conducting an experiment focusing on the relationship between obedience and authority Milgram s experiments examined justification for acts of genocide when war criminals claimed they where following orders and instructions from their superiors those with more authority The experiment was created to explain the horrors of world war two where enemies of the sate were brutally slaughtered by Nazis He sought to answer the question could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices these where simply following orders During this essay I will be trying to answer this question by looking at the results of Milgram s experiment and seeing how we could potentially use them to help humanity The experiment Milgram selected the participants at random simply by putting an advertisement out in the newspaper and they would be paid a fee of 4 50 for turning up regardless 40 males between ages 20 50 where recruited 

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Three individuals took part in the experiment The experimenter the person in charge the teacher the volunteer who was made to believe they were assisting in the experiment however where actually the subject the learner an actor pretending to be a volunteer who the teacher would believe was the subject of the experiment The experiment Itself started with the drawing of slips The slips would determine who would be the teacher and who would be the learner however it was actually fixed so that the volunteer would receive the title of teacher automatically The teacher and learner where taken into a room where the learner was strapped to what appeared to be an electric chair The teacher and learner where then separated and the teacher was given word pairs to teach the learner The teacher would follow by testing him naming a word and asking the learner to recall its pair The learner would then indicate his response by pressing a possible of four buttons Unknown to the teacher the learner would purposely answer mostly wrong With each wrong answer the teacher had to administer a shock to the learner with a 15 volt increment each time The voltage started at 15 volts labelled as mild shock and increased to 450 volts labelled as a simple but horrifying XXX The learner was actually an actor and was not shocked but made the teacher believe he was receiving shocks This causes varying levels of distress for each participant if the teacher wished to halter the experiment or discontinue at any time the experimenter was instructed to give successions of prods 1 Please continue 2 the experiment requires you to continue 3 it is absolutely essential that you continue 4 you have no other choice you must go on the aim of the experiment was to see how far ordinary people would go in obeying an instruction and if they could be convinced to do atrocities like the Nazis in WW2 results 

Despite predictions that less than 2 people out of a 100 would be prepared to reach maximum voltage in Milgram's first experiment 65 of participants administered the highest shock and all administered shocks of at least 300 volts Every participant questioned the experiment at least once and most continued after being reassured by the experimenter All displayed signs of distress nail biting stuttering lip biting trembling and even nervous fits of laughter The experiment concluded with the idea that ordinary people like to follow instructions given by figures of authority and importance even to the extent of potentially inflicting death on an innocent human It also showed that people appreciate signs of authority for example the white coat the experimenter wore The studies generated a great deal of discussion due to the ethical questions raised People argued that stress and potential long term harm to participants could not be justified however In his defence Milgram commented that almost all participants said they were glad they had taken part what this tells us about humans The studies on the whole are a demonstration of how situational forces at the current time can dramatically adjust a person's decision making at the present I have already concluded that humans respond well to figures of authority but why In every day situations people obey orders to avoid negative consequences receive rewards and because they believe the authority is legitimate just as the teacher in the Milgram experiment would have

This can be shown in practise when a parent tells their noncompliant child to don t do x or I will insert consequence The consequence could be informing the child's disobedience to a more authoritative figure removing the child's possessions for a set amount of time phone toys belongs etc or taking away something they would normally be able to do Overall it does not matter what the consequence would be as long the child believes it is legitimate and would prefer for it not too happen they will generally comply Of course there are exceptions but this is expected Milgram found after repeated experiments that obedience was highest when the learner was in another room the commands from the experimenter where given by a seemingly high authority figure instead of another volunteer the experiment was repeated with this change

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