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Stanley Milgram's Obedience Study

Essay by   •  June 2, 2018  •  Book/Movie Report  •  421 Words (2 Pages)  •  170 Views

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Stanley Milgram’s experiment attempted to investigate the impact of enforcement and authority on the obedience of an individual. What was being tested was to see whether or not the subject would obey the authority figure. However, the only true subject in the experiment and the actor would be oriented that the experiment is about conditioning and learning through punishment. Given that the subject would have no other choice but to be the teacher in the experiment, he would be asked to administer shocks if the learner answered incorrectly. The results of the experiment showed that most, if not all, participants complied despite the fact that the learner or the actor would already be telling the teacher that he was already in discomfort when the shocks were being delivered to him. The participants would still continue because, as how they would reason out, it was what the experimenter would tell them to do.

The experiment took place in a secluded room where the participants would think that they are not being observed from the outside, when in fact, that was not the case at all. The design of the experiment was perfect given that the subject would be made to think that he or she is participating in an experiment about learning and punishment, when in reality, the experiment is actually about one’s obedience to an authority figure. The experiment was also very timely as it was dedicated to the genocide that happened during World War II, when Hitler ordered his men to burn millions of Jewish people. Milgram was curious as to why these soldiers could do such things to innocent people with just a command coming from a single authority.

Issues were brought up about Milgram’s Obedience study, and one of these issues says that it was unethical of him to trick the participants into thinking that they were actually administering shocks to the learner, which might have led the participants to believe that it was almost as if they were torturing someone because they were told to do so. It could be traumatic to them as they would assume that they held responsibility over what they had done to the learner in the experiment. Moreover, the experimenter induced anxiety and stress to the participants and it truly made them feel uneasy as it could be seen how they were arguing at first with the experimenter. It could be observed from them that what they thought was right was in conflict with what the authority wanted them to do.

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