The Milgram Shock Study: An Overview of a Controversial Psychological Experiment

The Milgram Shock Study is one of the most famous and controversial psychological experiments of all time. Conducted by Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s, the experiment was designed to explore the implications of obedience to authority figures. The experiment is often cited as evidence of the power of authority, and the willingness of people to obey orders even when they may be uncomfortable with them.

Background of the Milgram Shock Study

The Milgram Shock Study was conducted by Stanley Milgram, a professor of psychology at Yale University. The experiment was designed to explore the implications of obedience to authority figures. Milgram hypothesized that people would be willing to obey orders from an authority figure, even when the orders were potentially harmful to another person.

To test his hypothesis, Milgram set up an experiment in which participants were asked to administer electric shocks to another person in response to incorrect answers on a memory test. The experiment was conducted in a laboratory setting, with the participants and the person receiving the shocks separated by a wall. The shocks were not real, but the participants were told that they were real and could cause harm.

Procedure of the Milgram Shock Study

The Milgram Shock Study was conducted in three phases. In the first phase, the participants were introduced to the experimenter, who explained the procedure and the potential risks of the experiment. The participants were then asked to read and sign a consent form.

In the second phase, the participants were asked to administer electric shocks to the person receiving the shocks in response to incorrect answers on a memory test. The shocks were presented as increasing in intensity, with the highest level being potentially fatal. The participants were instructed to continue administering shocks until the person receiving the shocks stopped responding.

In the third phase, the participants were debriefed and asked to provide feedback on their experience.

Results of the Milgram Shock Study

The results of the Milgram Shock Study were shocking. Milgram found that 65% of the participants were willing to administer the highest level of shock, despite being told that it could potentially be fatal. Milgram concluded that people are willing to obey orders from an authority figure, even when the orders are potentially harmful to another person.

Criticisms of the Milgram Shock Study

The Milgram Shock Study has been the subject of much criticism over the years. Critics have argued that the experiment was unethical, as the participants were not fully informed of the potential risks involved. They also argue that the results may not be representative of real-world behavior, as the experiment was conducted in a laboratory setting.

Conclusion

The Milgram Shock Study is one of the most famous and controversial psychological experiments of all time. The experiment was designed to explore the implications of obedience to authority figures, and the results showed that people are willing to obey orders even when they may be uncomfortable with them. Despite criticisms of the experiment, it is still cited as evidence of the power of authority and the willingness of people to obey orders.

FAQs

What is the Milgram Shock Study?

The Milgram Shock Study is a study conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s to investigate people’s obedience to authority figures. The study involved participants being asked to administer electric shocks to another person when instructed to do so by an authority figure.

What were the results of the Milgram Shock Study?

The results of the Milgram Shock Study showed that 65% of participants were willing to administer the highest level of shock to the other person when instructed to do so by an authority figure.

What implications did the Milgram Shock Study have?

The Milgram Shock Study highlighted the power of authority figures and the extent to which people are willing to obey them. It also raised questions about the ethics of conducting psychological experiments on human participants.

What has been the reaction to the Milgram Shock Study?

The Milgram Shock Study has been the subject of much debate and controversy since it was first conducted. It has been both praised for its groundbreaking insights into human psychology and criticised for its unethical methods.

What is the legacy of the Milgram Shock Study?

The Milgram Shock Study has had a lasting impact on the field of psychology, and its findings have been used in a variety of contexts. It has also been used as a cautionary tale to highlight the dangers of blindly obeying authority figures.

References


1. Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), 371–378.

2. Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today? American Psychologist, 64(1), 1–11.

3. Blass, T. (2004). The Milgram paradigm after 35 years: Some things we now know about obedience to authority. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(4), 755–782.