The Milgram Experiment
Humans are trained to take direction from authority figures
from very early in life. An infamous experiment conducted in 1961 by Yale
University psychologist Stanley Milgram, measured this willingness to obey
authority figures by instructing people to perform acts that conflicted with
their morals. Participants were told to play the role of “teacher” and
administer electric shocks to “the learner,” who was supposedly in a different
room, every time they answered a question incorrectly. In reality, no one was
actually being shocked. Instead, Milgram played recordings to make it sound
like the learner was in a great deal of pain and wanted to end the experiment.
Despite these protests, many participants continued the experiment when the
authority figure urged them to, increasing the voltage after each wrong answer
until some eventually administered what would be lethal electric shocks.
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