Milgram Summary

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Kayla McNutt Professor Williams English 1101-107 17 September 2013 The Obedience Test Stanley Milgram’s article, “The Perils of Obedience” focuses on the experiment he created to test society’s willingness to obey. In the experiment Milgram has one person who is a learner and another who delivers the shocks, the teacher. The focus of the experiment is on the person delivering the shocks because the “learner” is an actor. The learner’s role is to recite words to practice memorization. If he recites the words incorrectly the teacher has to administer a shock to the learner. The more words that the learner forgets the shock voltage is raised. Although the learner is an actor the teachers are not aware of this, believing they are shocking a man with deadly voltage. Milgram’s objective is to see if the subjects will continue shocking as the voltage is raised. In his article he hypothesizes, “The point of the experiment is to see how far a person will proceed in a concrete and measurable situation in which he is ordered to inflict increasing pain on a protesting victim” (Milgram63). This experiment was inspired by WW2, which had just roughly ended. Milgram saw the Nazis fulfill orders without any questions to carry out horrific acts. This made Milgram question just how far the average citizen would go in order to obey. In the first execution of the experiment Milgram randomly selected Yale students to use for the experiment. Many of the students did shock the learner and obeyed. Milgram’s partners were surprised at the data that the students shocked the learner. They soon concluded that Yale students were not the best subjects to use because the students are so competitive. The experiment was then executed again using randomly selected individuals in the area. During the second execution some of the subjects discontinued the shocks mid experiment, but others
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