– The purpose of this experiment was to shed some light on the aspect of human
behaviour, and how people are influenced by being told what to do. Milgram
wanted to identify the factors in a situation that led people to obey and
inflict pain on another person. “Stanley
Milgram was interested in how easily ordinary people were influenced into
committing atrocities, for example, Germans in WW2” (Simple Psychology.
– This experiment took part in “The Yale Interaction Laboratory” where Stanley
Milgram was a professor at. The design was set out into two rooms, one room
where the learner (confederate Mr. Wallace) was located with the electrodes
attached, and in the other room was the teacher with the experimenter (actor- John Williams) who was dressed
in a grey lab coat. This is also where the generator shock was located.
below gives an example.
Hypothesis – Milgram wanted to test his hypothesis, he said, “anyone will obey an order to harm and
inflict pain on an innocent person if that order seemed reasonable and
acceptable”. An example of this is how the Nazi’s obeyed Adolf Eichmann
during the WW2 when ordering the mass killings of the Jews (The Holocaust) in
Participants – There were 40
males between 20 and 50 who participated in this controlled observation and
each were paid $4.50. Their occupations were ranged from unskilled to
professionals, and they were from the New Haven area. They were told they were
taking part in a scientific research to improve memory.
The table below shows the number of participants that took
part in the experiment.
% of Total
Workers, skilled and
Sales, business and
% of total (Age)
Procedure – Participants drew straws to determine their roles – learner
or teacher, although, this was fixed,
and the confederate (Mr. Wallace) was always going to be the learner. Milgram (1963)
created a “phoney shock generator” which was ranged from 15 volts (a light
shock) to 450 (a lethal shock), and each time the learner made a mistake (on
purpose), the teacher was to increase the voltage. If they hesitated, they were
prodded and prompted by the experimenter (John Williams) to increase the voltage with commands such as “please continue” or “the experiment
requires you to continue”.
As seen below – Milgram and the phoney
generator box, and electrodes equipment being attached to the confederate (Mr.
(Afflictor. 2015) (Utah People Post. 2016)
of the results – Most
of the participants disagreed verbally throughout the study, they also felt
stressed and wanted to stop the procedure and even showed signs of anxiety, however,
they obeyed and 65 per cent of the participants continued the procedure to the
maximum of 450 volts, and the entire participants went to at least 300 volts. It
was a surprise to Milgram as he thought only a small number (3%) participants
would continue to 450 volts. This study also shows that the majority of people
are most likely to obey when given authority.
image below shows the percent of participant who obeyed the experimenter.
(psyc150alle. No Date)
The main reason for this prison
experiment was to investigate how rapidly people obeyed orders. Zimbardo (1973)
wanted to find out whether the brutality reported among guards in American
prisons was due to the sadistic personalities of the guards or had it more to
do with the prison environment. The purpose was to understand the development
of norms and the effects of roles, labels, and social expectations in a
simulated prison environment. (Stanford Prison Experiment. No Date)
– The Stanley prison experiment was a set out as a “mock prison” filled with
wooden boards and cages
Toast. No Date)
Participants – The research
team placed newspaper advertisements in the Palo Alto Times and The Stanford
Daily offering $15 per day to male college students for a study on the
psychology of imprisonment. More than 70 applicants answered the ad and were given diagnostic
interviews and personality tests to eliminate candidates with psychological
problems, medical disabilities, or a history of crime or drug abuse. 24
students (chosen from 75
volunteers) took part in this experiment.
(Prison Exp. No Date)
Procedure – Zimbardo and his team
randomly assigned the roles of these 24 students
by a flick of the coin.
Further study to
investigate Obedience to Authority