A Summary Of &Quot;The Perils Of Obedience&Quot;

691 words - 3 pages

In "The Perils of Obedience," Stanley Milgram conducted a study that tests the conflict between obedience to authority and one's own conscience. Through the experiments, Milgram discovered that the majority of people would go against their own decisions of right and wrong to appease the requests of an authority figure.

The study was set up as a "blind experiment" to capture if and when a person will stop inflicting pain on another as they are explicitly commanded to continue. The participants of this experiment included two willing individuals: a teacher and a learner. The teacher being the real subject and the learner is merely an actor. Both were told that they would be involved in a study that tests the effects of punishment on learning. The learner was strapped into a chair that resembles a miniature electric chair, and was told he would have to learn a small list of word pairs. For each incorrect answer he would be given electric shocks of increasing intensity ranging from 15 to 450 volts. The experimenter informed the teacher's job was to administer the shocks. The experimenter's job was to oversee that the experiment was completed. While the teacher is the main focus and subject of the experiment, the learner is merely an actor.

Gretchen Brandt was a subject in the experiment who supported Milgram's and other psychologists' predictions regarding the outcome. She demonstrated that a person with a resolute state of mind would use their moral judgment and not inflict pain on another person. Throughout Brandt's experiment, the learner complained about the shocks, stating he had a heart condition. After Brandt administered 210 volts, she told the experimenter that she didn't believe they should continue. The experimenter calmly instructed her to continue until the learner had learned all the word pairs correctly. Brandt was firm with her decision and stated she believed the shocks were hurting the learner. She refused to administer any more shocks, and the experiment ended.

Many various members of the populace who believed that only a...

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