Obedience & Authority in Psychology: Stanley Milgram's Experiment

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Bautista
What types of social situations make it more likely that we'll obey authority? You'll observe Milgram's electric shock experiment and what it revealed about the relationship between obedience and authority.

How far would you go to obey authority? Would you go against your own conscience?

Milgram's Obedience Experiment

Psychologist Stanley Milgram
Milgrams Experiment

Perhaps one of the most famous psychological experiments of all time, Stanley Milgram's controversial obedience study set out to demonstrate the extent to which people follow the instructions of authority figures. Forty male volunteers between the ages of 20 and 50 were told that they were involved in a learning experiment and were directed to administer electric shocks by flipping a switch when the actor in a separate room responded with a wrong answer. Unbeknownst to the participants, the actor was actually not being shocked but was acting as though he was.

The participants were instructed by this Yale scientist to increase the level of intensity by 15 volts each time the actor answered incorrectly. Five of the 40 of the participants refused to continue after 300 volts when the actor screamed and banged on the wall, acting as if he was in excruciating pain.

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