Milgram Experiment and Milgram Essay example

Submitted By MatthewDollar
Words: 996
Pages: 4

Matthew Dollar
Professor Jones
English 1101 Section 70
November 18, 2014
Response Remix: Obedience in Human Nature The Collins English Dictionary Defines Human Nature as “the qualities common to Humanity” (Human Nature). These are the things that separate us from other species. The way we think, act, and communicate with each other. It has been suggested by some that one such quality is obedience. Specifically, our obedience to a perceived authority, even when it means abandoning our own conscience. Obedience is apart of everyones life in one way or another whether it’s obeying ones parents or a boss, but is it our nature to obey beyond what we believe is right? Yale Psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment suggesting that people will obey the present authority. Initially his experiments were to explain why thousands of germans killed millions of Jews under the authority of one man. Milgram developed a test that would push people beyond what they believed was right. He tried to convince them that their conscience was less important than the orders given during the test. The controversial experiments revealed under what circumstances people would go so far as to betray what they knew was the right thing to do for the sake of obeying the Experimenter. The Experiments were set up in a way so that a Student, who was was really apart of the experiment, was asked questions by a Teacher, the unknowing tester. The Teacher would ask the questions and every time the student got one wrong he would deliver an electric shock increasing in voltage for every incorrect answer. With this being an experiment the Students answers where really a recording and without knowing this the Teacher would administer the test to the point where they would quit because they could be harming the Student, or until the test was over and they delivered the final lethal dosage of 450 volts. Should the Teacher try to stop the experiment the Experimenter would tell them that they “must continue” and that they “have no choice”. This was the test that was given and Milgram concluded that obedience is just apart of our nature (Stanley Milgram). The Questions remains: Was Milgram’s experiments conclusive enough to prove that people are inherently obedient? Well, yes and no. Prior to the experiment, experts believed that only 1% - 3% would deliver the final shock. However, 25 of the 40 subjects continued “to give shocks until the maximum level of 450 volts was reached.” Now that’s still only 65%, but what’s even more shocking, no pun intended, is that all 40 subjects, though they claimed to feel uncomfortable about it, obeyed up to 300 volts (Stanley Milgram). That seems pretty solid in the case for obedience being apart of our human nature, but this wasn’t the only experiment Milgram conducted. Think of this as the control experiment and what Milgram did next was tweak the variables. Milgram tested many different variations to his original experiment. The two major variations involved the distance between the Teacher, the Student, and the Experimenter. When the Student could not be seen or heard 100% of subjects continued to 450 volts, but when the Student was right next to the teacher and the Student begins “expressing reluctance at 150v, teacher having to force learner’s hand down onto [an] ’electric plate’” the number of Teachers who completed the test was only 30%. You could say that the closer the Student was the less likely the teacher was to continue and the more distant the Student was the more likely. Inversely, The less present the Experimenter was the less likely the Teacher would continue. When the Experimenter was replaced with a recording of instructions only 23% continued to the final shock (Rice). Milgram’s variations show us more than just our capability to betray our conscience but what is really affecting it. The presence of the authority figure directly affects the the Subjects reluctance to complete the test. But it wasn't…