Essay on Perils of Obiedience

Submitted By ajorda1313
Words: 1076
Pages: 5

Alex Jordan
Professor Stahl
English 1101 Section 145
15 September 2014
Obedience: Engraved or a Desire? American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram is author and publisher of the article “The Perils of Obedience” released in 1974. Throughout this article Stanley explains his findings through an experiment he conducted at Yale University to test how far people were willing to go to obey the person that is in authority even if it meant causing pain to another person. Milgram argues that obedience is something we feel as if we must do, as if it’s engraved into us, that maybe people are naturally aggressive and want to inflict pain, and that the reason we obey authority is because we know the responsibility is not truly ours (Stanley). In each experiment there would be 3 different roles assigned: a teacher, a learner, and an experimenter. How the process worked was the teacher would recite a series of words to the learner, which was strapped into an electric chair. The learner would have to memorize the words that related to one another, if he answered incorrectly or refused to answer then the learner would receive and electric shock with volts ranging from 15-450 (Stanley). What the teacher did not know was that the learner was actually an actor and did not truly receive any physical pain. The whole experiment is based on the teacher and how he or she reacts when the authority that is over him or her requires them to keep proceeding with the experiment even when the learner is in “pain”. The psychiatrist along with Milgram made the prediction that more than likely most teachers would not be able to carry out the entire experiment once hearing the learner’s screams and complaints (Stanley). In the first experiment that Milgram talks about involved a woman named Gretchen Brandt, she is a thirty one year old medical technician working at Yale Medical School (Stanley). On many different occasions once the learner started showing signs of discomfort she would ask the experimenter if she should continue. She was very obedient up until the 210th volt when she started feeling as if she needed to stop given that the learner was showing that he was in extreme discomfort. The experimenter assures her that the process must continue on. She then begins to start worrying about his heart condition that he had mentioned before the start of the experiment. She then starts mentioning how she does not want to be responsible for anything that happens to this man. After several times of reassuring her that the experiment must go on she finally refuses to continue onward and the experiment is come to a draw (Stanley). She showed some emotion throughout the process and was definitely concerned with the learner’s pain and heart issues, but then again also concerned whether or not she would be responsible if something were to happen to this man. The next experiment mentioned in this article was an unemployed (at the time) fifty year old man named Fred Prozi. He like the teacher before started out calmly but reached tension much sooner at 180 volts (Stanley). He begins questioning the experimenter with very dramatic type questions and arguing with the experimenter. The experimenter tells him that the experiment calls for him to continue. He then begins to question who will be taking the responsibility if anything were to happen to the learner. Once the experimenter lets Prozi know that all responsibility is on him he slows down some with all the questioning. Once getting to the 350th volt he turns to the experimenter and once again reassures that the responsibility is not on him. He actually finishes the entire experiment reaching all the way to 450 volts. He simply carried out with the experiment once he learned that he would not have to take any responsibility for the learner if something indeed happened to him (Stanley). Morris Braveman, a thirty nine year old social worker is another subject