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What was Milgram's experiment inspired by?

The holocaust - millions of people slaughtered because 'authority figures' said they should be.


Outline the participants.

-40 males
-Aged between 20-50 years old
-From New Haven.
-Obtained through newspaper advertisement
-Paid $4.50 for participation


What happened at the beginning of the experiment?

-Participant and 'victim' actor met (participant thought victim was just another participant).
-Drew names from hat to determine who is teacher/learner (rigged so participant always teacher).
-Taken to room where learner strapped to electric chair and an electrode was strapped to their wrist.


What was the learning task?

Lesson administered by the teacher consisted of a word-pair task in which the teacher listed a series of word pairs to the learner and then read the first word of the pair along with four terms - learner was to indicate which of the four terms had originally been paired with the first word by pressing one of four buttons.


Describe the shock generator.

-30 switches
-15 volt increments
-15-450 volts
-Verbal designations assigned to each group of four switched (e.g. Slight Shock, Moderate Shock, Strong Shock, etc).


What was the sample shock and why was it administered?

Participant given a sample shock of 45 volts to convince the participant that the generator was real.


What instructions was the participant given in terms of shocking the victim?

Teacher instructed to administer shock every time a question was answered wrongly. Told to move one level higher on shock generator each time the learner flashed a wrong answer.


What did the acting victim do at certain predetermined shock levels?

-At 300 volts, learner kicked the wall
-After that, learner gave no answer to next word-pair
-At 315 volts, learner kicked wall again
-After that, learner gave no further feedback


What did the experimenter say if the participant indicated his unwillingness to go on?

The experiment used standardised 'prods'-
Prod 1 - 'Please continue' or 'Please go on.'
Prod 2 - 'The experiment requires that you continue.'
Prod 3 - 'It is absolutely essential that you continue.'
Prod 4 - 'You have no other choice, you must go on.'


What were the predicted results of the experiment?

14 psychology students at Yale University were provided with a detailed description of the experiment and asked to predict the results.
They said only an insignificant minority would go through to the end of the shock series.


What were the actual results of the experiment?

-All participants continued past the 300 volt shock level
-26/40 obeyed orders all the way to 450 volts.
-During the experiment, participants did show signs of extreme tension (sweat, trembling, stutter, biting lips etc.


What are the conclusions of the results?

The results conclude that people are extremely likely to obey orders if an authority figure is giving them.