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Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1963, Vol. 67, No. 4, 371-378 BEHAVIORAL STUDY OF OBEDIENCE1 STANLEY MILGRAM 2 Yale University This article describes a procedure for the study of destructive obedience in the laboratory. It consists of ordering a naive S to administer increasingly more severe punishment to a victim in the context of a learning experiment. Punishment is administered by means of a shock generator with 30 graded switches ranging from Slight Shock to Danger: Severe Shock. The victim is a confederate of the E. The primary dependent variable is the maximum shock the S is willing to administer before he refuses to continue further. 26 Ss obeyed the experimental commands fully, and administered the highest shock on the generator. 14 Ss broke off the experiment at some point after the victim protested and refused to provide further answers. The procedure created extreme levels of nervous tension in some Ss. Profuse sweating, trembling, and stuttering were typical expressions of this emotional disturbance. One un- expected sign of tension—yet to be explained—was the regular occurrence of nervous laughter, which in some Ss developed into uncontrollable seizures. The variety of interesting behavioral dynamics observed in the experiment, the reality of the situation for the S, and the possibility of parametric varia- tion within the framework of the procedure, point to the fruitfulness of further study. Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others. Obedience, as a determinant of behavior, is of particular relevance to our time. It has been reliably established that from 1933-45 millions of innocent persons were systematically slaugh- tered on command. Gas chambers were built, death camps were guarded, daily quotas of corpses were produced with the same ef- ficiency as the manufacture of appliances. These inhumane policies may have originated in the mind of a single person, but they could only be carried out on a massive scale if a very large number of persons obeyed orders. Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political pur- pose. It is the dispositional cement that binds men to systems of authority. Facts of recent history and observation in daily life suggest 1 This research was supported by a grant (NSF G-17916) from the National Science Foundation. Exploratory studies conducted in 1960 were sup- ported by a grant from the Higgins Fund at Yale University. The research assistance of Alan C. Elms and Jon Wayland is gratefully acknowledged. 2 Now at Harvard University. that for many persons obedience may be a deeply ingrained behavior tendency, indeed, a prepotent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct. C. P. Snow (1961) points to its importance when he writes: When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion. If you doubt that, read William Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” The German Officer Corps were brought up in the most rigorous code of obedience … in the name of obedience they were party to, and assisted in, the most wicked large scale actions in the history of the world [p. 24]. While the particular form of obedience dealt with in the present study has its ante- cedents in these episodes, it must not be thought all obedience entails acts of aggres- sion against others. Obedience serves numer- ous productive functions. Indeed, the very life of society is predicated on its existence. Obedience may be ennobling and educative and refer to acts of charity and kindness, as well as to destruction. General Procedure A procedure was devised which seems useful as a tool for studying obedience (Milgram, 1961). It consists of ordering 371 372 STANLEY MILGRAM a naive subject to administer electric shock to a victim. A simulated shock generator is used, with 30 clearly marked voltage levels that range from IS to 450 volts. The instru- ment bears verbal designations that range from Slight Shock to Danger: Severe Shock. The responses of the victim, who is a trained confederate of the experimenter, are stand- ardized. The orders to administer shocks are given to the naive subject in the context of a “learning experiment” ostensibly set up to study the effects of punishment on memory. As the experiment proceeds the naive subject is commanded to administer increasingly more intense shocks to the victim, even to the point of reaching the level marked Danger: Severe Shock. Internal resistances become stronger, and at a certain point the subject refuses to go on with the experi- ment. Behavior prior to this rupture is con- sidered “obedience,” in that the subject com- plies with the commands of the experimenter. The point of rupture is the act of disobedi- ence. A quantitative value is assigned to the subject’s performance based on the maximum intensity shock he is willing to administer before he refuses to participate further. Thus for any particular subject and for any par- ticular experimental condition the degree of obedience may be specified with a numerical value. The crux of the study is to systemati- cally vary the factors believed to alter the degree of obedience to the experimental commands. The technique allows important variables to be manipulated at several points in the experiment. One may vary aspects of the source of command, content and form of com- mand, instrumentalities for its execution, target object, general social setting, etc. The problem, therefore, is not one of designing in- creasingly more numerous experimental con- ditions, but of selecting those that best illumi- nate the process of obedience from the socio- psychological standpoint. Related Studies The inquiry bears an important relation to philosophic analyses of obedience and author- ity (Arendt, 1958; Friedrich, 1958; Weber, 1947), an early experimental study of obedience by Frank (1944), studies in “au- thoritarianism” (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford, 1950; Rokeach, 1961), and a recent series of analytic and empirical studies in social power (Cartwright, 1959). It owes much to the long concern with suggestion in social psychology, both in its normal forms (e.g., Binet, 1900) and in its clinical manifestations (Charcot, 1881). But it derives, in the first instance, from direct observation of a social fact; the individual who is commanded by a legitimate authority ordinarily obeys. Obedience comes easily and often. It is a ubiquitous and indispensable feature of social life. METHOD Subjects The subjects were 40 males between the ages of 20 and 50, drawn from New Haven and the sur- rounding communities. Subjects were obtained by a newspaper advertisement and direct mail solicita- tion. Those who responded to the appeal believed they were to participate in a study of memory and learning at Yale University. A wide range of occupations is represented in the sample. Typical subjects were postal clerks, high school teachers, salesmen, engineers, and laborers. Subjects ranged in educational level from one who had not finished elementary school, to those who had doctorate and other professional degrees. They were paid $4.50 for their participation in the experiment. However, sub- jects were told that payment was simply for coming to the laboratory, and that the money was theirs no matter what happened after they arrived. Table 1 shows the proportion of age and occupational types assigned to the experimental condition. Personnel and Locale The experiment was conducted on the grounds of Yale University in the elegant interaction laboratory. (This detail is relevant to the perceived legitimacy of the experiment. In further variations, the experi- TABLE 1 DISTRIBUTION OF AGE AND OCCUPATIONAL TYPES IN THE EXPERIMENT Occupations Workers, skilled and unskilled Sales, business, and white-collar Professional Percentage of total (Age) 20-29 years 4 3 1 20 30-39 years 5 6 S 40 40-50 years 6 7 3 40 Percentage of total (Occupa- tions) 37.S 40.0 22.5 Note.—Total N = 40. OBEDIENCE 373 ment was dissociated from the university, with consequences for performance.) The role of experi- menter was played by a 31-year-old high school teacher of biology. His manner was impassive, and his appearance somewhat stern throughout the experiment. He was dressed in a gray technician’s coat. The victim was played by a 47-year-old accountant, trained for the role; he was of Irish- American stock, whom most observers found mild- mannered and likable. Procedure One naive subject and one victim (an accomplice) performed in each experiment. A pretext had to be devised that would justify the administration of electric shock by the naive subject. This was ef- fectively accomplished by the cover story. After a general introduction on the presumed relation be- tween punishment and learning, subjects were told: But actually, we know very little about the effect of punishment on learning, because almost no truly scientific studies have been made of it in human beings. For instance, we don’t know how much punish- ment is best for learning—and we don’t know how much difference it makes as to who is giving the punishment, whether an adult learns best from a younger or an older person than himself—or many things of that sort. So in this study we are bringing together a number of adults of different occupations and ages. And we’re asking some of them to be teachers and some of them to be learners. We want to find out just what effect different people have on each other as teachers and learn- ers, and also what effect punishment will have on learning in this situation. Therefore, I’m going to ask one of you to be the teacher here tonight and the other one to be the learner. Does either of you have a preference? Subjects then drew slips of paper from a hat to determine who would be the teacher and who would be the learner in the experiment. The drawing was rigged so that the naive subject was always the teacher and the accomplice always the learner. (Both slips contained the word “Teacher.”) Immediately after the drawing, the teacher and learner were taken to an adjacent room and the learner was strapped into an “electric chair” apparatus. The experimenter explained that the straps were to prevent excessive movement while the learner was being shocked. The effect was to make it im- possible for him to escape from the situation. An electrode was attached to the learner’s wrist, and electrode paste was applied “to avoid blisters and burns.” Subjects were told that the electrode was attached to the shock generator in the adjoining room. In order to improve credibility the experimenter declared, in response to a question by the learner: “Although the shocks can be extremely painful, they cause no permanent tissue damage.” Learning task. The lesson administered by the subject was a paired-associate learning task. The subject read a series of word pairs to the learner, and then read the first word of the pair along with four terms. The learner was to indicate which of the four terms had originally been paired with the first word. He communicated his answer by pressing one of four switches in front of him, which in turn lit up one of four numbered quadrants in an answer- box located atop the shock generator. Shock generator. The instrument panel consists of 30 lever switches set in a horizontal line. Each switch is clearly labeled with a voltage designa- tion that ranges from IS to 450 volts. There is a 15-volt increment from one switch to the next going from left to right. In addition, the following verbal designations are clearly indicated for groups of four switches going from left to right: Slight Shock, Moderate Shock, Strong Shock, Very Strong Shock, Intense Shock, Extreme Intensity Shock, Danger: Severe Shock. (Two switches after this last designa- tion are simply marked XXX.) Upon depressing a switch: a pilot light correspond- ing to each switch is illuminated in bright red; an electric buzzing is heard; an electric blue light, labeled “voltage energizer,” flashes; the dial on the voltage meter swings to the right; various relay clicks are sounded. The upper left-hand corner of the generator is labeled Shock Generator, Type ZLB, Dyson Instru- ment Company, Waltham, Mass. Output IS Volts- 4SO Volts. Details of the instrument were carefully handled to insure an appearance of authenticity. The panel was engraved by precision industrial engravers, and all components were of high quality. No subject in the experiment suspected that the instrument was merely a simulated shock generator.3 Sample shock. Each naive subject is given a sample shock on the shock generator, prior to be- ginning his run as teacher. This shock is always 45 volts, and is applied by pressing the third switch of the generator. The shock is applied to the wrist of the naive subject, and has its source in a 45-volt battery wired into the generator. This further convinces the subject of the authenticity of the generator. Shock instructions. The subject is told to admin- ister a shock to the learner each time he gives a 8 A related technique, making use of a shock generator, was reported by Buss (1961) for the study of aggression in the laboratory. Despite the considerable similarity of technical detail in the experimental procedures, both investigators proceeded in ignorance of the other’s work. Milgram provided plans and photographs of his shock generator, experi- mental procedure, and first results in a report to the National Science Foundation in January 1961. This report received only limited circulation. Buss re- ported his procedure 6 months later, but to a wider audience. Subsequently, technical information and reports were exchanged. The present article was first received in the Editor’s office on December 27, 1961; it was resubmitted with deletions on July 27, 1962. 374 STANLEY MILGRAM wrong response. Moreover—and this is the key command—the subject is instructed to “move one level higher on the shock generator each time the learner flashes a wrong answer.” He is also instructed to announce the voltage level before administering a shock. This serves to continually remind subjects of the increasing intensity of shocks administered to the learner. Preliminary and regular run. Pretests revealed that the procedure of reading words and administer- ing shocks requires some practice before it can be handled smoothly. Therefore, immediately preceding the regular run, the teacher is given a preliminary series of 10 words to read to the learner. There are 3 neutral words in the. practice series (i.e., words that the learner answers correctly), so that shocks are administered for 7 of the words, with the maximum shock at 105 volts (moderate shock). Almost all subjects master the procedure by the time the preliminary run is over. Subjects are then presented with a second list, and are told that the procedure is the same as for the first list; the experimenter adds, however: When you get to the bottom of the list, repeat it over again, and continue giving shocks, until the learner has learned all the pairs correctly. The experimenter instructs the subject to, start from 15 volts and increase the shock level one step each time the learner gives a wrong answer. Feedback from the victim. In all conditions the learner gives a predetermined set of responses to the word pair test, based on a schedule of approxi- mately three wrong answers to one correct answer. In the present experimental condition no vocal re- sponse or other sign of protest is heard from the learner until Shock Level 300 is reached. When the 300-volt shock is administered, the learner pounds on the wall of the room in which he is bound to the electric chair. The pounding can be heard by the subject. From this point on, the learner’s answers no longer appear on the four-way panel. At this juncture, subjects ordinarily turn to the experimenter for guidance. The experimenter in- structs the subject to treat the absence of a response as a wrong answer, and to shock the subject accord- ing to the usual schedule. He advises the subjects to allow S-10 s«conds before considering no response as a wrong answer, and to increase the shock level one step each time the learner fails to respond cor- rectly. The learner’s pounding is repeated after the 315-volt shock is administered; afterwards he is not heard from, nor do his answers reappear on the four-way signal box. Experimenter feedback. At various points in the experiment the subject may turn to the experimenter for advice on whether he should continue to admin- ister shocks. Or he may indicate that he does not wish to go on. It was important to standardize the experimenter’s responses to these inquiries and reactions. If the subject indicated his unwillingness to go on, the experimenter responded with a sequence of “prods,” using as many as necessary to bring the subject into line. Prod 1 : Please continue, or Please go on. Prod 2: The experiment requires that you con- tinue. Prod 3: It is absolutely essential that you con- tinue. Prod 4: You have no other choice, you must go on. The prods were always made in sequence: Only if Prod 1 had been unsuccessful, could Prod 2 be used. If the subject refused to obey the experi- menter after Prod 4, the experiment was terminated. The experimenter’s tone of voice was at all times firm, but not impolite. The sequence was begun anew on each occasion that the subject balked or showed reluctance to follow orders. Special prods. If the subject asked if the learner was liable to suffer permanent physical injury, the experimenter said: Although the shocks may be painful, there is no permanent tissue damage, so please go on. [Followed by Prods 2, 3, and 4 if necessary.] If the subject said that the learner did not want to go on, the experimenter replied: Whether the learner likes it or not, you must go on until he has learned all the word pairs correctly. So please go on. [Followed by Prods 2, 3, and 4 if necessary.] Dependent Measures The primary dependent measure for any subject is the maximum shock he administers before he refuses to go any further, In principle this may vary from 0 (for a subject who refuses to administer even the first shock) to 30 (for a subject who administers the highest shock on the generator). A subject who breaks off the experiment at any point prior to administering the thirtieth shock level is termed a defiant subject. One who complies with experimental commands fully, and proceeds to ad- minister all shock levels commanded, is termed an obedient subject. Further records. With few exceptions, experi- mental sessions were recorded on magnetic tape. Occasional photographs were taken through one-way mirrors. Notes were kept on any unusual behavior occurring during the course of the experiments. On occasion, additional observers were directed to write objective descriptions of the subjects’ behavior. The latency and duration of shocks were measured by accurate timing devices. Interview and dehoax. Following the experiment, subjects were interviewed; open-ended questions, projective measures, and attitude scales were em- ployed. After the interview, procedures ‘ taken to assure that the s’uoject would leave the RBoratory in a state of well being. A friendly reconciliation was arranged between thejubject and 5ie~vlctimj and an effort was made to^Feduce any tensions that arose as a result of the experiment. OBEDIENCE 375 RESULTS Preliminary Notions Before giving an account of the experi- mental results, it is instructive to consider how persons predict others will perform when commanded to administer powerful shocks to another person. Fourteen Yale seniors, all psychology majors, were provided with a detailed description of the experimental situa- tion. They were asked to reflect carefully on it, and to predict the behavior of 100 hypo- thetical subjects. More specifically, they were instructed to plot the distribution of obedi- ence of “100 Americans of diverse occupa- tions, and ranging in age from 20 to SO years,” who were placed in the experimental situation. There was considerable agreement among the respondents on the expected behavior of hypothetical subjects. All respondents pre- dicted that only an insignificant minority would go through to the end of the shock series. (The estimates ranged from 0 to 3%; i.e., the most “pessimistic” member of the class predicted that of 100 persons, 3 would con- tinue through to the most potent shock avail- able on the shock generator—450 volts.) The class mean was 1.2%. The question was also posed informally to colleagues of the author, and the most general feeling was that few if any subjects would go beyond the designation Very Strong Shock. Result of Experiment I Subjects accept situation. With few excep- tions subjects were convinced of the reality of the experimental situation, that they were administering shocks to another person, and the most potent shocks were extremely painful. In the post-experimental interview subjects were asked: “How painful to the learner were the last few shocks that you administered to him?” Subjects were instructed to indicate their answers on a printed 14-point scale ranging from “Not at all painful” to “Extremely painful.” The modal response was 14 (Extremely painful) with the mean at 13.42. Signs of extreme tension. Many subjects showed signs of nervousness in the experi- mental situation, and especially upon ad- ministering the more powerful shocks. In a large number of cases the degree of tension reached extremes that are rarely seen in sociopsychological laboratory studies. Sub- jects were observed to sweat, tremble, stutter, bite their lips, groan, and dig their finger- nails into their flesh. These were character- istic rather than exceptional responses to the experiment. One sign of tension was the regular occur- rence of nervous laughing fits. Fourteen of the 40 subjects showed definite signs of nervous laughter and smiling. The laughter seemed entirely out of place, even bizarre. Full-blown, uncontrollable seizures were ob- served for 3 subjects. On one occasion we observed a seizure so violently convulsive that it was necessary to call a halt to the experiment. The subject, a 46-year-old en- cyclopedia salesman, was seriously embar- rassed by his untoward and uncontrollable behavior. In the post-experimental interviews subjects took pains to point out that they were not sadistic types, and that the laughter did not mean they enjoyed shocking the victim. Distribution of scores. It had been con- jectured that persons would not, in general, agree to administer shocks beyond the level designated as Very Strong Shock. The dis- tribution of maximum shocks for this experi- ment is shown in Table 2. The obtained dis- tribution of scores deviates radically from the prediction. Upon command of the experimenter, each of the 40 subjects went beyond the expected breakoff point. No subject stopped prior to administering Shock Level 20. (At this level —300 volts—the victim kicks on the wall and no longer provides answers to the teacher’s multiple-choice questions.) Of the 40 subjects, 5 refused to obey the experimental commands beyond the 300-voIt level. Four more subjects administered one further shock, and then refused to go on. Two broke off at the 330-volt level, and 1 each at 345, 360, and 375 volts. Thus a total of 14 subjects defied the experimenter. It is instructive to reprint their remarks at the point of defiance, as transcribed from the tape recordings: [0124] I think he’s trying to communicate, he’s knocking. . . . Well it’s not fair to shock the guy . . . these are terrific volts. I don’t think this is 376 STANLEY MILGEAM TABLE 2 DISTRIBUTION or BREAKorr POINTS Verbal designation and voltage indication Slight Shock IS 30 45 60 Moderate Shock 75 90 105 120 Strong Shock 135 150 165 180 Very Strong Shock 195 210 225 240 Intense Shock 255 270 285 300 Extreme Intensity Shock 315 330 345 360 Danger: Severe Shock 375 390 405 420 XXX 435 450 Number of subjects for whom this was maximum shock 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 4 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 26 very humane. . . . Oh, I can’t go on with this; no, this isn’t right. It’s a hell of an experiment. The guy is suffering in there. No, I don’t want to go on. This is crazy. [Subject refused to administer more shocks.] [0123] He’s banging in there. I’m gonna chicken out. I’d like to continue, but I can’t do that to a man. . . . I’m sorry I can’t do that to a man. I’ll hurt his heart. You take your check. … No really, I couldn’t do it. These subjects were frequently in a highly agitated and even angered state. Sometimes, verbal protest was at a minimum, and the subject simply got up from his chair in front of the shock generator, and indicated that he wished to leave the laboratory. Of the 40 subjects, 26 obeyed the orders of the experimenter to the end, proceeding to punish the victim until they reached the most potent shock available on the shock generator. At that point, the experimenter called a halt to the session. (The maximum shock is labeled 450 volts, and is two steps beyond the designation: Danger: Severe Shock.) Although obedient subjects continued to administer shocks, they often did so under extreme stress. Some expressed reluctance to administer shocks beyond the 300-volt level, and displayed fears similar to those who defied the experimenter; yet they obeyed. After the maximum shocks had been de- livered, and the experimenter called a halt to the proceedings, many obedient subjects heaved sighs of relief, mopped their brows, rubbed their fingers over their eyes, or nervously fumbled cigarettes. Some shook their heads, apparently in regret. Some sub- jects had remained calm throughout the experiment, and displayed only minimal signs of tension from beginning to end. DISCUSSION The experiment yielded two findings that were surprising. The first finding concerns the sheer strength of obedient tendencies manifested in this situation. Subjects have learned from childhood that it is a funda- mental breach of moral conduct to hurt an- other person against his will. Yet, 26 subjects abandon this tenet in following the instruc- tions of an authority who has no special powers to enforce his commands. To disobey would bring no material loss to the subject; no punishment would ensue. It is clear from the remarks and outward behavior of many participants that in punishing the victim they are often acting against their own values. Subjects often expressed deep disapproval of shocking a man in the face of his objections, and others denounced it as stupid and sense- less. Yet the majority complied with the experimental commands. This outcome was surprising from two perspectives: first, from the standpoint of predictions made in the questionnaire described earlier. (Here, how- ever, it is possible that the remoteness of the respondents from the actual situation, and the difficulty of conveying to them the con- OBEDIENCE 377 crete details of the experiment, could account for the serious underestimation of obedience.) But the results were also unexpected to persons who observed the experiment in progress, through one-way mirrors. Observers often uttered expressions of disbelief upon seeing a subject administer more powerful shocks to the victim. These persons had a full acquaintance with the details of the situation, and yet systematically mated the amount of obedience that subjects would disglay. Thr Mrnnd unanticipated effect was the extraordinary tension generated by the pro- cedures. One might suppose that a subject would simply break off or continue as his conscience dictated. Yet, this is very far from what happened. There were striking reac- tions of tension and emotional strain. One observer related: I observed a mature and initially poised business- man enter the laboratory smiling and confident. Within 20 minutes he was reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck, who was rapidly approaching a point of nervous collapse. He constantly pulled on his earlobe, and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and muttered: “Oh God, let’s stop it.” And yet he continued to respond to every word of the experimenter, and obeyed to the end. Any understanding of the phenomenon of obedience must rest on an analysis of the particular conditions in which it occurs. The following features of the experiment go some distance in explaining the high amount of obedience observed in the situation. 1. The experiment is sponsored by and takes place on the grounds of an institution of unimpeachable reputation, Yale Univer- sity. It may be reasonably presumed that the personnel are competent and reputable. The importance of this background authority is now being studied by conducting a series of experiments outside of New Haven, and without any visible ties to the university. 2. The experiment is, on the face of it, designed to attain a worthy purpose — ad- vancement of knowledge about learning and memory. Obedience occurs not as an end in itself, but as an instrumental element in a situation that the subject construes as sig- nificant, and meaningful. He may not be able to see its full significance, but he may properly assume that the experimenter does. 3. The subject perceives that the victim has voluntarily submitted to the authority system of the experimenter. He is not (at first) an unwilling captive impressed for in- voluntary service. He has taken the trouble to come to the laboratory presumably to aid the experimental research. That he later becomes an involuntary subject does not alter the fact that, initially, he consented to par- ticipate without qualification. Thus he has in some dgeree incurred an obligation toward the experimenter. 4. The subject, too, has entered the experi- ment voluntarily, and perceives himself under obligation to aid the experimenter. He has made a commitment, and to disrupt the experiment is a repudiation of this initial promise of aid. 5. Certain features of the procedure strengthen the subject’s sense of obligation to the experimenter, For one, he has been paid for coming to the laboratory. In part this is canceled out by the experimenter’s statement that: Of course, as in all experiments, the money is yours simply for coming to the laboratory. From this point on, no matter what happens, the money is yours.4 6. From the subject’s standpoint, the fact that he is the teacher and the other man the learner is purely a chance consequence (it is determined by drawing lots) and he, the subject, ran the same risk as the other man in being assigned the role of learner. Since the assignment of positions in the experiment was achieved by fair means, the learner is deprived of any basis of complaint on this count. (A similar situation obtains in Army units, in which—in the absence of volunteers—a particularly dangerous mission may be assigned by drawing lots, and the unlucky soldier is expected to bear his mis- fortune with sportsmanship.) 7. There is, at best, ambiguity with regard to the prerogatives of a psychologist and the corresponding rights of his subject. There is a vagueness of expectation concerning what a psychologist may require of his subject, and when he is overstepping acceptable limits. 4 Forty-three subjects, undergraduates at Yale University, were run in the experiment without pay- ment. The results are very similar to those obtained with paid subjects. 378 STANLEY MILGRAM Moreover, the experiment occurs in a closed setting, and thus provides no opportunity for the subject to remove these ambiguities by discussion with others. There are few standards that seem directly applicable to the situation, which is a novel one for most subjects. 8. The subjects are assured that the shocks administered to the subject are “painful but not dangerous.” Thus they assume that the discomfort caused the victim is momentary, while the scientific gains resulting from the experiment are enduring, 9. Through Shock Level 20 the victim continues to provide answers on the signal box. The subject may construe this as a sign that the victim is still willing to “play the game.” It is only after Shock Level 20 that the victim repudiates the rules com- pletely, refusing to answer further. These features help to explain the high amount of obedience obtained in this experiment. Many of the arguments raised need not remain matters of speculation, but can be reduced to testable propostions to be confirmed or disproved by further experiments.” The following features of the experiment concern the nature of the conflict which the subject faces. 10. The subject is placed in a position in which he must respond to the competing demands of two persons: the experimenter and the victim. The conflict must be resolved by meeting the demands of one or the other; satisfaction of the victim and the experimenter are mutually exclusive. Moreover, the resolution must take the form of a highly visible action, that of continu- ing to shock the victim or breaking off the experiment. Thus the subject is forced into a public conflict that does not permit any completely satisfactory solution. 11. While the demands of the experimenter carry the weight of scientific authority, the demands of the victim spring from his per- sonal experience of pain and suffering. The two claims need not be regarded as equally pressing and legitimate. The experimenter seeks an abstract scientific datum; the victim 5 A series of recently completed experiments employing the obedience paradigm is reported in Milgram (1964). cries out for relief from physical suffering caused by the subject’s actions. 12. The experiment gives the subject little time for reflection. The conflict comes on rapidly. It is only minutes after the sub- ject has been seated before the shock gen- erator that the victim begins his protests. Moreover, the subject perceives that he has gone through but two-thirds of the shock levels at the time the subject’s first protests are heard. Thus he understands that the conflict will have a persistent aspect to it, and may well become more intense as in- creasingly more powerful shocks are required. The rapidity with which the conflict descends on the subject, and his realization that it is predictably recurrent may well be sources of tension to him. 13. At a more general level, the conflict stems from the opposition of two deeply ingrained behavior dispositions: first, the dis- position not to harm other people, and sec- ond, the tendency to obey those whom we perceive to be legitimate authorities. REFERENCES ADORNO, T., FRENKEL-BRUNSWIK, ELSE, LEVINSON, D. J., & SANTORD, R. N. The authoritarian person- ality. New York: Harper, 1950. ARENDT, H. What was authority? In C. J. Friedrich (Ed.), Authority. Cambridge: Harvard Univer. Press, 1958. Pp. 81-112. BINET, A. La suggestibility. Paris: Schleicher, 1900. Buss, A. H. The psychology of aggression. New York: Wiley, 1961. CARTWRIGHT, S. (Ed.) Studies in social power. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, 1959. CHARCOT, J. M. Oeuvres completes. Paris: Bureaux du Progres Medical, 1881. FRANK, J. D. Experimental studies of personal pressure and resistance. /. gen. Psychol, 1944, 30, 23-64. FRIEDRICH, C. J. (Ed.) Authority. Cambridge: Harvard Univer. Press, 19S8. MILGRAM, S. Dynamics of obedience. Washington: National Science Foundation, 25 January 1961. (Mimeo) MILGRAM, S. Some conditions of obedience and disobedience to authority. Hum. Relat., 1964, in press. ROKEACH, M. Authority, authoritarianism, and con- formity. In I. A. Berg & B. M. Bass (Eds.), Conformity and deviation. New York: Harper, 1961. Pp. 230-257. SNOW, C. P. Either-or. Progressive, 1961 (Feb.), 24. WEBER, M. The theory of social and economic organization. Oxford: Oxford Univer. Press, 1947. (Received July 27, 1962)
just fix it and add one pages more
Running head: BEHAVIORAL STUDY OF OBEDIENCE 0 Obedience binds men to the systems of authority. The study aim at studying obedience by a laboratory experiment in which the subjects administers the shock to the victim until the maximum shock point the subject refuses to continue with the experiment. The subjects who fully obeyed the experimental commands are obedient, and those who declined to continue with the commands after a while are disobedient (Milgram, 1963). Authoritarianism; obedience to authority against will, correspond to this experiment. The major hypothesis for this experiment is that the subjects will obey the experimental command administer to the victims the highest shock on the generator. Another hypothesis is that the victims will positively respond to the experiment. According to Milgram, the study sample subjects comprised of 40 males between 20 and 50 years of age all from New Haven and neighboring communities. Newspaper advertisement, as well as direct mail solicitation, were the means of obtaining the subjects. The sample represented a broad range of occupations including postal clerks, teachers, engineers, and laborers. Also, the educational level of the subjects ranged from those who did not complete the elementary school to doctorate level (1963). Procedure The experiment took place in an elegant interaction laboratory in Yale University. The experiment is performed by ordering a naïve subject to administer an electric shock to a victim. The subjects picked papers from a hat to determine the teacher and the learner in the experiment, but the naïve subject was the teacher and the accomplice the learner. The naïve subject is given the orders to administer the shocks to the learner in the learning experiment set up to find out the effects punishment has in the memory. The learned was strapped into an electric chair to avoid excess movements and electrode attached to the waist of the learner which was connected to the shock generator which is labeled a range of 15 and 450 volts. Electrode paste is administered to avoid burns and blisters. The teacher administers an increasingly intense shock to the learner to a severe shock level. At the point prior to the subject refusing to continue with the experiment is obedience and the point at which the subject refuses is disobedience (Milgram, 1963). From the experiment, 26 subjects abandoned their moral conduct of hurting another human against his will and followed the instructions of authority with no powers of enforcing his command. Some subjects expressed disapproval of the experiment and others complied with experimental commands but showed a sign of relief after the experiment. It is evident that the participants are always acting against their values in punishing the victims. Another finding is that there was tension as well as emotional strain among the subjects (Milgram, 1963). First, there was miscommunication between the researcher and the participant in selection. The subjects were meant to understand that upon selection they were to take part in the study of memory and learning with no details of the experiment involved. Therefore, they volunteered to participate with little clue on the experiment hence it was their obligation to take part in the experiment. The study subjects were not inclusive as it comprised of only male participants and limited age bracket. Therefore, the findings of the experiment is not a representative of the whole population. The selected subjects are from New Haven and its surroundings which many have ties to the University thereby affecting the authenticity of the results. The researcher should communicate in details about the experiment so that the subjects can volunteer knowing what they are getting into and the study should include both men and women for better results and representation of the whole population. Also, the study should be conducted in other areas with little ties to the university to ensure the authenticity of the findings. References Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of obedience. The Journal of abnormal and social psychology, 67(4), 371-378.


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