Milgram’s Experiment

The elements of Milgram’s Experiment





The Milgram’s experiment is one of the examples illustrating how the social system works. After publishing a newspaper advert about his study, Milgram intended to get volunteers for his study to determine how punishment can yield good results in the learning process. The subjects, one acting as the teacher and the other as the learner, were taken into separate rooms. The learner was strapped in a chair connected to electric power. The power used was not more than 450 volts to avoid damaging body tissues (Chalenor). The teacher read a list of questions and each time the learner failed, he would receive a shock, but if he were right, the teacher would pass to the next question. The shock began from 15 volts and was increased slowly to 450 volts. Chalenor adds that the twist in the experiment is that Milgram hired the learner and the teacher was the volunteer for the experiment. Milgram wanted to discover if people could administer severe punishments on other people if they were ordered by an authority. In the experiment, most of the teachers complained, but the authority ordered them to continue administering the shock while others did not protest at all.

The purpose of this study was to show how an authority can make people harm their friends and colleagues. It finally found that 65 percent of the people could have administered the shock till the end of the experiment because of the obedience to the authority. The interconnection created in the experiment is that authorities play a major role in impacting on the actions of their subjects. The subjects obey the authorities because they believe that the directives given come from a legitimate source (Chalenor). When the learner asked the teacher to continue, the teacher hesitated but when Milgram ordered the teacher to continue the teacher obeyed.

The study is relevant to the society at large. It is a representation of the society’s structure through a shift from an individual level to the collective nature of the society under an authoritative figure. The study shows that authorities are part of the society’s social order. According to Chalenor, it explains the reason people are willing to remain submissive to the authorities. In short, the experiment focused on the force brought by an authority that makes people obedient, hence influencing their behavior. It suggests that people always want to be obedient and remain subservient. It is evident from this study that a free society does not exist as long people follow orders instead of resisting. Below is the Top down obedience chart.



Jessica Wang



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