The Memory Experiment

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In a well-known series of studies, a social psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1974 recruited men through local newspapers to participate in what was called a “memory experiment” at Yale University. The participants were told to only arrive at the lab to get the payment, once they were there the money was their’ s to keep. Once the participants were at the lab they were received by a man in a lab coat “the experimenter” who briefed them on the experiment. He informed them that the experiment was to observe the effects of punishment on memory. Participants were then assigned their roles at random by drawing slips of paper from a hat. Some participants were to be the “teacher,” whose job would be teaching a series of word pairs to the other participants,…show more content…
If the teacher did not do as asked the experimenter would insist, “The experiment requires that you continue.” If the teacher still did not continue, the experimenter stated, “It’s absolutely essential that you go on.” Finally, if the teacher protested further, the experimenter would demand, “You have no choice, you must go on.” Throughout the experiment, if the teacher showed any signs of not wanting to proceed with the experiment, the experimenter would command that he does. With the increasing shocks the learner’s responses also become intense. He would protest by shouting “You have no right to hold me here!” Shouting turned into screams of excruciating pain as the voltage reached severe levels. As an ultimate resort the learner decided to stop answering but the experimenter asked no response to considered as a wrong answer and to administer the shock. The experiment ultimately reached the “Danger” level and this was when the learner’s response turned into nothing but…show more content…
Answers to this can be found in the similar experiments that Milgram conducted but in different conditions. In one variation of the experiment, Milgram removed the “Yale University” label from the study and conducted the study in a rented office in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Lacking the credible nature provided by the name of Yale University, the number of participants dropped by 17 percent. Another factor contributing to obedience is the proximity of the authority. In another variation the experimenter commanded over a telephone rather than from a desk next to the teacher, and this resulted in the number of participants who administered the highest level of shock decreased drastically by 44 percent. The victim’s proximity had an effect as well. In one variation, the learner was moved right next to the teacher, and when the learner refused to receive the shocks, the teacher had to physically hold out the learner’s arm to a shock plate. Here it was observed that administration to the highest level of shock decreased by 35 percent. However, it is imperative to acknowledge the high levels of obedience participants displayed under conditions, in which the experimenter’s authority was not apparent. Over 20% of the participants followed the orders of delivering lethal “XXX” shocks to the victims even when the commands were made over the phone. It’s also important to point out the
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