Introduction to Psychology

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Adele Sutton

Unit 1- Introduction to Psychology

The aim for Milgram's (1963) experiment was to investigate how far people would go in obeying an authority figure.

Volunteers for the experiment were all males aged 20 to 50 years old from the New Haven area who responded to an advertisement in the paper for a 'study of memory'. Each was paid $4.50 just for turning up. The study took place in a Psychology Laboratory at Yale University. The naïve participant was met by a confederate of Milgram's posing as the 'experimenter', a 31 year old male who remained stern and emotionless throughout the experiment. A rigged draw saw the naïve participant become the 'teacher', and an actor who posed as a fellow volunteer become the 'learner'. The learner was a 47 year old likeable male actor and was another confederate of Milgram's. The teacher witnessed the learner being strapped to a chair, have electrodes attached and a paste applied to avoid blisters and burns from the realistic looking shock generator in the next room.

The fake shock generator had 30 switches marked from 15 volts through to 450 volts and was labelled from 'slight shock' through to 'XXX'. The teacher was instructed to begin the experiment by testing the learner over an intercom. The experimenter told the teacher to administer an electric shock for every incorrect answer the learner gave to a set of premeditated questions and to increase the severity of the shock with each one.

The experiment only came to an end when the teacher either refused to administer anymore shocks or when they reached the maximum shocks possible. Milgram found that 100% of teachers shocked up to 300 volts and 65% to the maximum of 450 volts despite obvious reluctance to continue.

Milgram concluded that people do obey...