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Updated Milgram Experiment

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Psychology
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College of Eastern Utah
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Updated Milgram Experiment
Stanley Milgram conducted his experiment to understand obedience to authority. He
was inspired by the Nazi killings occurring in World War II. The posed question was, were
Holocaust confederates performing these heinous acts simply because of the orders given to
them? Milgram’s experiment sought to explain individuals’ behavior in terms of obedience to
authority. By conducting his experiment, Milgram would find how far individuals are willing
to go to obey the command of an authority figure that is intended to harm another individual.
In the original experiment, volunteers were subject to deceit by unknowingly being
placed into a group purposefully. All volunteers were “teachers”, while all confederates of the
experimenter were “learners”. A laboratory in Yale was used, having two rooms to separate
the teacher and the learner. The learner was confined to an electric chair. The learner was tasked
with learning pairs of words, while the teacher was tasked with assigning punishment if the
learner did not accurately name a word they were asked to recall. The punishment consisted of
the administration of an electric shock which started as low shocks (15 volts), then gradually
increased (450 volts lethal) with each incorrect answer. These shocks were not actually
administered; however, the teachers were made to believe they were. The confederate would
intentionally answer incorrectly, prompting the teacher to administer a shock. The learner
would act as if they were in pain by groaning, complaining, and screaming. If teachers refused
to give the punishment, they were encouraged by the experimenter to continue. It was found
that 65% of the volunteers administered the electric shocks up to the highest voltage, while the
others continued up to 300 volts. Most participants continued to administer the lethal shock
under the experimenter’s request, even when the learners were unresponsive.
Many individuals were displeased with the experiment because of the unethical
procedures used during experimentation. Milgram used deception to make volunteers believe

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they were administering shocks to learners. Another ethical principle that was broken spoke to
nonmaleficence. This holds that there should be no harm inflicted on individuals. This
experiment could have led to negative psychological effects in part of the teacher, since the
experiment was a stressful and traumatic. Throughout the experiment, volunteers were
distraught. In addition, many believed that volunteers were not free to leave the experiment at
any point they want. This breaks a right that research volunteers have. When the volunteers
made it clear that they did not want to participate any further, they were instructed by the
experimenter to continue anyway.
One replication of the Milgram experiment was conducted by Jerry Burger in 2009,
who was determined to understand whether the volunteers would obey authority, even at this
date, where knowledge of the dangers of conformity and obedience circulated. In Burger’s
experiment, there were two conditions: the base condition and the modeled refusal condition.
In the base condition, the demographics of the experimenter and the confederate in this version
of the experiment remained similar to the original experiment. However, one thing Burger did
differently was, he gave both the participant and confederate money ($50) and informed them
that they could keep the money even if they wanted to leave the experiment at any point in
time. The use of deception was also persistent in Burger's experiment, as the "random
assignment" to roles were rigged. Another difference, however, was the fact that both the
volunteer and the confederate were in the same room while the confederate was being strapped
to the electric chair. The volunteer was also made to believe that the confederate had a previous
heart condition. The shock generator used was built to resemble the generator used in the
original experiment. Another difference was that the volunteers were not allowed to administer
any shocks higher than 150 volts.
The volunteers in the modeled refusal condition were subject to the procedures of those
in the base condition, with some exceptions. In this condition, there were two confederates.

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Updated Milgram Experiment Stanley Milgram conducted his experiment to understand obedience to authority. He was inspired by the Nazi killings occurring in World War II. The posed question was, were Holocaust confederates performing these heinous acts simply because of the orders given to them? Milgram’s experiment sought to explain individuals’ behavior in terms of obedience to authority. By conducting his experiment, Milgram would find how far individuals are willing to go to obey the command of an authority figure that is intended to harm another individual. In the original experiment, volunteers were subject to deceit by unknowingly being placed into a group purposefully. All volunteers were “teachers”, while all confederates of the experimenter were “learners”. A laboratory in Yale was used, having two rooms to separate the teacher and the learner. The learner was confined to an electric chair. The learner was tasked with learning pairs of words, while the teacher was tasked with assigning punishment if the learner did not accurately name a word they were asked to recall. The punishment consisted of the administration of an electric shock which started as low shocks (15 volts), then gradually increased (450 volts – lethal) with each incorrect answer. These shocks were not actually administered; however, the teachers were made to believe they were. The confederate would intentionally answer incorrectly, prompting the teacher to administer a shock. The learn ...
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