The man who defied Milgram’s conformity experiment

Jewish Currents has an interesting first person account from one of the people who took part in Stanley Milgram’s famous conformity experiment where 65% of participants were ordered to fatally shock another participant. This article is written by one of the minority who refused to continue.

The learner, said the professor, would be in an adjoining room, out of my sight, and strapped to a chair so that his arms could not move ‚Äî this so that the learner could not jump around and damage the equipment or do harm to himself. I was to be seated in front of a console marked with lettering colored yellow for “Slight Shock” (15 volts) up to purple for “Danger: Severe Shock” (450 volts). The shocks would increase by 15-volt increments with each incorrect answer.

I was very suspicious and asked a number of questions: Isn’t it dangerous? How do you know the learner doesn’t have a bad heart and can’t take the shocks? What if he wants to stop, can he get out of the chair? The professor assured me that the shocks were not painful or harmful since the amperage was lowered as the voltage increased. He let me feel what a 45-volt shock would be like: a slight tickle. I asked the learner if he was willing to do this and why he didn’t have any questions. He said, “Let’s try it.” With some trepidation on my part, we began the experiment.

Link to ‘Resisting Authority’ (via MeFi).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s