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Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Fry Frenchy

If you've ever taken a psych class, you've probably read up on Milgram's shock experiment. Whether you've heard of it or not, here is the break down.

In 1963, Stanley Milgram published an experiment on obedience to authority. The setup was a room with a microphone, speaker, a dial, and a button. A man in a white lab coat would take you to this room and give you a list of questions and answers. Your job was to ask the questions into the microphone. The answer would come from someone in another room.

If the answer was wrong, you pushed the button which delivered a slight shock to the person on the other end of the speaker. After each wrong answer the dial was increased slightly which raised the level of shock. The dial went all the way up to 450 volts.

The shocks were not real, but you were told they were. At 150 volts the actor on the other end would begin to cry out, and ask to leave the study. This steadily got worse until the actor was screaming and finally completely silent.

At the time of the experiment, 80 percent of the participants were willing to continue to apply the shock after 150 volts. 65% of the ordinary people pushed through to the maximum 450 volts.

45 years later the experiment has been run again on a more experienced American public. We're jaded, and we trust no one. The results...

70% pushed through until they were told to stop.

3 Comments:

Anonymous scott said...

hard to believe there weren't enough people who had heard of the first experiment to influence the results.

1/06/2009 6:52 PM  
Blogger mattjustmull said...

Psych wasn't a required course in High School or College...

1/06/2009 7:56 PM  
OpenID erinfaye said...

I guess there were a few of us in the dinner group that hadn't heard of the experiment. The problem with resisting these behaviors is that we've been told to conform to these behaviors just to make it through school. My favorite lecture from my parents was always, "You have to play by the teacher's rules"--because I would constantly challenge the stupidity of their methods and procedures. Students are expected to conform without challenge to make things "run more smoothly", never was I taught to challenge authority--just the opposite. So I have to wonder if I would be included in that 70%. I'd like to think not...

1/07/2009 2:50 PM  

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