5 November 2008
Ethical Values of Milgram Experiment
In 1963 Stanley Milgram, a psychologist from Yale University, conducted a famous experiment on obedience. For thousands of years people have been ruled by laws. These laws influenced the obedience of the individual. Milgram’s experiment tested these individuals and their obedience. However by today’s standards Milgran’s experiment presented an unethical approach to achieving results.
Milgram’s experiment was designed to study the will power of a person against the demands of an authority figure. According to David Raver, Milgram most likely took interest in this study for “a more personal desire to understand what happened in Germany and other Nazi controlled countries during World War II” (Raver 1.). Milgram used this to find out if the orders given were justification for the actions theses individuals would not have willing done on their own. The design of the experiment was to have two subjects participate in a test of memory. The person being studied, the teacher was instructed to administer electrical shocks to the “student” for every incorrect answer. Theses shocks increased in voltage for every incorrect answer. However the teacher was unaware that the student was an actor and that he was actually not being shocked at all.
The first test was used on Gretchen Brandt. Gretchen was a Yale university medical technician who five years before the test immigrated from Germany. Many times during the experiment the student would complain about pain. After asked to continue the experiment she quickly did so. When she felt as though the student was in serious discomfort she refused to obey the experimenter and continue the experiment. According to Stanley Milgram in, The Perills of Obedience, “her own actions seem to make disobedience a simple and rational deed. Her behavior is the very embodiment of what I envisioned would be true for almost all subjects.” (Milgram).