Stanley Milgram's Obedience Study

This handout is designed to outline the research Stanley Milgram conducted in the 1960’s on obedience and how it is relevant to trainee police officers currently working in the community.

Who is Stanley Milgram?
Milgram was one of the most innovative social psychologists of his generation. Born in 1933 to working-class Jewish parents who emigrated to the USA from Europe, he questioned what makes people do evil things (Investigating Psychology ch 2).

Milgram’s Obedience Study
500 men were recruited through a local paper that asked them to take part in a study on memory at Yale University, each volunteer was paid $4 plus expenses. On their arrival the volunteers are told by a serious looking man in a laboratory coat (who is then referred to as the experimenter) that they will be allocated either the role of teacher or learner by drawing a slip of paper. Once this has been done the learner is taken through to a separate room and the teacher watches as they are strapped into a chair and told by the experimenter they will receive electric shocks perpetrated by the teacher for every wrong answer they give during the test, the shocks are described as extremely painful. The teacher is then taken back through and seated in front of a generator that consists of a row of switches that will deliver electric shocks ranging from 15 volts to 450 volts, the test then begins (Investigating Psychology ch 2).
The whole situation is in fact staged with the drawing of the roles fixed to ensure all participants are cast as teachers. The learner is in on the deception and plays their part accordingly, answering questions incorrectly so the teacher will have to administer shocks, their anguished cries heard by the teacher are in fact a recording. The experimenter is also aware and offers the same words of encouragement to each teacher/participant that includes the phrases ’please continue’ and ’you have no choice, you must carry on’(Investigating Psychology ch 2).
This study...