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Verge 1 Jacqueline Verge Mr.

Sullivan AP Psychology 4 September 2012 Psychology Journal

How would one react under strict instruction to physically harm another being? Would you turn away and stop at a certain point? Would you continue harming a being without an issue? Would you even begin harming them in the first place? Or would you sit there and crack under pressure and become uneasy? Honestly, if I were put into such a situation, I do not know how I would react. Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychologist, conducted an experiment to test if there was a mutual sense of morality among Nazis that were involved with the Holocaust. The experiment had three subjects involved: the teacher, the experimenter, and the learner. The teacher received an electric shock from the generator as a sample of the shock so they would further believe the experiment was legitimate. The teacher and learner were both then given a list of word pairs which the learner was to memorize, and the teacher was to quiz. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer. (The learner was not actually receiving shocks, he was an actor with a heart condition. The teacher did, however, believe he was giving the shocks). If at any time the subject indicated his desire to discontinue the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, in this specific

Verge 2 order: please continue, the experiment requires that you continue, it is absolutely essential that you continue, you have no other choice, you must go on. Of the 40 teachers, 26 administered the maximum amount of shock that could be given (450-volts). Before conducting the experiment, Milgram polled some Yale Psychology majors to predict the behavior of 100 hypothetical teachers. All of the poll respondents believed that only a small amount of people would administer the maximum voltage. Obviously, the experiment showed otherwise. 65% went to the maximum voltage. This is what truly gets me. I would love to say that I would not be able to even begin to shock a learner, but in reality would I truly do that? The way I have been raised has taught me to obey instructions given to me, and not talk back and so on. (To an extent I follow this). Would the way I was raised affect the way I would behave in such a situation? Inflicting intentional pain on someone is not something I have ever been able to do, but I have never been pushed and strictly instructed into doing so. This worries me. Are humans, even the most innocent looking, one of the most corrupt creatures? I just hope I am never put in this situation. But thanks to AP Psychology, if I ever do end up in this experiment I will know its a staged experiment! So no worries there!