The Milgram experiment was conducted by Stanley Milgram in 1961 and made a major contribution to the science of psychology. In this experiment, Milgram shows how people are willing to obey authority even though it contradicts their own conscience and desires. The method of conducting the experiment, its purpose and functioning caused a great deal of resonance at the time, and also caused ethical debates.

Aug 24, 2023 - 18:45
Aug 25, 2023 - 19:44
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The starting point of this experiment: "Does the obedient individual see himself as a subject responsible for his behavior?". Here, authority, obedience and conscience are at the forefront, as well as learning and memory. Milgram conducted his experiment in a special department of Yale University. He found his subjects from newspaper advertisements. Because he did not look for any characteristics in his subjects.  In his first experiment, he included men between the ages of 20-25 and did not tell the participants the main purpose of the experiment. He told them that he was investigating "the effects of punishment on learning" and started the experiment. In the first stage, "teacher and student" were selected by a lottery with the other participant. However, the other participant was part of the experimental group and was written as a teacher on both papers. So the subject will be chosen for any kind of teacher role. Thus, the real subject was the "teacher" and the member of the experimental group was the "student".  After the lottery, the teacher and the student were taken to different rooms where they could not see each other but could only hear each other's voices. 


During the experiment, the teacher gave the student a list of words to learn and memorize, and for each incorrect answer, the teacher administered a progressively increasing electroshock to the student. However, the student (the collaborator) was not actually given an electroshock, but a recorded electroshock and a screaming sound from a voice recorder to make the teacher believe. Each time the level of the electroshock and the sound of screaming was increased. The electroshock level was even increased up to 450 volts. Some subjects asked for the experiment to stop, but were warned by the experimenters to continue. If the subject insisted on quitting after 4 warnings, the experiment was stopped; if they continued, it was stopped after 3 consecutive applications of 450 volts.




In the Milgram experiment, despite the sounds of screaming, pain and crying, no one stopped applying the electroshock before 300 volts. Although all of the subjects stopped at some point and questioned the experiment, they decided to continue the experiment after the warnings. It was even observed that 26 of the 40 participants applied the 450-volt electroshock, albeit in a restless manner. As this experiment shows, under normal circumstances, a compassionate and thoughtful person can do what he or she feels obliged to do in the face of strict management and authority and make someone suffer. The person, however innocent and harmless, can become a powerful weapon in the face of authority.

So ordinary people can be part of the process of destruction. There are very few people who can resist and rebel against authority, even though the evil of what they are doing is obvious.

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