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How evil are you? The Milgram experiment (1961).

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram.

60% people will torture a random stranger if an unknown person in a Lab coat asks them to.

Yes, you read that correct. Let’s know about a psychological experiment known as The Milgram Experiment (1961).

The Setup:

When the prosecution of the Nazis got underway at the Nuremberg Trials, many of the defendants’ excuse was “Hey man, I was just following orders.” Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram wanted to test the willingness of subjects to obey an authority figure. Maybe he could just, you know, ask people? Oh, hell no. That would not be nearly horrifying enough.

Instead, he ran an experiment where the subject was told he was a “teacher” and that his job was to give a memory test to another subject, located in another room. The whole thing was fake and the other subject was an actor.
The subject was told that whenever the other guy gave an incorrect answer, he was to press a button that would give him an electric shock. A guy in a lab coat was there to make sure he did it (again no real shock was being delivered, but the subject, of course, did not know this).

The subject was told that the shocks started at 45 volts and would increase with every wrong answer. Each time they pushed the button, the actor on the other end would scream and beg for the subject to stop.

So, can you guess how this went?

The Result:

Many subjects began to feel uncomfortable after a certain point and questioned continuing the experiment. However, each time the guy in the lab coat encouraged them to continue. Most of them did, upping the voltage, delivering shock after shock while the victim screamed. Many subjects would laugh nervously because laughter is the best medicine when pumping electrical currents through another person’s body.

Eventually, the actor would start banging on the wall that separated him from the subject, pleading about his heart condition. After further shocks, all sounds from victim’s room would cease, indicating he was dead or unconscious. If you had to guess, what percentage of the subjects kept delivering shocks after that point?
Five percent? Ten?

Between 61 and 66 percent of subjects would continue the experiment until it reached the maximum voltage of 450, continuing to deliver shocks after the victim had been zapped into unconsciousness or the afterlife.

Repeated studies have shown the same result: Subjects will mindlessly deliver pain to an innocent stranger as long as a dude in a lab coat says it’s OK.


Discovery channel’s show curiosity had an episode on this experiment (Hosted by Eli Roth) where they re-conducted the experiment after 50 years and obtained worse results. Most subjects wouldn’t begin to object until after 300-volt shocks. Zero of them asked to stop the experiment before that point (keep in mind 100 volts is enough to kill a man, in some cases)…

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How evil are you? The Milgram experiment (1961).


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