Important Experiments: Stanley Milgram Experiment

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There were three conformity experiments by Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo. The experiments were conducted from the 1950s to the 1970s. The conformity experiments were people trying to understand the way to fit into a group.

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Solomon Asch's conformity experiment was on group conformity. He gathered nine college male students for an experiment he called “visual perception.” There was only one student in the group who was the research subject. The others knew what was going on. The experiment began with two large cards, one with one line, and the other with three lines. The three lines were of different sizes. The college students were asked to find which of the three lines matched the first line on the other card. The one person who was the research subject was the last one to answer. In the first trial, all the volunteers gave the correct answer. In the other trials, the volunteers gave the wrong answer. After many rounds, the research subject gave the wrong answer. This experiment with the research subject showed that we go along with what our peers think, even though we do not think they are right. An ethical concern is our values, if we go along with what other people think how are we ever going to give our opinion. We will go along with the crowd to please them or to not be left out. This is a big problem because how are we going to vote or even stand up for something if all we care is about others.

Stanley Milgram experimented on the conflict between obedience and authority. The experiment began in 1961, he wanted to investigate if Germans were obedient to their authority figures. Milgram selected his participants for his experiments by a newspaper advertising for males. The participants were paired with another male, they drew to find out who would be a leaner and who would be a teacher. The teachers were the real test subjects. The learner was taken into a room with wires attached to his arm. The teacher went into another room with an electric shock generator. They were trying to see how far these people would go to obey their instructor if they have to harm another person. We as people are likely to follow orders given by someone older than us. We tend to obey orders from others if they are in high authority. This is an ethical concern because if they could be led this easy to shock someone, how easy can we be led to kill someone.

Philip Zimbardo examined the power of authority. Zimbardo turned the Stanford University psychology building into a mock prison. He was seeking volunteers to participate in the study of the effect of prison life. These participants did not know each other. Prisoners were treated as an actual criminals. When they arrived at the prison they were stripped and had their belongings took away. These fake guards and prisoners quickly adapted to the behavior. They started taking this experiment very seriously. A riot began the second day and the guards became quite harsh with the prisoners. The guards threaten any prisoner who disobeyed their authority. Within six days Zimbardo shut down the experiment. This experiment showed how quickly a prison environment could change people. Like, when prisoners lack respect for law and order. This experiment was not ethical at all. Zimbardo but real people in danger. We would not be allowed to conduct this experiment today.  

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