Sunday, December 14, 2008
Me and The Milgram Experiment
I was part of the Milgram Experiments in the mid 1960s while I was attending C.W. Post College on Long Island. I was recruited for this role in my Psychology class. Person A: the teacher (me) was instructed to ask questions to Person B: (a student) who was in another room. If my student answered incorrectly, I was told to administer shocks. The level and stength of the shock was my decision. Oh by the way, in order to gauge how that shock machine worked, at the beginning I was given the lowest shock. How rude! And there was a person (experimenter) in the other room reminding and encouraging me to give high strength shocks for wrong answers.
I will be very honest. I realized when I was introduced to Person B before the experiment began that she was not really going to be shocked. (Yes, we saw our "victims/students" before the questions and "shocks"). And during the experiment, the person giving the instructions was weak sounding. I was not surprised at the end of the experiment when my "student/victim" and the "experimenter/voice" came out of the other room laughing. I thought the whole thing was a transparent farce.
I wonder how many other participants realized it was phoney. I figured it out right away. The participants were both lousy actors. In spite of the transparency, I gave minimal shocks and I did not become a torturer, perhaps foiling their predictions. It was just so not my thing.