Millgrams experiment and the Stanford Prison

The Millgrams experiment aimed at understanding how caring and empathic individual could be induced to harm or kill others. The target was the maximum voltage the participant would go to before walking out, with a maximum voltage of 450 volts recorded for obedient participant. Only 26 out of the 40 participants continued to 450 volts. These results could have been produced due to situation rather than the disposition of the participants.

The participants were misinformed about the aim of the experiment and were made to believe that, they were initiating real electric shocks to a real subject. According to prods used withdrawal was not possible for the participants. The participants suffer greatly from stress. This contradicts the ethical principle of protecting the subject. The experimenter could have considered the validity of experiment if the subjects were reminded their right to withdraw (Millgram, 1974).

Stanford prison experiement aimed at investigating the impact of being assigned the role of a prison guard. The study revealed that the behaviour of a normal students randomly allocated to each condition, was influenced by the role assigned to them to the extent that they believe in the position allocated to them. This experiment however, over emphasised the situational explanation. The behaviour of inmates and guards could have emerged from the stereotyped expectations of how inmates and guards should behave (Zimbardo, 1973).

Conclusion From the two experiments, the subjects tend to obey others in authority. We should not be excessively surprised concerning this fact, since if few people obeyed orders, little could be done, and literally there could be no complex society. Reference Zimbardo, P. G. et. al. , (1973). Prisoners and guards in a simulated prison. Naval: Research Review, 30, 4-17. Millgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority: The view of an experiment. New York, Harper & Row.