January 4, 2007
I love watching news reports about random things. Learning how disturbing people are, or how sane serial killers may actually seem…pure entertainment. I wasn’t really watching this particular show tonite, so I stumbled upon it while putting things away and getting ready for bed. Both psychological and disturbing…
Primetime: Basic Instinct is the name of the show. And tonites episode was essentially about how far a person will go when someone is directing them to do so. The willingness to shock a complete stranger for the sake of an experiment. 65% of men and 73% of women continued to experiment until the end, and chose to shock the stranger with 150 volts…fake volts. The experiment includes a test subject which is the person administering the shocks, the experiment administrator to coax the test subject into continuing and the learner who is being “shocked.”
The results of the first experiment proved that the test subjects who were uneasy early on were less likely to continue to the end, and also feel more responsible for the well being of the learner. Only one-third of test subjects refused to continue the experiment after hearing the learner scream in pain.
Can you be strong enough to resist a stranger giving you orders in person or over the phone? Why did they obey? Is there anything stopping people from obeying an authority figure? Will an accomplice in the picture acting with the test subject alter the results? With a moral guide is the a decrease in the compliance with the instructor any greater? The answer, normalcy is key. As long as the majority is not protesting, the experiment is more likely to continue. However, if there is more protesting than not, the abnormal thing is to complete the experiment, and it ends almost immediately.
The second part of the experiment involves a voice giving orders to the test subject, telling them to strip the other employee and search them, beat them and even get them to perform a sexual act. The above mentioned experiment was actually performed at a McDonalds a few years ago which ended in the parties involved in the sex acts being sentenced to 3-5 years.
This is the stuff psych students dream of, and it’s all here for the taking on tv waiting to be watched. The Millgram Experiment is the basis for the new studies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_Experiment. Also mentioned was the Stanford Prison Experiment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment.
Both Millgram and Zimbardo were condemned for experimenting on humans and exploding the stress factors in situations where the decision is up to the subject.
“All the is neccessary for evil to succeed is for regular people to do what they are told.” A frightening notion, but it couldn’t be more true.