Facebook Pixel

Would You Flip That Switch?

By July 1, 2008 - 8:08am
Rate This

This takes me back to college and my Psych 101 days. More than 50 years after the fact, many psychologists, philosophers and the like are still debating the tests of Stanley Milgram.

In a series of about 20 experiments, hundreds of decent, well-intentioned people agreed to deliver what appeared to be increasingly painful electric shocks to another person, as part of what they thought was a learning experiment. The “learner” was in fact an actor, usually seated out of sight in an adjacent room, pretending to be zapped.

The participants usually began with what they thought were 15-volt shocks, and worked upward in 15-volt increments, as the experimenter instructed. At 75 volts, the “learner” in the next room began grunting in apparent pain. At 150 volts he cried out: “Stop, let me out! I don’t want to do this anymore.” (Source: New York Times)

Naturally, I always wonder how I would react in this situation ... Would I agree to the experiments to begin with? At what point would I stop? Would I stop?

What do you think? Could you continue inflicting pain on another person if a person in authority urged you to do so?

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Reading this post made me think of Nazi Germany and all the people who tortured and killed others because those who were in power told them to. That's a case in point on this topic, and such a sad statement on humanity that authority would override our basic compassion towards other human beings.

I personally tend to rebel against authority, (actually I'm trying to work on this because it can get me in really big trouble) :) so I'd like to think that I wouldn't shock another person. Like Alysia, I'd probably turn against the authority figure and shock the heck out of them instead.


July 1, 2008 - 10:25pm

My mom jokes that I have an "electric" personality because I attract static electricity from just about anything metal that I touch. Because the shocks are so painful, I have a little "test" touch that I use prior to opening doors at the store, the car door, etc. I may look like the character Adrian Monk doing so, but it saves being hit by a jolt that will often stop me in my tracks - not a good thing.

My treatments for TMJ some years ago included low level electric pulses sent into my jaw muscles to relax them. I think I was actually more tense during the treatment because I anticipated pain.

So, there is no way that I would wish an intended electric shock upon anyone. I'd rather shock that person of authority to see how he'd react.

July 1, 2008 - 6:03pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.