T1W5 WS Milgram and Stanford Experiments


Hwa Chong Institution

Integrated Programme/SMTP

Year Three SES

Name: _________________________________ ( )

Date: ____________ Team number: _______

Class: _________

Term 1 Week 5 WS: Milgram and Stanford Experiments


Please type up the notes and thoughts you have on the following topics, as well as the research you have done. Cite your sources and print and attach these notes to the worksheet.

You may be asked to present some of these in class.


We have discussed how in social sciences, models may not always predict human behavior accurately. Many times, we get results that we do not expect. Sometimes, human behavior that we think is “common sense” or that “everyone should have” may not be all that common at all. Some experiments have challenged how we think about ourselves. One such classic experiment is the Milgram experiment on obedience, first conducted in 1961.

The experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T), the subject of the experiment, to give what the latter believes are painful electric shocks to a learner (L), who is actually an actor. The subject believes that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the learner set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level.


(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment )

After watching the video in class, write down in teams your thoughts on this experiment. What is assumed of people before the experiment? How does the experiment demonstrate otherwise? What real world events can you relate this to?


Another classic experiment is the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971.

This is to study the psychological effects of being a guard and prisoner in jail.

In your teams, start doing more research on this by reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

After watching the video in class, what are your feelings or thoughts on this experiment? What does the experiment show that you might not have thought about before they ran the experiment? If you were a prisoner in this experiment, how would you be like? What about if you were a guard? Discuss different perspectives of team mates.

What do you think was problematic with the research methods? What about ethics? Is it safe to conduct this experiment, since there was no physical violence allowed on humans? How does this experiment relate to real world situations? How do you think this experiment could be conducted better?


Read about some experiments that are considered highly unethical: http://listverse.com/2008/09/07/top-10-unethical-psychological-experiments/

Read about these well-known social experiments: http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/11/10-piercing-insights-into-human-nature.php