The Museum of Hoaxes
HOME   |   UPDATES BY EMAIL   |   PINTEREST   |   FACEBOOK   |   TWITTER   |   RSS

About the Mad Science Museum

A collection of strange and curious science miscellanea brought to you by the author of Elephants on Acid and Electrified Sheep
Elephants on Acid
Electrified Sheep






Shock the Puppy!
When Stanley Milgram published the results of his obedience experiment in 1963, it sent shockwaves through the scientific community. Other researchers found it hard to believe that people could be so easily manipulated, and they searched for any mistakes Milgram might have made. Charles Sheridan and Richard King theorized that perhaps Milgram's subjects had merely played along with the experiment because they realized the victim was faking his cries of pain. To test this possibility, Sheridan and King decided to repeat Milgram's experiment, introducing one significant difference. Instead of using an actor, they would use an actual victim who would really get shocked. Obviously they couldn't use a human for this purpose, so they used the next best thing — a cute, fluffy puppy.

Sheridan and King told their subjects — volunteers from an undergraduate psychology course — that the puppy was being trained to distinguish between a flickering and a steady light. It had to stand either to the right or the left depending on the cue from the light. If the animal failed to stand in the correct place, the subjects had to press a switch to shock it. As in the Milgram experiment, the shock level increased 15 volts for every wrong answer. But unlike the Milgram experiment, the puppy really was getting zapped.

As the voltage increased, the puppy first barked, then jumped up and down, and finally started howling with pain. The volunteers were horrified. They paced back and forth, hyperventilated, and gestured with their hands to show the puppy where to stand. Many openly wept. Yet the majority of them, twenty out of twenty-six, kept pushing the shock button right up to the maximum voltage.

Intriguingly, the six students who refused to go on were all men. All thirteen women who participated in the experiment obeyed right up until the end.
References
  • Sheridan, C.L., & R.G. King (1972). "Obedience to Authority with an Authentic Victim." Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association 80: 165-166.
Posted By: alex | Date: Sun Jul 24, 2011
Category: Animals, Cats & Dogs, Psychology, Aggression, Conformity & Obedience, 1950-1979, United States,
Some other topics you might find interesting:
Comments
There are no comments yet for this post.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.