Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist at Yale University, conducted a test to see how greatly people obeyed authority figures (Milgram 283). He experimented with many different kinds of people - psychiatrists, college sophomores, middle-class adults, graduate students, and faculty in the behavioral sciences (Milgram 286). Milgram brought about his experiment from his obsession of the Nazi war trials (Milgram 283). He was intrigued by the Nazi's ability to follow orders and kill many millions of Jews in the process (Milgram 283). The experiment was to reveal the willingness of common people to follow orders while causing extreme pain to another person.
The experiment consisted of two people - a "learner" and a "teacher" - in which the learner had to memorize word pairs, and if the learner forgot the word's pair, they were shocked with increasing levels of electricity by the teacher (Milgram 284). The levels of intensity ranged from 15 to 450 volts (Milgram 284). Each time the "learner" would incorrectly answer a question, they would get shocked and shout in agony, and the "teacher" would submissively resume the experiment under the experimenter's request (Milgram 285-286). The excruciating experiments showed that 60 percent of college sophomores and 85 percent of middle-class adults obeyed the experimenter and administered the full 450 volts to the learner (Milgram 287). The experiment proved the willingness to obey an authoritative figure.
The results of the experiment are astonishing. Obedience, for many people, is a deeply ingrained behavior tendency. Obedience is a potent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct (Milgram 283). Being an evil agent, obedience controls us into conducting acts of which we would never imagine doing, but obedience is also an important factor in out day-to-day lives. We obey at the workplace, while driving, and even at home.