In Milgram's original obedience to authority study in 1963 he wanted to set up a situation in which single individuals were ordered to act against a stranger in an inhumane way and to see at what point they would refuse to obey the order. Milgram had noted the reports of extreme obedience carried out during the WW2 and wondered to what extent ordinary decent people could do extraordinary things.
Milgram advertised for male volunteers by placing an advert in a local paper, which offered $4.50 as payment for taking part in a study of 'punishment and learning'. 40 respondents from a range of occupations and backgrounds were selected and individual appointments were made to attend the laboratory at Yale University. When they arrived, they were greeted by the 'experimenter', a 31-year-old teacher in a white coat, and introduced to a middle-aged man whom they believed to be another participant, Mr Wallace, in reality a confederate of the experimenter. The experimenter explained to both men that one participant was to be the teacher and the other the learner, then they drew lots to allocate roles. These were rigged so that the real participant was always the teacher. Both teacher and learner were taken to a room, which contained a shock generator including slight shock (15 - 60V), moderate shock (75 - 120V), strong shock (135 - 180V), intense shock (255 - 300V), danger of severe shock (375 - 420V) and finally *** (425 - 500V).
The experimenter explained to the 'teacher' that it was his job to teach the 'learner' a series of word pairs and then test their recall. The learner was to indicate, by means of a switch, which words had originally been paired. If he answered correctly they would proceed to the next pair but if he made an error, the teacher was instructed to administer an electric shock starting at 15V and increasing by one increment each time. Both teacher and learner were taken to an adjacent…