Shocking Study Reveals How Anyone Can Become Evil


The year is 1942, and across Europe various
German concentration camps have been established. Most of these are slave labor facilities,
where Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded, and various other undesirables are
forced to work on behalf of the Reich. A few though have a much darker, more sinister
purpose. These don’t have factories, mines or quarries
to be worked, and in fact only exist for one purpose: mass murder on an industrial scale. No different than cattle to the slaughter,
over six million people are herded into gas chambers and killed, the guards overseeing
one of the worst crimes against humanity in history, simply going about their job like
it was a regular nine to five. But why did tens of thousands of German guards
just idly obey commands to help kill millions of people? Hello and welcome to another episode of The
Infographics Show- today we’re taking a look at the infamous Stanley Milgram psychological
study that proved people were perfectly willing to obey orders and shock others to death. When World War II ended many former Nazis
found themselves dragged up before international tribunals to answer for their heinous war
crimes. Time and again the men and women on trial
offered a single excuse: I was just following orders. They didn’t deny knowledge of what their actions
were helping facilitate, and they didn’t sugarcoat what they did- they simply excused their part
in one of the greatest genocides in history by simply saying, I was told to. The former Allies weren’t buying any of this
blind obedience, and many Nazis found themselves imprisoned or hung on the gallows for their
crimes. But in 1961 a psychologist named Stanley Milgram
grew curious about just how much a role obedience had in the execution of these heinous crimes. After all, no matter the racial prejudice
it was extremely unlikely that any one of the men and women involved would have personally
murdered a concentration camp prisoner. If this were true then our streets would every
day be running in rivers of blood, and yet society continues to function relatively well,
and rather than minorities being executed, they see their social and legal status continually
improved in liberal democracies around the world. Why this paradox then? Why were these thousands of Nazis perfectly
normal and law-abiding citizens before the war, but then turned into mass murderers during
the war? Could simple obedience really be the difference
between genocide and peaceful cohabitation? To help answer this question Milgram developed
an experiment at Yale University and put out an advertisement in the local newspaper asking
for male participants. Each participant would be paired with another
person- secretly an accomplice of Milgram’s that was pretending to be just another normal
participant. The real participant would take on the role
of teacher, and the accomplice would take on the role of learner, although to mask the
deception lots were drawn to determine roles. Naturally the draw was always fixed to ensure
the accomplice was the learner. In all the experiment drew in forty males
aged between twenty and fifty, and who’s jobs ranged from unskilled to professional. The wide variety of test subjects would prove
vital in determining if there was a difference in age or profession as far as obedience to
authority was concerned. As the experiment began, the learner would
be taken to a separate room and have electrodes strapped to their body, with a thin wall separating
the accomplice learner from the teacher who was seated directly on the other side of it. The learner was then given a list of word
pairs to learn, and the teacher was asked to test the learner by naming a word and asking
the learner to recall its partner from a list of four choices. The learner, as an accomplice, purposefully
picked the wrong word most of the time, which prompted the experimenter to deliver an electric
shock every time that the learner made a mistake. Each time that a shock was delivered though,
the voltage was increased so that the next shock would be more painful. The punishment shocks began at 15 volts- or
a particularly strong static shock- to 450 volts- a voltage lethal enough to kill if
its path were to cross the heart. As the experiment continued, the learner would
keep giving wrong answers, and the teacher was prompted to deliver a fresh shock. On the other side of a wall from the learner,
all the teacher heard was the shouts of pain from the learner, and as the shocks grew in
intensity the learner would begin to plead to please not be shocked again, or to be let
go from the experiment. The worse the shocks got, the more pleading
and begging, and the louder the screams of pain became. When the teacher started balking at delivering
another shock, they would be given exactly four prods to continue the experiment, the
first being: Please continue. If the teacher still refused, then they would
be told: the experiment requires you to continue. If that was still not enough, then they would
be told: it is absolutely essential that you continue. Finally, if that didn’t work then they would
be told: you have no other choice but to continue. After the fourth prodding if the teacher refused
to keep going then they would not be asked again and the experiment would end. Each response was carefully crafted to slowly
increase the level of authority projected onto the participant, until at last making
that authority absolute. It’s important to note that the participants
were not restrained or under any legal obligation to continue the experiment, and could have
quit at any time. The results of the experiment were shocking-
pun fully intended. Of the forty individuals who took part, a
full two thirds of them continued the experiment to the highest power level- 450 volts. This is despite the learner on the other side
of the wall begging for the experiment to stop, crying and sobbing, and screaming in
agony. The other third refused to continue the experiment,
though they all made it at least three fourths of the way through, hitting at minimum 300
volts. Milgram’s experiment discovered something
truly terrifying about humanity. As he said himself, “Stark authority was
pitted against the participant’s strongest moral imperatives against hurting others,
and, with the participant’s ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won
more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to
almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study
and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.” Milgram would go on to explain the behavior
exhibited in his experiment, and at Nazi death camps across Europe, by suggesting that every
day people have two distinct states of behavior when in social situations. The autonomous state is where people direct
their own actions and take responsibility for those actions. The agentic state is when people allow others
to direct their actions, and then pass off the consequences of those actions to the person
giving the orders. They are happy to act as agents of the other’s
will, but don’t believe that they themselves bear the responsibility for the consequences. Known as the Agent Theory, Milgram suggested
that in order for a person to enter the agentic state two things must be in place: the person
giving the orders must be perceived as being qualified to direct other people’s behavior. In other words, the person giving orders must
be a valid form of authority, and the person being ordered must be able to believe that
the authority giving the orders will end up accepting responsibility for what happens. The second point was brought to light as the
experiment progressed to higher and higher shocks. Here, some participants were told that they
had responsibility for their own actions- meaning that any harm they were doing to the
other individual, and the consequence of that harm, would be on their own heads. These individuals showed the highest rate
of refusal to continue the experiment, with very few continuing to obey. Others were told that the responsibility for
any harm being done to the other individual would fall directly on the organizers of the
experiment, and of these participants they showed the highest willingness to continue
obeying. Some who balked at continuing even changed
their mind and went on after being told they wouldn’t be responsible for what happened. Milgram would go on to conduct the experiment
again in 18 studies with a variety of different factors in each. In one experiment the experimenter- or the
individual ordering the electric shocks- would wear a gray lab coat, a symbol of authority
and kind of uniform. Then the experimenter would be called out
of the room because of a phone call right as the experiment began, and he would be replaced
by another individual dressed as an ordinary member of the public. In this experiment obedience level dropped
from over 65% to just 20%. In another variation, Milgram changed the
location of the experiment to a set of run down offices instead of the very impressive
and prestigious Yale University. Here, despite the experiment remaining exactly
the same as in Yale, obedience dropped to 47.5%. This suggested that the environment, or the
status of the location also affects obedience- leading credence to the theory that authority
is perceived more than it is learned. In a third variation the participants could
tell an assistant, who was also in on the experiment, to do the shocking for them, rather
than doing it themselves. Incredibly this changed obedience rate to
a whopping 92.5%, proving that as there’s less personal responsibility, obedience to
authority- even if immoral- increases exponentially. In a fourth variation the participant had
to physically force the learner’s hand down onto a shock plate once the learner began
to refuse to take part after reaching 150 volts. Not surprisingly this plummeted obedience
to just 30%, proving that when the participant was not buffered or protected from seeing
the consequence of their actions, many would not choose to continue obeying. In a fifth variation the participant was joined
by two other teachers- who were also in on the experiment. One of the fake teachers would refuse to participate
at 150 volts, and the second would choose to stop at 210 volts. When the real participant saw others disobeying
an authority figure, obedience dropped to just 10%. In a sixth variation the experimenter was
not physically in the room with the participant, and instead relayed his instructions via telephone. When the experimenter instructed the participant
to deliver an electric shock but the participant was not physically in the room with the authority
figure, obedience rate fell to 20.5%. Interestingly, when not directly observed,
many of the participants actually cheated and purposefully missed giving electric shocks
or gave far less voltage than they had been ordered to. This proves that proximity to an authority
figure affects obedience. While Milgram’s study revealed a shocking
disposition to obey authority, even when immoral, there was hefty criticism aimed at it by other
psychologists. One set of criticism alleged that the participants
may not have fully believed the experimental set-up, and did not believe the learner was
actually receiving electric shocks. There are also problems with the sample group
used, as all of the participants were male, which begs the question if females would act
differently. Future studies involving females would disprove
the notion that there is any major difference in obedience to authority between men and
women. However another critical flaw in the study
is that the entire sample population was self-selected- or in other words they had volunteered themselves
for the study. This may point to them having more of a ‘volunteer
personality’ which might directly affect how they react to authority figures overseeing
their behavior in a study that they themselves wanted to be a part of. The Milgram study has been plagued with controversy
almost since its inception, yet seeing the pattern of genocide and mass atrocities committed
by both soldiers and every day men and women across history, there can’t be any denying
the underlying finding: we humans are disturbingly prone to obeying even immoral authority, as
long as we can plausibly shift the blame from ourselves to an authority figure. It’s ok if you round up all the Jews in your
city and march them to a concentration camp, because in truth it’s not really you doing
it, but the system that you’re just a small part of. Even the guilt of mass murder can be easily
discarded, or rather shifted from the self to those giving the orders. Perhaps then the legal defense offered by
thousands of Nazis that they were just following orders should have been a valid one after
all, and we can’t help but wonder just how much of a push do we ourselves need to turn
from law-abiding citizen, to a facilitator of mass murder? Would you have obeyed orders to shock an innocent
person? Why or why not? Also. make sure you check out our other video, would
you survive the stanford prison experiment! And as always if you enjoyed this video don’t
forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe- because we told you to! Do it!

Comments 100

  • Have you found yourself in an Agentic state? Who was the authority figure at that moment?

  • Why is the quality so low

  • Am I the only one that subscribed because he told so??

  • U witness my true powers

  • 6 million jew 10 million gypsy's and
    millions of others.

  • He didn’t mention that they were getting paid and wouldn’t receive the money if they stopped.

  • That didn't really answer the question on how anyone can become evil it was more about Authority and people doing what they're told

  • "When you dance with the devil the devil doesn't change, you do"
    — Unknown

  • Some people clicked F12 and F10
    And they hacked a camputer

  • it's Easy to Go to the Dark Side.

  • couple shocks cause it's funny (where as I wouldn't mind receiving them myself), past that where it actually hurts I'd take issue with

  • 889,999 views
    , #900,000 comment on this

  • When you realize what happened to your future self

  • This proves people are sheep

  • It’s not shocking at all. By statistical chance – if you were born in German in 1920, chances are that you WILL commit war crimes. I know every loves to think they will be the hero that saves all the Jewish people by hiding them – but by the numbers you will fit into the side that doesn’t treat them so well.

  • Lol if I was the teacher, I'd go for the highest voltage because I can't see if there's actually a learner since there's a wall in between, I would assume that for an experiment, they can't put actual people there to be shocked…

  • Imagine still believing in gas chambers in 2019 and taking yourself seriously as a channel

  • The Joker approves this video

  • Who knows? The world is a war machine!

  • People are sheep. Anyone displaying a mild degree of strength the masses will follow. Learn from Friedrich Nietzsche

  • this is about following orders not about doing evil deeds of your own decision. Attitude is a big factor. if attitude towards a select group is bad then poeple will do what they feel like.

  • I first heard of this experiment in the documentary about Enron: 'The Smartest Guys in the Room'

  • insubordination to authority in the camps was punished by death. participants in the study could stop whenever they wanted to.

  • I may have something wrong with me but I would of shocked the other person even if it wasn't part of a experiment. I laugh at other's pain, as long as they won't suffer from long term physical consequences (an example would be cutting off a finger) and don't die. I don't know what causes it and, quite frankly, don't care.

  • Well america once killed a quarter million civilians in 2 days… did they take responsibility for that?

  • talk about Vietnam and ethnic cleansing

  • The shock experiment you can actually find on youtube

  • am allready evil because of my lack of emotions , no empathy

  • hey gypsy is a slur pls be more mindful

  • As soon as he said that, i reached for the like button…

  • Not anyone can be evil, but the majority of people are already born evil, and certain conditions simply bring their true nature out. Some people are certainly incorruptible.

  • Whats even more disturbing, and something I didnt see included in this video, is that the learner even expressed that he had a heart condition prior to the start of the experiment. He would then complain about his heart during certain shock levels and then would fall silent, leaving the participants to believe they may have killed the man. This experiment ended up scarring a lot of people who felt extremely uneasy even after they were told nobody was hurt. This is one of the experiments that shaped regulations on psychological studies.

  • They HAVE to follow orders. Its the military, either you follow the orders or you die

  • Clearly I can only guess what I would or wouldn't do. In the heat of the moment, everyone acts differently than what they imagined they would.
    But I feel like the authority figure influences so much. Even in a simple non-dangerous work situation; you are likely to follow orders for fear of being fired. The risk you put on yourself probably outweighs the risk you put on others.

  • I’d love to think that I would stop the experiment, but it seems that I wouldn’t, just based on statistics. Everyone wants to THINK they’d be the hero but in the end, the vast majority of us are just kidding ourselves. It’s really not something you can know unless you’ve been in that scenario yourself.

  • The nazis at those death camps would have followed orders in fear that if they didn't obey their orders they themselves and maybe their families would be harmed or even executed, if this was the case where those soldiers really guilty of crimes against humanity? Sure there where obviously some who actually loved their work and did it to play out their own sick and twisted ways, those I feel are guilty.

  • Same thing that Many SOLDiers _WILL do to citizens all across the world __WHEN Told to.

  • the comment section is 14 year old type of edgy

  • Look at all these cringe kids with their movie quotes

  • phoney study, I've heard the participants pretend cries of pain and they sound totally fake

  • Lol I'd light the fella on the other side up if I'm not gonna take the fall, this evil what a joke

  • I wasn't in a concentration camp but I also went to a socialist ran camp with those people it was called community collage hey oh!!!!! Anyone

  • Well, apparently 41% of the population are obligers, meaning that they listen to outside expectations and struggle to meet internal expectations), so…

    Also, footage of the teachers shows that many of them actually thought they had killed a guy.

  • The biggest critic against this experiment ist though the way Milgram dind't care for its subjects after the experiment. Even leaving some them with symptoms of PTSD after the experiment. That ignited a discussion about the ethic responsibility of the experimenters in such situations. I really think that should've been mentioned. The set of rules that came from that discussion (and the commissions that oversee them) is the most (in my opinion) useful thing we get from that experiment since it is now an integral part of experimental psychology today. Things like debriefing didn't exist before that

  • They all played video games.

  • 8:24 am I the only one bugged by the fact that the clock’s arms aren’t moving?

  • Can you do a show about gypsies

  • Wait i seen these before

  • What about Israeli soldiers slaughtering Palestinians?

  • All they need to do is to get a little bit of push

  • What about Israel 🇮🇱 killing Palestinians 🇯🇴

  • The participants who continued have no morality no conscience, they could be psychopaths because they lack empathy, did they wondered "Would i like it if we switched sides?"

  • Imagine if they said zap the guy or you will be shot

  • This explains why some suspicious religious groups aactivities can be run smoothly by some inspirational person

  • 👹 Might Satan be lurking at your Chamber Door? 👹

  • I'll make a controversial point; I believe this is why most societies in the world go along w/ the horrible treatment of livestock animals. They may not be human but they are as conscious and capable of feeling pain as the dogs and cats we love but authority and tradition says 'Don't worry, this is okay', so people feel fine about pigs been kept confined in horrible conditions or at the least ignore it and then further that chickens for example are put in to electric water tanks and often on failing to be stunned have their throats slit while conscious. These are atrocities but most of the world goes along with it because authority, conformity and tradition insists repeatedly that it's okay even when in truth there is immense suffering in the livestock industry especially nowadays.

  • And now i see why we don’t test on humans. Anyone would go coo coo and torture everyone in the name of “science” now i see.

  • the u.s. put japanese americans in camps.

  • Nah, it is the video game that makes people become Evil.

  • Since I’m not in the situation I can’t tell exactly what I would do but I’m pretty stubborn, I don’t view authority figures much higher than non authority figures, and I often feel guilty about things that I couldn’t have stopped or that weren’t my fault. I think with those things combined I would stop after some begging from the one being shocked.

  • Every single person is capable of slaughter, just takes a second of not caring about the consequence

  • People died but the gas chambers are a hoax.

  • Obito joined the chat

  • What's with the hair tumours?

  • The study you mention is highly flawed. Think about it, would a subject actually believe that his professors were actually killing someone in a university study? Or that the other individual just stood there and took it? I seriously doubt that the participants actually believed they were torturing someone. The wall alone, with no way to observe the "victim" would have been a major giveaway.

  • I have quit much better jobs for much less. Soon as I no longer agree…..I quit.

  • 2:45 Stamford Prison Experiment. It is amazing how fast people can assume roles allocated. Amazing how quickly people can adapt, conform, become accustomed and so on… Amazing how little time it takes for the primeval predetory carnivore comes out in any human being. Violence pacifies humans. The system for doling out the doses of violence is always a work in progress. Trite but true.

  • Anyone see the experimenter??

  • this is why we must raise our consciousness, And know who we are, we should also try to remember that 1 persons injustice is all of our injustice.

  • People really are like cattle

  • listening to James o Brian from lbc show

  • You dont need a dumb study if you have enough brain cells to realize the potential of human beings.

  • "Insanity is like gravity, all it takes is just one small push!"

  • You know what this could also explain? Peer pressure.

  • Yeah.. the term mentally retarted is really not ok…

  • The church did not teach even the basics, of love others, not working ill – evil to others.

  • Thanks for sharing a lot of data that Milgram collected, and discussing the criticisms of the study.

    I remember learning about this in college, thinking that I'd figure out that it was all fake, and then deliberately pretending to be a sadistic nut, laughing cartoonishly while pressing the button.

  • Not my fault and I might be dead if I don't obey

  • So that's why there were always two soldiers in one of those nuclear missile silos. ..

  • Really the reason I would not do it is if someone was giving orders

  • hmm today i will follow orders ;;;))))

  • All of the participants were informed that this was an experiment. They could have all assumed that they were in a controlled environment, and hence any "harm" they were doing was intended and had already been calculated to be safe, very much unlike a concentration camp. I am convinced that they would have reacted differently if it was a real situation.

  • So if marshal law was in place would the military really go against its own family.

  • Umm!
    Trump has dialed up the crazy in those already mentally fragile.
    Hence current day mass shootings by a growing number of American's.

    Roving gangs of inner city youths are behaving as crazed wild BEAST!

    This destroys your point about current society.

  • so what is yours answer for genocide? btw if u don't agree with this study, your answer is a genocide…

  • did any of the accomplices die as the volts got lethal

  • this reminds me of the US Army,

  • How does war work ? , the two countries just meet up and fight ? And what happens to country that wins and what happens to the country that loses .

  • Anyone who says the soldiers had no choice is actually dumb. This was never stated anywhere and during those court terrains no one said they were forced to. The reason behind them shocking them has to do more with psychology. The person followed the order because they thought they had to because of a authority figure. (Like a parent to a son) they obey the order because they think they have to. It’s not forced upon

  • but why people from western cultures don't ask same questions abut russian comunists? They killed much more and still admire those killers!!!

  • What kind of lunatic puts a roller coaster in a work camp anyway

  • Simple answer : do what the government or religious leaders say you you will be brutally executed for treason.

  • I probably wouldn't have shocked anyone after they expressed pain. It's not that I'm benevolent but rather because I have the bad habit of doing whatever I want.

  • How about follow those orders or you will be charged with treason and the next person will be you.

  • why do you have the german guards holding an M1 Garand?

  • 😴 – Grand Moff Tarkin

  • "I'm not a bad person, just had bad luck" – the Sandman

  • No because they are innocent

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