Imagine you've volunteered to take part in an experiment on the study of memory with Professor Stanley Milgram at Yale University. When you arrive at the laboratory suite, you are met by a sternfaced researcher dressed in a grey lab coat. The other person you meet is a likable, mild-mannered, middle-age accountant.
The researcher explains the experiment is about how punishment affects learning. After drawing lots, you end up playing the part of the teacher; the accountant will play the learner. The accountant is given a long list of pairs of words to memorize.
You then go into a neighboring room. The learner is strapped into an “electric chair” type of construction. An electrode is attached to the learner's wrist. Electrode paste is also applied to “avoid blisters and burns.” The researcher tells you the electrode connects to a shock generator unit located in an adjacent room.
By now, you're feeling nervous. You go into the room with the shock generator. It has thirty lever switches, each marked between 15 and 450 volts. The switches are grouped under the labels Slight
Persuasion Trigger Four: Authority