In what is arguably the most infamous psychological experiment in history, Stanley Milgram shocked the scientific community and beyond with his findings, which resonated far beyond the lab.
In a test of obedience, Milgram recorded how far participants were willing to go to deliver electric shocks to a test subject when they answered a question incorrectly. They were encouraged to do so by an experimenter. (The shocks weren’t actually real, but those delivering them were told they were.)
In one experiment, 26 out of 40 participants went up to administer the highest shock level – two steps beyond what was labelled “Danger: severe shock”. It gave a stark picture of how far people are willing to go to carry out commands, even when it might harm someone else.
This was 50 years ago.
Now, researchers from SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland replicated the study, and it didn’t go too well.
Spoiler alert: It's 50 years later we haven't changed.
A whopping 90 per cent of participants went up to the highest shock level, labelled 450 volts. This was even after they heard screams of pain from the “learner”.
The researchers say that, while the Milgram study couldn't be replicated exactly due to ethical limitations, the results were similar to what Milgram found 50 years ago.