Museum of Hoaxes
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#19: Shock the Puppy
When Stanley Milgram published the results of his obedience experiment in 1963, it sent shockwaves through the scientific community. Other researchers found it hard to believe that people could be so easily manipulated, and they searched for any mistakes Milgram might have made. Charles Sheridan and Richard King theorized that perhaps Milgram's subjects had merely played along with the experiment because they realized the victim was faking his cries of pain. To test this possibility, Sheridan and King decided to repeat Milgram's experiment, introducing one significant difference. Instead of using an actor, they would use an actual victim who would really get shocked. Obviously they couldn't use a human for this purpose, so they used the next best thing — a cute, fluffy puppy.

Sheridan and King told their subjects — volunteers from an undergraduate psychology course — that the puppy was being trained to distinguish between a flickering and a steady light. It had to stand either to the right or the left depending on the cue from the light. If the animal failed to stand in the correct place, the subjects had to press a switch to shock it. As in the Milgram experiment, the shock level increased 15 volts for every wrong answer. But unlike the Milgram experiment, the puppy really was getting zapped.

As the voltage increased, the puppy first barked, then jumped up and down, and finally started howling with pain. The volunteers were horrified. They paced back and forth, hyperventilated, and gestured with their hands to show the puppy where to stand. Many openly wept. Yet the majority of them, twenty out of twenty-six, kept pushing the shock button right up to the maximum voltage.

Intriguingly, the six students who refused to go on were all men. All thirteen women who participated in the experiment obeyed right up until the end.

Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
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What's with torturing dogs?!
Posted by Jackie  on  Wed Aug 29, 2007  at  03:26 PM
i bet the research assistant was a woman and the men were hoping it was experiment #18
Posted by michael  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  12:54 AM
No. This is good evidence. An experiment that proves that people=shit.
Posted by Anus Moses  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  01:13 AM
This is just sad.
Posted by MSG  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  01:56 AM
This experiment proves that people are STUPID.

Here's a tip: If someone requests that you do something, and you are so disturbed by what you're doing that it brings you to tears, and there is no actual benefit to the act (for example your life is not on the line), then DON'T DO IT!
Posted by Rem  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  08:35 AM
Its is a clear example of diminished responsibility/conformism...
A well know aspect of human psychology, in no way does it imply that people = sh*t.

It is an attempt to replicate the 2'nd in this list and indeed, in the past there really has been a lot of terrible experiments done on cute fluffy little dogs :(

Posted by Jvr  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  11:07 AM
Once again, women < Men.
Posted by Johnny  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  12:59 PM
Women are heartless.

And I would've much preferred to see this happen to cats than dogs.
Posted by Jeff  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  06:41 PM
in the era in which the experiment took place, women were probably more subservient in society and the home than they are today, and therefor more likely to obey the command. i suspect that result as well as the main result would be different if the experiment were repated today, or in various different societies.
Posted by kilgoretrout  on  Thu Aug 30, 2007  at  07:32 PM
I think the reason six men refused to go along with this but continued with the Milgram experiment is that it's easier to be cruel to a fellow human being than it is to a puppy. Just look at the outrage from Michael Vick compared to Ray Lewis.
Posted by Dr. Gonzo  on  Fri Aug 31, 2007  at  12:04 AM
to kligoretrout:
women have always been and be the same, no matter how developed a society is. they'll do what they are told to do (with some exceptions, of course), always. you just have to find the right way to tell them what to do, and there you have it 😊. if you're a woman, just go back in your memories...
Posted by Jey  on  Fri Aug 31, 2007  at  04:29 AM
It didn't state the specific date of this experiment here but I found myself easily chalking up the women's behviours to their generation. My opinion is however, that women have been trained so long to be obedient and indeed the vast majority of them at least in the USA that attend church regularly and are brainwashed into being zeros (I mean whereelse in American culture is okay to be a zero? Americans, according at least to Patton love winners) seem proud of antifeminism and to be submissive that they'll go to great length even today to prove their obedience/submission. On the other extreme they might have, when doing the test done it to prove they could be even more in control of their emotions than a man. Like polls one must be suspicious of participants in such experiments. I doubt most of them women and men chose were say, from Berkely, Greenwich Village or San Francisco. WHat were their backgrounds? Why I never trust results of polls or these kinds of experiments.
Posted by Gordianknot  on  Fri Aug 31, 2007  at  12:42 PM
You can talk all you want, sickos. The statistics say that if you didn't know about this experiment, you would do it. There, I said it.
Posted by HijoDePuta  on  Fri Aug 31, 2007  at  04:41 PM
I'm pretty sure I would have never agreed to this experiment, even shocking the puppy once. In fact, I would be the sort to unhook the puppy from the electrodes and steal it.

I've done it before. In high school, our science teacher had bought live rats that she was going to do an experiment on the next day. So I waited until she had lunch duty and I snuck in and stole them. I did get caught and I got in trouble (detention for two weeks), but I wouldn't give up the rats no matter how much they yelled at me to give them back. I figured saving their lives was more important than any punishment they would give me. The teacher cancelled the experiment and didn't buy more rats. I kept them as pets and they lived with me for a long time.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Sat Sep 01, 2007  at  09:51 AM
Anyone who thinks that American women were once subservient has bought into the myths of brain-dead feminist ideology. Read De Tocqueville.

I think that some people are confusing "subservience" with other behaviors like modesty or good manners or non-slutiness.
Posted by expat  on  Sat Sep 01, 2007  at  08:11 PM
It's amazing how willing people are to excuse female behavior. If the stats had been reversed, there would be no apologists for the males.

Maybe society has psychologically conditioned people to ignore deviant female behavior and attribute parenting skills to them that do not exist?
Posted by Grubbs  on  Mon Sep 03, 2007  at  07:42 AM
guys all this proves is that we as a people have been conditioned to listen to doctors aussming that they are rigth about everything.
Posted by spidrpnk  on  Tue Sep 11, 2007  at  09:20 PM
Geez, people, do you guys understand how science works at all? This was THIRTEEN WOMEN. You cannot draw absolute conclusions about What Women Are Like from a sample that small. You can find thirteen people who'll be willing to do pretty much anything. The results are interesting and all, but they don't really tell us anything unless we can repeat the experiment with a larger group of subjects.
Posted by Greg  on  Thu Sep 13, 2007  at  01:53 PM
Quote-"Intriguingly, the six students who refused to go on were all men. All thirteen women who participated in the experiment obeyed right up until the end."

This isn't surprising when you realize that the experiment was done in 1963 at a time when most, if not all, women were brought up to be agreeable to men, especially men in powerful positions.

I'd like to see someone replicate the experiment today. I doubt as many people (male or female) would agree to shock a puppy right up to the highest voltage.

People do not respect authority as much these days and I guess in some ways, that is a very good thing.
Posted by Sue  on  Thu Sep 13, 2007  at  03:36 PM
So in our local science museum there's a little pathway with a mirror at the end. The floor leading up to the mirror is a black and white checkered tile. The sign at the beginning says "approach the mirror, stepping on only black tiles."

So I did it, expecting some really cool insightful thing at the end about some sort of optical illusion, or an unexpected perceptual effect. At the end though, above the mirror, was basically a little sign that pointed out that if I'd stepped on only the black tiles, I was a total conformist and would do whatever anybody told me to and isn't that interesting that people do whatever they're told.

Man, I wasn't looking to conform -- I just didn't want to spoil the cool optical illusion I was expecting.
Posted by Cera  on  Thu Sep 13, 2007  at  04:33 PM
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