Museum of Hoaxes
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Web Hoax Museum


#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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I find it interesting that in none of the comments about these psychological experiments does anyone point out that all of the people who participated were volunteers.

The group tested was not representative - they were all the kind of people who would volunteer to go do something weird for no reason other than that they were told to (and a little cash).

That's not to say that there aren't many subservient and/or sadistic people, just that these experiments don't say too much about just how many there are.
Posted by Bobby  on  Thu Sep 13, 2007  at  07:58 PM
This is conformism I suppose.
There was a series of experiments in USSR in which conformism was studied.
Some examples are:
1) 6 children are sitting around the table. Children from 1st to 5th are given tasty sweet food (cereal or smth like that) and are asked if the food is tasty. All answer, "Yes". The 6th child is given very salty food which looks the same. When asked if food was tasty & sweet the child answers, "yes". When asked if he would like some more, he answers, "No". Very rarely the last child would tell that food was salty & not tasty. This behaviour is called independent. And it's rare among children.
2) If we might expect that children are conformists, what about young people of about 20? The group of people were shown with set of pictures of different people. Most of the group except one person are the part of experiment. So these people tell that all the pictures are of the same person. Firstly the last person (who isn't the part of experiment group) seems not to agree. But after some time he agrees to the group. Even though some pictures are of women & some of men! After that all the group is presented with two piramides, one black and one white. They are asked in order what colours are those of piramides. All the group tells that they are both white. And the last man (that who isn't part of the experiment) agrees!!! After this man is being asked why did he agree and he tells that he was feeling like he is stupid and don't understand something.
Posted by jartur  on  Fri Sep 14, 2007  at  01:45 AM
I hate dogs, so I probably would have just kept whacking the button regardless of the dog did.
Posted by Prank Call of Cthulhu  on  Fri Sep 14, 2007  at  11:19 AM
I think its not really possible to draw any conclusions from this. You would have to have 26 poeple all with the same background and personality and then you would only proove things about the background/personality. I also think it is interesting to see how many people are quick to point out that the women are followers or that it was because of the time period and that results would be different now. It seems to me that it would take a more head strong leader type person to keep pressing the button. But the only way of really knowing anthing is to do this experiment on a large scale. You could do this experiment once a month and get different results every time just because you have different people.

And I take offense to the idea that women who go to church are more prone to mindless obediance then women who don't. This experiment simply doesn't involve that. Perhaps they would be more willing to obey the Bible, but it wasn't the Bible telling them to shock a puppy, now was it?
Posted by Peter  on  Fri Sep 14, 2007  at  11:55 AM
Which just goes to show that CHICKS HATE PUPPIES.
Posted by Dan  on  Tue Oct 02, 2007  at  02:30 PM
i'd hate hate to reduce the battle of the sexes down to 26 participants of any era. who were these ppl? how were they screened? the milgram experiment and spin-offs were originally inspired by the complicit behavior of normal germans in wwII.

if we are going to be incredibly reductionist, lets do the thing right,

here is the score:

women: 13 puppies, a few historically documented nazi-wife psychos mostly notable bc they were oddities

men: 7 puppies, the war crimes of nazi germany
Posted by emma  on  Mon Oct 15, 2007  at  10:43 PM
Yes but even being incredibly reductionist in the way you were only shows one thing. The women did absolutely nothing except cry over what was happening to the puppy even though they could have backed out any time. And women could have done something about what was happening to the Jews in Nazi Germany too, but they kept on being obedient to their husbands which enabled the men to commit the atrocities they did. Either way it proves that women, in that period, were very obedient even to the most insane requests.

Then again, as was said before, it is an extremely small group and shows no plausible evidence of anything.
Posted by Brad  on  Sat Oct 27, 2007  at  02:26 PM
Peter, there are far more terrible things perpetrated in the Bible by God and His followers than just torturing puppies.
Posted by Eric  on  Mon Oct 29, 2007  at  09:45 AM
"All thirteen women...obeyed right up until the end."

...the puppy was obiously male...
Posted by J  on  Tue Nov 06, 2007  at  07:38 AM
this is soooooo stupid and sad!!!!!!!!!!! i blame the people who were pushing the button. plus some women are dum and others are kind and caring for animals i hate people who kill animals for nothing!!
Posted by kaitlyn  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  01:24 PM
this is so sad and Stupid!!!!!!!!!!1 i blame the people who were pushing the button.....and who could ever have the heart to kill an inasent animal ya he may not have listened but they have to learn DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by melva  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  01:25 PM
The test was about obedience, not cruelty. The participants were obviously horrified at what they had to do (perspiring, hyperventilating, pacing, etc); they weren't being intentionally cruel in the least.
Posted by Kate  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  05:57 PM
i think i would be ok with all this useless experiments if they were rather conducted on useless people (i.e most of us) than on lesser animals. think it would be funny seeing people get totured and prodded as we do to other animals. human's are a blight on this planet
Posted by d  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  07:54 AM
this is so cruel,this is a MURDER!!!!
Do people have no guild!!!
We are one,yes the phole facking things on this planet are one and we must stik together,because this is only way of living
Posted by mari  on  Mon Dec 03, 2007  at  02:53 PM
oh that is so sad.
did the puppy/ies survive?
Posted by frankie.  on  Mon Feb 04, 2008  at  02:26 AM
This reminds me of a programme I saw a little while back where psycologists were studying human behaviour in carefully set up situations, for example there was a test that was based on a real situation.

After a shop cafe caught fire about 12 people were found dead, in fact they were still seated at the tables where they had been eating. The question being investigated on the programme was 'why had they remained in a place where they were clearly in danger?'

The test involved sitting a number of people in a room which would gradually fill with smoke, several of the people were actors aware that it was a test, the rest were given some other reason for being there.

After a while it appeared that the adjoining room was on fire. Although several left and others raised the alarm or tried to put out the fire, the psycologists were surprised at how many of the non actors remained seated looking around to see who was making the first move to leave, before slowly getting out of their seats. The people later admitted they were afraid to take the lead, in case they were seen to be foolish or presumptious.

As a result it was concluded that this was probably what had happened in the cafe. Even though they were in danger, some people were reluctant to make a move before anyone else, for fear of what others might think.
Posted by Helen  on  Fri Apr 04, 2008  at  07:34 PM
There is one decent reason to continue the experiment, altrough most of the people there probably didnt think of this.
How would they know for sure that the experiment wouldnt be repeated, thus extending the pain of the puppy, if they stopped?
that would be the reason why i would have continued, for there is bound to be someone, at some poijnt, who will continue to the end
Posted by Jeroen  on  Sat May 17, 2008  at  01:03 PM
bitches!!! 😉
Posted by roger  on  Thu Jun 05, 2008  at  08:59 PM
Note to Sakano in Ohio--I tried to do the same thing in High School--however the door was locked all the time. I even brought a friend to help me from another school. Our Biology teacher, who claimed to love animals bought in a Boa Constrictor to class for the semester and then weekly bought in live white mice to feed it in front of the class. Alot of the kids loved to see that. I was only 14 and horrified, however he didn't care.
I would do exactely what you said, as an adult now--break the door open and release the puppy. Oh by the way--I donate to the ALF, SHAC.
Posted by Barb  on  Mon Jun 30, 2008  at  08:55 AM
Barb posted:

"Our Biology teacher, who claimed to love animals bought in a Boa Constrictor to class for the semester and then weekly brought in live white mice to feed it in front of the class."

What was it supposed to eat? TOFU???

"I was only 14 and horrified, however he didn't care."

Why should he have? You were obviously really immature for your age. Furthermore the fact that
AFTER ALL THIS TIME you still don't understood that predators must kill to live means that you are intellectually backward as well. Being a smart guy, he probably picked up on that and didn't see you as someone worth wasting time on.

"Oh by the way--I donate to the ALF, SHAC"

What a surprise! People like you are why I can't take "animal liberation" seriously.
Posted by Nimadan  on  Mon Jun 30, 2008  at  11:57 PM
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