Imagine this scenario: you sign up to participate in a scientific study on memory and learning at a major university.
Your role is that of “Teacher,” and an “Experimenter” in a lab coat introduces you to your “Learner.”
You are then placed in front of an electric shock generator. Your Learner is seated in an adjacent room, where he is hooked up to electrodes. You can hear your Learner, but you cannot see him.
The Experimenter instructs you to provide your Learner with a series of word pairs. You are to test the Learner by naming a word and asking him to recall its partner/pair from a list of four possible choices.
If and when your Learner answers incorrectly, you are to administer a remote-controlled electric shock. The severity of the shocks increase with each subsequent wrong answer.