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Success and Leadership

Milgram’s Experiment And Its Findings

What does separate us from other people? Are we really that far from getting in touch with other members of our society? As society evolves, relationships become more and more complicated. While we have access to the entire world through technology, we are not so close to each other after all. Milgram came to shake the waters of the scientific community with his outbreaking idea to create an experiment.

This experiment aimed to see what it takes to reach someone we do not know through others. When we say ”what it takes,” we mean how many people will have to be informed to help us pass our message and get in touch. For instance, if you want to get in touch with a successful scientist with that, you have absolutely no personal connection. How will you approach them?

The first experimental attempt

The experiment took place more than 70 years ago, and a few hundred people were called to send a message to a businessman in Boston. The people who participated in the experiment used to live in Nebraska, which is quite far from Boston. Of course, sending a letter directly to the businessman’s address was not allowed because the experiment’s purpose would be neglected. To make the long story short, after some calculations, they concluded that it only takes six people to reach someone. 

Each person sent the letter to someone they knew personally and asked them to send it to the businessman. The person who received this order would address someone else to help them pass the letter. This occurred a few times until it was evident that the letter would change the hands of approximately six people before it reached its destination.

In other words, your friend is one degree away from you, your friend’s friend is two degrees, and so on. All people are related to each other by abstaining on average of “six degrees of separation.” Scientists, researchers, and artists found the phenomenon charming. John Guare, a writer of theatrical plays, included this concept in his play named ”Six Degrees” proving that the results were somewhat unexpected by the majority of the population living in the United States.

The accuracy of the experiment

Well, many people, including researchers, were not quite convinced, so in 2002, three skeptical personalities decided to give the idea another shot. Duncan Watts, Peter Dodds, and Roby Muhamad expanded the experiment using 98.000 people from the United States. This time, the internet was used.

People would have to send an email to strangers around the world who had absolutely no connection with them. People from Australia, Esthonia, Europe, and the United States were supposed to receive an email from these strangers. The places were wisely picked so that no one would be able to claim that there was any connection that could be used to reach the email its final destination. This second experiment only confirmed what Milgram had established in his original experiment.

The conclusion of the experiments

Initially, the experiments talk about ordinary people that will have to meditate in order to reach a person. This does not suggest that all the cases are the same. At the same time, it is comforting to know that, more or less, you will not need more than six people to help you to get in touch with someone you are eager to communicate with. The fact that the results of the experiment were confirmed 40 years after the initial attempt of Milgram to charm the scientific community does not leave any room for further doubts, even for the most suspicious minds of the academic community. We do not know what inspired Milgram to conduct this bizarre experiment in the first place.

Still, we indeed are surprised by its findings and expect that similar unique mechanisms are functioning throughout our society without us even realizing it. In any case, the experiment worked as a source of inspiration to examine the level of influence we have on other people, and we are grateful Milgram decided to make it work.


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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Success and Leadership - Milgram’s Experiment And Its Findings
Anna Siampani
Anna Siampani, Lifestyle Editorial Director at the CEOWORLD magazine, working with reporters covering the luxury travel, high-end fashion, hospitality, and lifestyle industries. As lifestyle editorial director, Anna oversees CEOWORLD magazine's daily digital editorial operations, editing and writing features, essays, news, and other content, in addition to editing the magazine's cover stories, astrology pages, and more. You can reach Anna by mail at