A French TV show has replicated a 1960s experiment that demonstrates just how sinful we really are:
Eighty people who thought they were participating in the shooting of a pilot for a French reality series were willing to deliver potentially lethal electric shocks to a contestant who had incorrectly answered knowledge questions, according to the documentary, “The Game of Death,” airing on French TV on Wednesday night.
“Zone Xtreme” seemed to have a pretty standard game-show format, complete with wildly enthusiastic studio audience, a glam well-known TV weatherwoman hostess, gaudy lighting, etc., said the French press reports.
In truth, the would-be reality series participants were part of an experiment that was turned into the documentary.
In “Zone Xtreme,” the faux contestants who gave all the wrong answers were actually actors. Each “contestant” was strapped into an electric chair. The 80 wannabe famesters were each asked to punish the contestant, when a wrong answer was given, by administering up to 460 volts of electricity. The majority of them ignored the contestant’s screams and obeyed the orders of the weather-chick hostess to ratchet up the jolt. They also obeyed the chant of “Punishment!” from the studio audience — which did not know the game show was a fake — until the contestant fell silent and appeared to have died. Only 16 contestants walked away, according to press reports.
The idea for the show came from the work of psychologist Stanley Milgram, who conducted the experiment at Yale University in the 1960s. Milgram found that most people, if pushed by an authority figure, would administer ostensibly dangerous electric shocks to another person.