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Last updated: 18 march, 2010 - 11:33 GMT

'Game of Death' French TV show sparks controversy

A TV grab taken from state-owned France 2 channel on 16 March 2010 showing an actor pretending to be electrocuted on 'The Game of Death'

A French TV programme has tried to demonstrate how well-meaning people can be manipulated into becoming torturers or even executioners.

The controversial 'Le Jeu de la Mort', or Game of Death, showed 80 people taking part in what they thought was a game show pilot.

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As it was only a trial, they were told they wouldn't win anything, but they were given a nominal €40 fee.

Before the show, they signed contracts agreeing to inflict electric shocks on other contestants.

One by one, they were put in a studio resembling the sets of popular game shows.

The BBC's David Chazan watched the programme in Paris.

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The programme is a modern take on an experiment carried out in the 1960s American social scientist Stanley Milgram.

He set out to determine whether it was a normal part of human nature to obediently obey orders to perform the kind of inhuman acts that Nazis did in Hitler's Germany.

Thomas Blass is a professor of psychology at Maryland University in Baltimore and has written a biography of Stanley Milgram, "The Man Who Shocked the World".

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First broadcast 17 March 2010

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