- Explanations for obedience
- Obedience is a form of social influence in which an individual follows a direct order. The person issuing the order is usually a figure of authority, who has the power to punish when obedient behaviour is not for coming. When people are given orders by someone, usually and people do as they are requested. This is a much more direct kind of social influence; people are actually told how to behave. People can either choose to obey or defy the order.
- Milgram want to see whether ordinary people would follow the orders of an unjust authority figure. He wanted to test the hypothesis that the Germans who followed Nazi orders were different: he hypothesised that anyone would have followed the orders in the same situation.
- He used 40 male participants by advertising for volunteers from a newspaper. Offered them $4.50 to take part in a study on “punishment and learning” at yale uni.
- There were three roles in the experiment. The experimenter played by a confederate, the teacher would test the learner and administer punishments played by the real P and the learner who would receive punishments if they got questions wrong- played by a confederate
- P`s were then told they had to ask questions to the learner and if the learner answered incorrectly the teacher had to give them an electric shock that would increase in voltage (starting at 15v going in 15V incensements to 450v) so that the teacher realised what they would be “doing” to the learner, they were given a test electric shock
- The learner sat in another room and gave mainly incorrect answers. The learner remained silent until 300v. at this point he didn’t respond but pounded the wall. He did this at 315v and after that he said/did nothing. If the teacher refused to continue the experimenter had some verbal “prods” that he used to try to get the teacher to carry on. These included “it’s absolutely essential that you continue”, “please continue” and “you have no other choice then to continue.”
- 65% of the teachers went to the full 450v shock (labelled xxx) 100% of the teachers went to the 300V shock 5 out of the 40 (12.5%) stopped at 300v shock when the learner first objected 14 out of the 40 p`s showed nervous laughing fits All p`s showed evidence of shaking, sweating and stuttering
- Evaluation (AO3)
- Hofling studied nurses who worked in hospitals. Hofling rang the nurses pretending to be doctor and asked them to give double dose of a drug “astrofen”. If they did this, they would be breaking several rules- giving twice the stated dose, taking orders over the phone and not having consent forms signed by the Dr. he found that 21/22 nurses obeyed Hofling and gave the drug. Therefore, research in natural settings shows that people will obey legitimate authority figures. This supports Milgram’s findings and therefore Milgram’s research is more reliable.
could have guessed the aim
- Orne and Holland suggests that as the experimenter was cold and distant and showed no compassion for the screams of the learner, the p`s must have worked out that the situation was fake this is why they administered the shock; they knew they were not actually harming the P. this would have been supported by the fact that electric shocks are not are not believable punishment for getting questions wrong. Therefore, we cannot be sure that the IV (authority figure) is the thing that has affected the DV (obedience) as it is possible that P`s guessed the aim and demand characteristics is the thing that caused their “obedience”. Therefore, Milgram`s research may actually lack internal validity.
- This is because the research was conducted in a controlled artificial lab conditions. This means that the EV`s could be controlled and therefore he was able to identify that the IV was the thing that affected the DV rather than other EV`s having an effect. Therefore Milgrams research has internal validity.
- Baumrind criticises Milgram saying that P`s were under a great deal of stress and harm as they thought they were hurting another person. This evidence of this is that P`s were seen shaking and stuttering. Therefore, P`s were not protected from harm. However, Milgram carried out a full debrief and a year later a psychiatric assessment showed no long lasting damage was done. P`s were deceived they thought that the shocks were real and that they had fairly drawn the role of the teacher and that the other P`s were real P`s. this is unethical to lie to P`s in psychological research as it may cause them to suffer embarrassment and stress. However, Milgram defended his use of deception as he argued this was the only way to get p`s to behave realistically otherwise the results could not be generalised to real- life situations. Whilst p`s were given the right to withdraw at the start it was made very difficult, because p`s were given verbal prods to continue. P`s were not reminded of their right when they got carried away in the study. When p`s asked to leave, they were told to continue. This could harm them psychologically. However, Milgram argued that p`s did have the right to withdraw and did so as 35% refused to carry on. In order to deal with these, Milgram did debrief his p1s after the study and told them exactly what he had found. He also offered them counselling. Therefore, Milgram did attempt to deal with these ethical issues. Therefore, Milgram’s research is unethical and consequently would not be allowed to be conducted today.
- Other research supports
- Situational variations
- In Milgram’s original study, the teacher and the learner were in adjoining rooms, so the teacher could hear the learner but could not see him. In the proximity variation, they were in the same room. In this condition, the obedience rate dropped from the baseline 65% to 40%. In an even more dramatic variation- the teacher forced the learners hand on to a “electroshock” plate when h refused to answer a question- obedience dropped to 30% in this condition. In the third proximity variation, the experimenter left the room and gave instructions to the teacher by telephone. This reduce the obedience further to 20.5%- participants pretended to give shocks or gave weaker shocks than they were told to.
- In another variation, Milgram changed the location of the obedience study – he conducted a variation of the study in a run-down building rather than the prestigious university setting (Yale uni). The experimenter had less authority and obedience levels fell to 47.5%- this is still a high level of obedience but lower than the original study (65%).
- In the original study the experimenter wore a white lab coat as a symbol of his authority. Milgram carried out a variation were the experimenter was called away because of an inconvenient telephone call right at the start of the procedure. The role of the experimenter was taken over by an “ordinary member of the public” who wore everyday clothes rather than a lab coat. The obedience rate dropped to 20% the lowest o these variations.
- Evaluation (AO3)
- Other studies have demonstrated the influence of these situational variables on obedience. In a field experiment in New York City, Bickman (1974) had three confederate dress in three different outfits – jacket and tie, a milkman’s outfit and a security guards outfit. The confederates stood on the corner of the street and asked passers-by to perform tasks such as picking up litter of giving the confederate a coin for the parking meter. People were twice as likely to obey the assistant dressed as a security guard than the one dressed in a jacket and a tie. Therefore, this supports Milgram’s conclusion that a uniform conveys the authority of its wearer and its situational factor likely to produce obedience.
of internal validity
- Orne and Hollands criticism of Milgram’s original study was that many of the participants worked out that the procedure was faked. Participants in Milgram’s variations realised this because of extra manipulation. A good example of this is the variation where the experimenter was replaced by “an ordinary member of the public”. Even Milgram recognised that this situation was so contrived that some p`s may have worked out the truth. Therefore, this is a limitation of all Milgram’s studies because it is unclear whether the results are genuinely due to the operation of obedience or because the participants saw through the deception and acted accordingly.
- A general strength of Milgram’s research that applies to his variations is that his findings have been replicated in other cultures. The findings of cross-cultural research have been generally supportive of Milgram. E.g. Miranda found an obedience rate of over 90% amongst Spanish students. This suggest that Milgram`s conclusions about obedience are not limited to American males, but are valid across cultures. However, Smith and Bond (1998) make the crucial point that most replications have taken place in western, developed countries. These are culturally not that different from the USA, so it would be premature to conclude that Milgram’s findings about proximity, location and uniform apply to people everywhere.
an obedience albi
- Mandel argues that this explanation is dangerous and offensive as it offers an excuse for evil behaviour. In his view, it is offensive to the holocaust to suggest that Nazis were simply obeying orders and were victims themselves of situational factors beyond their control. We must therefore be careful when applying the explanation to obedience as it is somewhat limited. It ignores dispositional factors such as personality that can explain why people do evil things.
- Research to support
- Explanations for obedience