SOCIAL - Milgram's (1963) study into obedience

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  • Milgram's (1963) study into obedience
    • Obedience
      • complying with the demands of an authority figure
    • The study
      • PROCEDURE: 40 male volunteers with normal jobs, told it was exper for punishment and learning, drew rigged straws for 'teacher' and 'learner' (PP always got teacher). Confed: 40 yr old man, mild-mannered, mentioned he had heart probs in past. Learner tested on word lists.
      • THE MACHINE: teacher had to shock learner if he was wrong, PP got small shock to they believed it was real, shock ranged from 15V (slight) to 450V (***). Teacher told to increase shock by 15V for every wrong answer
      • PROMPTS: experimenter used prompt every time the teacher objected: 'please continue' -> 'the experiment requires you to continue' -> 'it is absolutely essential that you continue' -> 'you have no choice, you must go on'
      • RESULTS: psychiatrist estimated less than 1% to go to 450V. College students guessed 9/30 shocks would be delivered) Everyone went to at least 300V, 65% went to 450V. Suggests obedience is human nature, and people will go forward with orders that go against conscience when put in certain situations
    • Variations
      • VENUE: run down building, decreased, 47.5% people to give 450V as it reduced validity of experiment
      • TEACHER AND LEARNER IN SAME ROOM: decreased, 40%, can see the outcome of actions
      • TEACHER PAIRED WITH ASSISTANT THAT PULLED SWITCHES: increase, 92.8%, autonomous state
      • TEACHER HAD TO PUT LEARNERS HAND ON SHOCK PLATE: decrease, 30%
      • RESEARCHER GAVE INSTRUCTIONS OVER TELEPHONE: decrease, 20.5%
      • TEACHER ACCOMPANIED BY 2 CONFEDS WHO REFUSED TO CONTINUE: decrease, 10%
    • Evaluation
      • ETHICS: deception, lacked fully informed consent, psychological harm and stress (guilt), PPs should always have right to withdraw - experimenter didn't allow it, weren't told they could withdraw
      • BURGER (2009) - ethical Milgram study - found 70% obedience rate (67% in M), highest volt= 150, 15V chock given to PP (45V in M), 70 male and female (male in M) told 3 times they could withdraw, obed rate was no different between males and females
      • ORNE & HOLLAND (1968) - PPs didn't really believe they were giving real shocks; just going along with it to please experimenter - DEMAND CHARACTERISTICS
      • ANDROCENTRISM - study only done with males
      • CULTURE BIAS: not generalisable to other cultures apart from America
      • HISTORICAL VALIDITY - American culture very authoritarian at that time - doesn't reflect today
      • ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY - unrepresentative of real-life situations
    • PPs response
      • PPs showed extreme stress, sweating, trembling, biting lips, fingernails, some protested and wanted to stop
      • One PP that gave 450V said: 'good God, he's dead. Well let's finish him!'
      • Although participating and being obedient, they verbally protested
      • Debriefing, PPs said they were glad they took part because they learned something about themselves
    • Defending his method
      • 84% of PPs glad they took part
      • 74% of PPs said they learnt something about themselves
      • only 1.3% of PPs reported something negative
      • psychiatrists interviewed 40 PPs and found no long term damage
      • PPs debriefed after experiment - true nature of study made aware to them
      • had the experiment showed low obed levels, wouldn't be as much controversy
      • not his intention to scare PPs - not sufficient stress levels and didn't think they would go that far

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