Milgram's Obedience Experiment

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  • Milgram's Obedience Experiment
    • 'The Germans are different'
      • this is a flase hypothesis people believed until Milgram tried to prove it
      • was thought to be the cause of the holocaust
      • Milgram's study was to see if people in the 60's would behave like the Nazi's did 20 years earlier in WW2
      • was a pilot study as he thought Americans wouldn't torture others
        • he would give the test to check it worked + then tested Germans to prove they were different
      • Findings: Average Americans would follow orders like the Nazis did to show that Germans were not different
    • Aim
      • to research how far people would obey instructions when it involved harming another person
    • Procedure
      • 3 individuals
        • the experimenter
        • the subject / teacher
        • the learner
      • involved 40 ppts over a series of conditions
      • ppts told it was a study of how punishment affects learning
      • 2 experiment confederates: an experimenter and a 'leaner' who was thought to be a volunteer.
        • teacher + learner drew straws but this was rigged
      • in one room was the teacher with an electric shock machine. in the other room was the learner who would receive the shock
      • teacher had to test the learner with their ability to remember word pairs
      • every time the learner answered wrong, the teacher would have to give an electric shock from 15 volts to 450 volts
      • the learner gave mostly wrong answers on purpose
      • the electric shocks were fake and a CD played fake screams
      • if the teacher asked to stop, the experimenter would say a series of prods, e.g "Please continue", "The experiment requires you to continue"
      • electricity monitor had clear descriptions of the pain
      • ppts told learner had a heart condition
    • Findings
      • 65% continued to 450 volts
      • 100% continued to 300 volts
      • before, Milgram asked how long ppts would go before refusing to continue. 1/1000 would go to 450 volts
        • believed you had to be sadistic to go the whole way
      • obedience levels same for American females too
    • Conclusions
      • they only continued due to a man in a white lab who said he was in charge but didn't even have an ID.
      • people can follow orders given by authority to the extent of killing someone
    • Evaluation
      • Good points
        • led to increased ethics
        • 1st proper obedience study
        • people only complained due to unpleasant results
        • debriefed ppts - those who obeyed reassured they weren't evil or had unusual behaviour
        • proved equality - Germans not different
        • proved psychologists wrong
        • good to make people sceptical
      • Unethical
        • knowing you're capable and willing to murder
        • deceived ppts as they were told it was a study of memory so couldn't conform properly
        • difficult for ppts to freely leave due to prompts
        • distress of knowing you're capable of acting like the Nazi's did
        • physical pain as stress caused rashes
      • Invalid
        • not ecologically valid - you don't give people electric shocks in everyday life
        • experimenter acted calm throughout even when learner screamed - made the teacher doubt reality?
      • Reliability questionable
        • YES = study repeated many times (Milgram 18 different versions) showing similar results + conclusions
        • NO = all male volunteers originally
        • NO = converting people to evil?


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