Milgram's Study of Destructive Obedience

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  • Milgram's Study of Destructive Obedience
    • Aim
      • To investigate the tendency for destructive obedience
      • More specifically, to see how large an electric shock p's were willing to give a helpless man when ordered to do so in his own lab
    • Method
      • Design: lab experiment
        • The DV was the obedience of the participant
        • Obedience was operationalised as the maximum voltage given in response to the orders
      • Participants
        • Forty men aged 20-50. 37.5% were manual labourers, 40% were white collar workers and 22.5% of workers were professionals
        • Self selecting sample, Ad in a local news paper. offered payment of $4.00
      • Procedure
        • Upon arrival at Yale Uni, each P was introduced to the actor and briefed on the 'purpose' of the experiment.
          • They were told the purpose was to investigate the effect of punishment on learing
        • Then drew slips of paper to allocate the learner and the teacher, was fixed so that the actor was the learner.
        • each time the 'learner' got a question wrong, the experimenter ordered the P to give a shock.
          • If they protested, they were given a series of verbal prods.
        • each P was considered to have completed the experiment when they either refused to give any more shocks, or reached the max volatage.
        • after completion p's were interviewed and fully debriefed, so that they understood the true purpose of the experiment.
    • Results
      • both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered.
      • 100% of P's gave at least 300V or more
      • 65% gave the full 450V
        • psych students estimated only 1.2% would
      • Qual. data was gathered in the form of comments, protests and body language.
        • most p's showed physical signs of tension e.g sweating, groaning, biting lips & stuttering
      • Most participants protested but verbal prods were sufficient in most cases to get them to continue.
    • Conclusions
      • The majority of people are quite willing to obey destructive commands
      • People find the experience of receiving and obeying destructive commands to be highly stressful
      • results supported the situational hypothesis rather than the dispotional hypothesis
      • Explaining the high levels of obedience
        • 1. The study was carried out in a respectable environment
        • 2. Aim of the study appears to be worthwhile
        • 3.& 4.  The learner or teacher volunteered so they have an obligation to the experimenter
        • 5. features of the design e.g payment, increase this sense of obligation
        • 6. teacher was equally as likely to be the learner (in their view)
        • 7. right to withdraw is not obvious
        • 8. p's were ensured the shocks weren't dangerous
        • learner had appeared to be comfortable with the procedure for the first 300V


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