Obedience: Milgram's research AO3

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  • Created on: 24-08-17 15:20
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  • Obedience: Milgram's research (1963) AO3
    • Limitation Milgram's study: lacked internal validity
      • Orne and Holland (1968): suggested participants guessed electric shocks were fake, so Milgram was not testing what he intended to test (obedience)
        • Sheridan and King (1972): participants gave real shocks to puppy, 54% of males and 100% females delivered what they thought was fatal shock
          • Milgram's follow up questionnaire found that 70% of participants believed that the shocks were genuine
    • Strength: good external validity
      • Milgram argued that the lab-based relationship between experimenter and participant reflected wider real-life authority relationships
        • Hofling (1966): only 1 nurse of 22 disobeyed doctor's unjustified demand for a higher than recommended dosage of medicine to a patient
          • Similar studies conducted in real-life settings have found similar results to Milgram's study
    • Replications have supported Milgram's research findings
      • French documentary: contestants in reality TV game show paid to give (fake) electric shocks when ordered by presenter, to other participants (actors)
        • 80% gave maximum 450 volts to the confederate who appeared to be unconscious. The participants showed anxiety similar to Milgram's participants
          • Supports Milgram's original conclusions about obedience and authority, showing how his findings were not just a one-off
    • Social identity theory (SIT) alternate explanation to Milgram's
      • Obedience is about group identification. Milgram's participants identified with experimenter, when obedience levels fell, participant identified more with victim
        • Haslam and Reicher (2012): first three 'prods' appeals to help with science. Only 4th prod demands obedience - every time this was used, participant quit
          • Participants did not give shocks due to obedience, but due to identification with experimenter as scientist
    • Ethical issues
      • Baumrid (1964): criticised Milgram's deceptions. Participant believed the roles were randomly assigned, not fixed
        • Most significant deception was participant believed electric shocks were real. Baumrind objected as deception is betrayal of trust that damages reputation of psychologists and their research
          • If a study contravenes the BPS guidelines (deception), then the study is unlikely to be effectively replicated, which may effect validity


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