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  • Obedience
    • Milgram
      • Aim: investigate whether Americans would obey and unjust order from an authority figure to inflict pain on a learner. Test the influence of situational factors
      • Method/procedure: Genuine participant always 'teacher.' Confederate always learner, memorising word pairs.
        • Teacher give an electric shock every time learner gave incorrect answer.
          • Began at 15V, increased by 15V until reaching 450V. Teacher encouraged using standardised prompts.
            • No clear manipulation of the IV, so it is a controlled observation.
      • Sample: 40 male volunteers from 20-50 years old. Paid $4.50
      • Results and findings:All participants went to at least 300V. 65% went to 450V max. Many participants were distressed but followed prompts.
      • Conclusion: Due to situational factors, people obey unjust orders. When holding a subordinate position of power, empathy can be lost. Atrocities can be explained by situational factors rather than dispositional factors.
    • Variations of Milgram
      • venue of rundown offices- obedience fell to 47.5%
      • Confederate threw switches for the teacher- obedience levels highest at 92.5%
      • Experimenter instructed by telephone in separate room- obedience fell to 20.5%
      • Two other teachers did not obey- obedience fell to 10%
      • Teacher and learner in same room- obedience fell to 40%
      • Teacher was made to force the learner's hand on plate- obedience fell to 30%
      • Learner agreed to participate if they could withdraw- obedience fell to 40%
    • Explanations of obedience and evaluation
      • Legitimate authority figure- Milgram variation to run down offices.
      • Gradual commitment- increasing the voltage slowly
      • Contractual obligation- paid
      • Buffers- not having to see victim suffering
      • Personality factors- authoritarian personality is submissive to those in power.
      • Agentic shift, moving from autonomy to the agentic level where responsibility is abdicated
    • supporting small studies
      • Hofling et al. Obedient nurses giving twice the max dose of an unknown drug. 21/22 obedience rate. Rank and Jacobson- Valium used, 2/18 obeyed.
      • Bickman- uniforms, milkman, guard and civilian. ecological validty but sample bias.


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