Social Approach: The Key Issue

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  • Social Approach: Key Issue
    • Blind obedience to authority in a prison setting
      • More specifically: Abu Ghraib where the US military dehumanised Iraqi prisoners
        • Soldiers argued that they were taking orders from authority to "break the prisoners down for interrogation"
    • Supports soldiers plead: Blind Obedience
      • Milgram's Agency Theory
        • Soldiers will have acted in an agentic state, obeying orders from authority who will take responsibility for their actions and consequences
          • Learned aspect supports the idea that soldiers are allocated jobs on a hierarchical system. Disciplined to take orders
        • 1 soldier (Joe Darby) did not engage in the mistreatment by making the private photos of the abuse public.
          • There was room for autonomous action even in high-pressure setting of a prison during war
        • Very little evidence that there were direct orders to mistreat the prisoners in this way
      • Milgram's 1963 study of obedience
        • 100% of participants obeyed orders from a scientist and gave harmful shocks to others for answering word pairs incorrectly
        • 65% of those participants continued to 450V electric shocks even after being unsure whether the learner was even alive
      • Milgram's variation of the study of obedience
        • When obedient allies were involved in procedure the obedience increased to 72.5% of participants obeying to give the 450v shock
          • Explains why there was only Joe Darby who acted on free will - other soldiers influenced by their allies to continue taking orders
      • Hofling et al (1966)
        • More ecologically valid results to support as this is a field experiment of nurses in a hospital setting
        • Whilst 21/21 student nurses and 10/12 graduate nurses claimed they would not take orders over the phone from an unfamiliar Dr...
          • 21/22 nurses obeyed orders from a Dr Smith and gave patients a placebo of 20mg which exceeded the daily dosage
            • 11 of those nurses claimed they did not see the dosage discrepancy
      • Meeus and Raaijmaker (1986)
        • Taking orders to give psychological harm
        • 92% of participants obeyed orders to give verbal insults
        • Not the same type of abuse as Abu Ghraib but supports the idea of humans acting in the agentic state, behaving in a way which they know to be wrong
          • Participants reported they "intensely disliked" giving stress remarks
    • Goes against soldiers plead: Prejudice and Discrimination
      • Tajfel's Social Identity Theory (1970)
        • Social Categorisation: Soldiers aware that them and the Iraqi's were of different groups
        • Social Identification: Soldiers possessed in-group characteristics such as being of the same nationality, wearing the same police uniform, etc
        • Social Comparison: As a result of being distinctive groups the soldiers boosted their in-group identity by abusing the out-group (Iraqi prisoners
      • Supported by Tajfel's 1971 study
        • Schoolboys allocated into one of two groups in a fake art task and asked to allocate a point to other boys
          • Boys typically awarded more points to members of their in-group - in-group favouritism
            • In a war situation where the out-group is a known enemy this effect would be magnified and the behaviour towards out-group would be much worse
      • Sherif et al Robber's Cave (1961)
        • Based on realistic conflict theory - applies more to Abu Ghraib setting
        • When competition and common goals in an in-group was introduced, participants showed intense dislike towards out-group
          • 93% of boys said their best-friend was in their in-group in in-group relations friction stage
          • Observers noted boys getting close to physical violence


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