Milgram's Obedience study notes (Core studies)

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  • Created on: 14-05-15 10:33
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Kat McManus
Background: Milgram was interested in OBEDIENCE. He, like other psychologists
wondered how atrocities like the Holocaust (Nazi WW2) had even happened.
**To investigate whether ps would show obedience to an authority figure
who told them to administer electric shocks to another person.
To investigate the process of obedience, to demonstrate the POWER of a
legitimate authority even when the command requires
destructive behaviour.
Research method: Lab, observation
IV: None
DV: Obedience (in terms of how many volts they administered)
Sampling Technique: Volunteer (gathered from a newspaper article)
40 males
Between age 20<50 years
Range of occupations and backgrounds/middle class, mainly white
From New Haven, USA
2 rooms at Yale University
1. Contained a legitimate looking electricshock generator (had a row of
switches from 15V > 450V, going up in increments of 15V, The shocks had
descriptions ranging from slight shock to XXX).
2. Contained a chair with restraining straps where the learner was to receive
the shocks via their wrist. It had a tape recording of standardised responses
that were played in the same order for each ps.
Experimenter (confederate) 31 yr old, 'stern' Biology teacher, wore a grey
lab tech coat.
Learner (confederate) 47 yr old, accountant, appeared mildmannered and
The ps was told a cover story that the study was the effects of punishment
on learning.
The ps was always the teacher.
The ps saw the learner get taken to another room, strapped in a chair and
their wrists attached to the equipment that would deliver the shocks.
The experimenter said that: 'although the shocks may be extremely painful,
they caused no permanent tissue damage' as the learner said they had a
mild heart condition.
The teacher and experimenter returned to the previous room. The teacher
sat in front of the shock generator.
The teacher was informed the learner had to learn word pairs, like 'nice

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Kat McManus
The teacher was given a 'test shock' to add to the authenticity of the study
and to make the teacher believe te learner was really being given shocks.
The teacher had to read out the 1st word of the word pair and 4 possible
words (1 was the word pair). The learner would indicate their answer y
pressing 1 of 4 switches in front of them, which lit up the corresponding light
on the shock generator.…read more

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Kat McManus
Obedience levels were surprisingly high as it was predicted that they would
be low.
Extreme signs of tension were surprising a it was expected that the ps
would stop as their conscience dictated.
Milgram concludes that obedience can be brought out in anyone under the
right situational conditions (situation has the power to override a persons
conscience and what is thought to be moral in the name of obedience).…read more

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Kat McManus
= No qual data about the reasons why the ps was/wasn't obedient.
= Qual data on descriptions of ps behaviour hard to compare .
+ = Standardised procedure (all ps went through the same thing, e.g same prods
by the experimenter)
+ = Quant data easy to compare data if study was repeated
+ = Everything seemed real the 45V shock, the generator, so the ps would have
acted truthfully.…read more

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Kat McManus
they need some bread but cant afford it. They would tell their child to steal some
bread from the shop. The shop would have been informed about the study, gave
permission for it to take place and paid in advance for the bread that would be
taken. If they stole the bread without Q, they would be considered obedient. If they
stole the bread with reluctance they were semi obedient.…read more


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