Section C Milgram Example Answer

Questions a b and c on the specimen paper.

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Section C ­ Social Approach a/b/c
17 (a) Outline one assumption of the social approach in psychology. [2]
One assumption of the social approach, is that our behaviour: the way we think, feel or behave as
individuals comes as a result of our interactions with others in society. For example, the ideas of conformity
and obedience are studied and the way in which the implied presence of others affects our behaviour. This
approach supports the situational explanation that our behaviour is dependent on situations we are faced
with, not necessarily the individuals we are.
(b) Describe how the social approach could explain obedience. [4]
Obedience could be explained as behaviour which comes as a result of the presence of an authority figure.
It supports a situational explanation that we obey when we feel we are committed to do so if we are told so
by authority figures. It suggests that any individual can obey orders to harm others, and that the situation a
person is in has the power to override morality and conscience ­ it can be brought to any individual with the
appropriate conditions as seen in the Milgram study where 65% of participants were made to believe yet still
continued to administer electrical shock to a stranger with the knowledge that person would be facing harm.
(c) Describe one similarity and one difference between the Milgram study and any other social
approach study. [6]
One similarity between Milgram's study and Piliavin, Rodin, and Piliavin's study is that both made use of
observational techniques within their research. For example, in Milgram's study, a controlled observation
was adopted. In this case the experimenter was present in the room where the participant was during their
administration of false electric shocks as they took on the role of `teacher' in what they believed was an
experiment about the effects of punishment and learning. The experimenter was in the room observing the
participant and if questioned by the participant would reply in a series of prods such as "Please continue" or
"You have no other choice, you must go on". In Piliavin's study, the two female confederates that were part
of a team of four also observed but in an unobtrusive manner, taking note of data such as spontaneous
comments made by passengers on trains and the race, sex and location of helpers.
One difference between Milgram's study and Piliavin's study is the type of sample obtained. In Piliavin's
study, those participating were unaware of their participation in the study so that demand characteristics
would not affect results. They consisted of 4450 men and women that were present on the New York
subway between April and June, 11am to 3pm on the A and D trains of 8th Avenue. In Milgram's study
however, the sample was self selected and obtained by adverts in newspapers and direct mailings. The
study included 40 males aged 2050 from the New Haven area in the United States. Participants were told
they would be paid $4.50 for their time.

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