Social approach and its studies

Three studies under the social approach in detail. 

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  • Created on: 09-03-13 20:13
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Social studies
Aim to investigate what level of obedience will be shown from the participants when they are told to
administer electric shocks to another person.
Participants 40 men from New Haven were recruited via poster and newspaper advertisements. They
were aged between 20-50years and were paid $4.50 to participate.
The participants were not told the real aim and procedure of the experiment. They were told that this
experiment was about learning and punishment. The participants (who were always the teacher) were
told that they should administer electric shocks to the confederate (who were always the learner). They
did not know that the confederate was acting as a learner in the other room which they deliver the
electric shocks to. The experiment was in the same room as the participants giving out prods when
participants hesitated to carry on. The participants were all given a 15volt electric shock to make them
believe that this experiment is real.
The electric shock generator went up in 15volts. It started at 15 and ended at 450 volts. During the
experiment the participants had to tell the confederate a word pair and the confederate would have to
give the correct pair that went with it. If they failed to give the correct answer then they were to be
administered an electric shock. These shocks were not actually administered to the confederates. This
was only to test the level of obedience of the participants.
The results and reactions were recorded by the researcher through a one-way mirror.
100% went all the way up to 300volts
65% went all the way up to 450volts
The participants were showing signs of tension. They hesitated whilst administering shocks. Some dug
their finger nails into their skin. Others bit their lips. Some were sweating and a participant had an
seizure at one point of the experiment.
During the post-experimental interview, participants were asked "how painful was the learner whom
you have administered shock to?" and the answered "very painful" which showed that they believed
the experiment was real.
Conclusion Milgram states that a high level of obedience is shown due to the following 3 out of the 15
1. The experiment took place in a prestigious setting; Yale University.
2. The prods given by the experimenter encouraged them to go on.
3. They were paid $4.50 so they felt as if they were obliged to continue.

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Social studies
Milgram was able to prove that the `Germans are different' hypothesis was untrue as the Americans
were also as obedient. He believes that it is the situation that people find themselves in rather than their
dispositions that best explains their action.
Reicher and Haslam
Aim to analyse the conditions that lead individuals to identify with their groups and the conditions that
lead individuals to accept or challenge intergroup inequalities.…read more

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Social studies
Prisoners were standardised.
Prisoners had their heads shaved and given uniform: t-shirt with a number, loose trousers and
Prisoners were given a list of prison rules and prisoner's rights.
Guards were also standardised.
Guards were told to run the institution smoothly as they were responsible.
Guards were told to draw up series of punishments for their prisoners.
Guards were given uniforms: shirt, trousers and tie-formal.…read more

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Social studies
o White victim
o Drunk victim
o Caned victim
o Early model
o Late model
o Bystanders/crowd size
Dependent variables (the observers noted):
o Time taken for the first passenger to help.
o Time taken for the first passenger to help after the model stepped in.
o Total number of passengers who helped.
o Gender, race and location of every passenger who helped.
o Standardised procedure; each victim always collapsed in the same way, every victim wore the
same clothes.…read more

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Social studies
Usefulness ­ advices to prisons, emergency services and training armed forces about
the dangers of following extreme orders.
Weaknesses Reductionist ­ underestimates individual differences (dispositional factors) and the
Unethical ­ No consent and psychological harm.…read more


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