Conformity AO3

  • Created by: Bear1910
  • Created on: 20-05-22 09:20

Milgram's study

Generalisability - research lacked population validity. Used a bias sample of 40 male volunteers which means results cannot be generalised to other populations e.g. females as they may behave in a different way

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Milgram's study

Application - explains why people involved with The Holocausts obeyed despite being asked to commit immoral acts

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Milgram's study

Validity - lacks ecological validity as obedience was tested in a lab, which is different to a real-life situation. Delivering electric shocks is an artifical task. Low mundane realism

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Milgram's study

Supporting research - Hofling (1966) rang 22 nurses claiming to be Dr Smith and asked nurse to supply a patient with 20mg of an unfamiliar drug, saying he would sign it off later. On the box, it said 10mg was the maximum dose. It was against hosital rules to giver over the recommended dose without a signed form. 21 out of 22 nurses obeyed

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Milgram's study

Ethics - criticised for breaking guidelines including deception, right to withdraw and protection from harm. Deceived participants by saying the experiment was on learning and punishment. It was difficult for participants to withdraw as they were prompted to continue. Many participants reported feeling stressed both during and after the experiment

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Milgram's variation studies

Supporting research for uniform - Bickman (1974) investigated the effect of uniforms worn by confederates on obedience. Confederates asked members of the public to either pay into a parking meter or pick up litter. Suit = 19%, milkman = 14%, guard uniform = 38%. This supports Milgram's concept that some uniforms are seen to have more legitimate authority than others. This was a field experiment so demand characteristics were less of an issue

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Milgram's variation studies

Demand characteristics - it can be argued that some studies are less likely to be seen as a legitimate study on learning, so they are more at risk of demand characteristics. E.g. the variation with the learner having their hand forced onto the plate would require good acting skills

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Agentic state + legitimacy of authority

Milgram's (1963) research demonstrates legitimacy of authority with experimenter occupying a high level in the social hierarchy due to education level. This also demonstrates the agentic state as often participants would only continue after the experimenter clarified that he was responsible. But 35% of participants still refused to go up to 450V. If the agentic state was true then all participants would have gone to 450V

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Agentic state + legitimacy of authority

Blass and Schimdt (2001) demonstrated the strength of the idea of legitimacy of authority. They showed people videos of Milgram's study and many people placed responsibility onto the experimenter

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Agentic state + legitimacy of authority

Application - the agentic state can be applied to cases such as the Nazis

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Authoritarian personality

Milgram and Elms (1966) interviewed participants who had taken part in the 4 Milgram studies. They found that those who had shocked to 450V scored higher on the F-scale, supporting Adorno's ideas. An issue with this is that this finding is correlational, and correlation does not mean causation. It may not be that people with an authoritarian personality are more likely to follow orders, other socioeconomic factors may influence this

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Authoritarian personality

Middendorp and Meleon (1990) found that less educated people are more likely to display characteristsics of the authoritarian personality than well educated people. It may be that it is not the authoritarian personality that leads to obedience but also level of education, which undermines the explanation

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Authoritarian personality

Altemeyer (1950's) constructed a new rating scale to measure the authoritarian personality, called the Right Wing Authoritarian scale (RWA). This fixed issues in the F-scale and showed a consistent correlation between high scores on the RWA and prejudice towards minority groups. This supports the concept of the authoritarian personality. However the authoritarian personality can be seen as a left wing theory politically, as it identifies people with conservative political viewpoints as having a psychological disorder

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Social support

In Asch's variation study, he tested unanimity. He found that if the confederate gives the right answer just before the participants turn then conformity drops to 5.5%. This stayed the same even if the confederate gave a different wrong answer to the rest of the group, as it provides the participant with the confidence to dissent too

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Social support

Allen and Levine (1971) showed the same effect in a similar study even if the non-conforming confederate had thick glasses and stated that he had difficulty seeing

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Locus of control

Holland (1967) replicated Milgram's study and assessed participants for an internal or external locus of control. 37% of those with an internal locus of control refused to continue to the highest shock level, compared to 23% of those with an external locus of control. This suggests that people with an internal locus of control are more able to resist pressure, and so increases the validity of the explanation

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Locus of control

The explanation is limited by the findings of Avtgis (1998). He used a meta-analysis to look at a range of studies investigating the link between locus of control and conformity rates. There was a correlation of +0.37 between those with an external locus of control and the rate of conformity. Although this supports the explanation to an extent, it should be recognised that the correlation is weak and so other factors may play a role

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Explanations of resistance (general)

26% of participants did not conform in a single critical trial of Asch's study. 35% of participants refused to obey experimenter and shock to 450V in Milgram's study. Most of the guards refused to confrom to the aggressive role in Zimbardo's study. This shows a significant proportion of people are able to resist social pressure even in intensely pressurising environments, increasing the validty of the fact that factors such as self-efficacy and morality have a role in obedience

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