Core Studies - Social Approach

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Social - Milgram (1963)

Background: Milgram was fascinated by Nazi Germany and wanted to understand how the Holocaust happened. Proposing the hypothesis that 'Germans are different', suggesting they have a basic character defect causing them to blindly obey authority figures.

Aim: To investigate what level of obedience would be shown when participants were told by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another person.

Method: Controlled observation with 40 males aged 20-50. Self-selected via a newspaper advert (offering $4 for one hour) asking for 500 New Haven men to take part in a study of the effects of punishment on learning.

Procedure: Participants tested individually and always given the role of 'teacher' through a fixed lottery, and an actor playing their co-subject was strapped to a chair infront of the participants with electrodes attached to him having been allocated the role of 'learner'.

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Social - Milgram (1963)

The participants were told the shocks would cause no permanent tissue damage and given trial shocks of 45 volts to give a realistic understanding of what the shocks felt like. Taken to shock generator room.

Experimenter was dressed in a grey lab coat with a clipboard and appeared stern and impassive. If participants showed reluctanct to administer a shock, he'd command them to continue with prompts, e.g. "please continue", "you have no other choice but to continue".     

Participants were instructed to test the learner on a series of word pairs. For every incorrect answer, participants were told to administer increasing levels of electric shocks. The experiment finished when participants refused to continue or had reached 450 volts. Participants were fully debriefed to real nature of experiment and reassured no damage done as learner didn't receive any shocks. 

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Social - Milgram (1963)

Results: Students and colleagues were asked what percentage of participants would administer highest degree of shock. Answers ranged from 1-3%.

65% of participants delivered maximum 450 volts and all 40 participants obeyed experimenter up to 300 volts. In post-experimental interviews participants were asked "How painful to the learner were the last few shocks that you administered to them" and the mean response was 13.2 out of 14.

Many participants showed signs of distress - some sweated, trembled, bit their lip, dug their fingernails into their skin. 3 participants had full-blown seizures.

Milgram stated participants obeyed due to: being in a prestigous university; they believed it was for a worthy purpose; 'learner' had volunteered; sense of obligation to experimenter due to being paid.

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

Background: Tyranny - an unequal social system involving the arbitrary or oppressive use of power by one group or its agents over another.

Zimbardo conducted Stanford Prison Experiment which shows giving students the guard role made them increasingly brutal, giving students prisoner role made them passive and psychologically disturbed. Zimbardo believed the social situation we find ourselves in can have a powerful influence on our behaviour. When in a group, behaviour is not constrained in the same way as when people act as individuals. When groups have power it encourages them to act in anti-social ways.

Reasons for revisiting SPE: 
Reicher and Haslam believed that rather than conformity to social roles leading to extreme antisocial behaviour, a better explanation can be found using 'Social Identity Theory.'

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

Social Identity Theory: - Categorization (we put others in categories, i.e. labelling)
- Identification (we associate with certain groups which improve self-esteem) 
- Comparison (we compare our groups with other groups, seeing a favourable bias towards the group to which we belong)
- Psychological Distinctiveness (we want our identity to be both distinct from and positively compared with other groups)

Reason Two: The results of SPE were meant to generalise directly to American prison regimes. However, the SPE was different to a real prison.

Aim: To create an institution which resembled a prison. To investigate the behaviour of groups that are unequal in resources, power and status. The study was a replication of the Stanford Prison Experiment carried out by Zimbardo 1973.

Method: 15 male participants recruited through advertisements in the national newspaper and leaflets. The initial pool of 332 was reduced after screening.

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

They were screened on:
- Psychometric tests measuring social variables. (i.e. authoritarianism; social dominance' racism) and clinical variables (i.e. depression; aggressiveness; self-esteem)
- Full assessment by independent clinical psychologists.
- Medical and character references obtained and police checks conducted.

They were split into groups of 3 and matched on personality. From each group, 1 participant was randomly selected to be a guard and 2 selected as prisoners. Experimental case study; field study; independent measures design.

Participants were videotaped and audio recorded; They were measured everyday on psychometric tests (social variables, i.e. social identification; awareness of cognitive alternatives; right wing authoritarianism) (organisational variables, i.e. compliance with rules; organisational citizenship) (clinical variables, i.e. self efficiancy; depression) (daily swabs of saliva to establish cortisol levels

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

Guard initiation: 5 participants told they were selected as guards and shown prison timetable, including cleaning chores and prisoner role calls. They were asked to draw up prison rules and punishments for breaking them. Guards were given no guidance on how to achieve their goals but limited by a set of ethically determined basic rights (i.e. told physical violence wasn't accepted).
            They were taken in blacked out vans to the prison and had the ability to put prisoners on a bread and water diet/see inside of their cells. They were given better living conditions (i.e. superior meals, snacks and well made uniforms)

Prisoner initiation: 9 prisoners arrived at one time. They were put into 3-man cells and had their hair shaved upon arrival. Their uniform was a T-shaped shirt with a 3 digit number, loose trousers and flimsy sandals.
            They were told no violence was allowed and given a list of prisoner rights and rules posted on each wall.

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

Permeability of Roles - All participants were told guards had been selected on basis of their reliability and trustworthiness from pre-assessment scales. Also told these qualities may have been missed in some prisoners so movement between groups was possible. (i.e. prisoners could become guards) A change to this on day 3 meant promotion was no longer possible.

Legitimacy of Roles - 3 days after promotion, participants were informed there was no differences in the qualities between guards and prisoners but that it was impractical to reassign roles so groups stayed as they were.

Cognitive Alternatives - A new prisoner was introduced who was chosen because of his background as a trade union official. It was expected he would introduce new and alternative plans of action to enable prisoners to see a way of achieving more equality between the groups.

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

Results (phase one): Social identification (extent to which prisoners and guards identified with their groups) - Shows Guards felt a strong identity with their group at first and were identifying with their high status, but this trailed off after the second day as they failed to reach a common agreement about their role. Shows Prisoners acted in their own individual way at first. However, when opportunities for promotion were eliminated, they started to see themselves as a group and became uncooperative with Guards.

Cognitive Awareness (when the cognitive alternative intervention introduced) - Showed Prisoners became increasingly aware of cognitive alternatives which later lead to organised breakout.

Compliance of Rules - Prisoners worked against the Guards regime in a minor way, i.e. being insubordinate during role call and collectively protesting about the quality of their food. Prisoners compliance diminished once the possibility of promotion was eliminated. Also, the introduction of cognitive alternatives on day 5 led to a decrease in compliance.

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Reicher and Haslam (2006)

Collective self-efficiacy and mental health - Prisoners able to undermine the Guards control and so felt more emotionally positive than the Guards. The Guards became increasingly unsuccessful in trying to exert their authority and their inability to act as a group made them feel despondent, divided and critical of eachother.

Results (phase 2): After the breakout, prisoners and guards established a 'self-governing, self-disciplining commune'. It initially worked well, with former prisoners and guards forming strong ties and putting effort into their work and chores. However, those with a central role in challenging the old regime made no effort on collective tasks, then began to break communal rules and were planning to destroy the commune.

The researchers expected those who supported the commune to defend it but instead, did nothing. They lacked the individual and collective will to make a stand against the new regime.

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Social - Piliavin (1969)

Background: The case of Kitty Genovese (woman stabbed to death in an attack lasting over 30 minutes, taking place in view of 38 unresponsive witnesses). Social psychologists conducted most studies under lab conditions, using non-visual emergency situations.
            Main theories of 'Helping Behaviour': - Diffusion of Responsability (the tendency of multiple bystanders to be less likely to help in an emergency than if they were alone);
- Pluralistic Ignorance (People are guided by the response of those around them, and if no-one is seen to act, they take their cue from that)
- Economic Analysis of Costs and Rewards (People analyse the benefit to themselves of acting to help someone, balancing this against any risk or inconvenience)

Aim: To investigate, under real life conditions, the effect of the type of victim (drunk /ill); the race of the victim (black/white) ; the presence of helping models; the size of the witnessing group on who helped, how quickly they helped and how frequently.

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Social - Piliavin (1969)

Method: Field experiment with 4 IV's (type/race/presence/size). DV = frequence and speed of help; race and sex of helper; movement out of area; verbal comments. Used New York subway travellers between 11am - 3pm; approximately 45% black and 55% white; with a mean of 8.5 bystanders in the 'critical' area. The situation was a non-stop 7.5 minute journey in a subway carriage.

Procedure: 4 teams of 4 researchers - 2 females who recorded reactions; 2 males, one acting as the victim and one acting as model.
Victims were 3 white, 1 black, all aged between 26-35, dressed and acted identically. On 38 trials the victim smelled of liquor and carried a liquor bottle wrapped in a brown bag (i.e. drunk condition), while on the remaining 65 trials they appeared sober carrying a black cane (i.e. cane condition)

Model conditions - 4 conditions were used across both drunk and cane victim conditions. (1) Critical Area (early) - the model stood in the critical area and waited until passing 4th station before assisting (70 seconds after collapse

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Social - Piliavin (1969)

(2) Critical Area (late) - Model stood in critical area and waited until passing the 6th station before assisting (150 seconds after collapse).
(3) Adjacent Area (early) - Model stood in middle of compartment, adjacent to the critical area and waited 70 seconds after the collapse before assisting.
(4) Adjacent Area (late) - Model stood in the middle of compartment, adjacent to the critical area and waited 150 seconds after the collapse before assisting.
When the model provided assistance, he raised the victim to a sitting position and stayed with him for the remainder of the trial.

Measures: On each trial, one of the female observers noted the race, sex and location of each passenger, seated or standing, in the critical area, together with the number of passengers and total number who came to the victims assistance and their race/sex/location.
  The second observer coded the sex, race and location of all the passengers in the adjacent area, plus the latency of the first helpers arrival after the victim had fallen and, on appropriate trials, the latency of the first helpers arrival after the model had intervened

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Social - Piliavin (1969)

Both observers recorded comments spontaneously made by nearby passengers and also tried to elicit comments from a passenger sitting next to them.

Results: Help was given to white 'cane' victims: 100% of 54 trials with no model; 100% of 3 trials with a model. And given to black 'cane' victims: 100% of 8 trials with no model. Help was given to white 'drunk' victims: 100% of 11 trials with no models; 77% of 13 trials with a model. Given to black 'drunk' victims: 73% of 11 trials with no model; 67% of 3 trials with model.

Overall, 93% helped spontaneously (before model), 60% of which involved more than one helper. Help was so spontaneous that the models effect could not be properly studied. No diffusion of responsability was found with the group size; men were significantly more likely to help the victim than women

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Social - Piliavin (1969)

Explanation: Unlike earlier studies, bystanders were continuously and visually presented with the emergency situation, so it was difficult to ignore. Immediate situations decrease the 'diffusion of impact'.

The Arousal: "Cost-Reward Model" proposes that the decision to help depends upon the costs and rewards of helping vs. not helping. Therefore, less help for drunk victims occurs because the costs are high (danger) and the costs of not helping are low as it is unlikely to be blamed for not helping a drunk, and the rewards are low.

Fewer costs incurred in helping someone of the same race in terms of public censure and it is possible that someone of the same race will have greater witness arousal empathy.

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