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  • Created by: Sam
  • Created on: 29-04-14 16:46

Milgram- Context and Aims


  • Arendt (1965) : Reflected on the actions of Nazi leader Eichman in WW2 she suggested he was not a monster but 'terrifyingly normal' , he claims he was just obeying orders.
  • reason why Nazi leaders prepared to ill was because they were just obeying orders. 
  • Adorno et al (1950): Proposed some people are more obediant than others, called authoritarian personalty. They obey orders from people higher, but are prejudiced against minority groups. 


  • Milgram wanted to test the 'Germans are different hypothesis'. That behaviour is caused by internal factors, explaining the Nazi leader's behaviour. 
  • Milgram recognised obediance is part of life, desirable for people to obey orders, not desirable to obey destructive orders. 
  • Milgram aimed to create a situation to measure the extent to which people are obediant, and thw wilingness to obey destructive orders. 
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Milgram - Procedure

  • Sample of 40 male US volunteers from newspaper advert, paid $4.50. Ages between 20-50. They were told study was about learning.
  • Naive particiapant introduced to confederate 'Mr Wallace' , also a experimenter, participants drew lots to see who would be learner/ teacher,participants always teacher. 
  • Learner strapped to 'electric chair' electrode on wrist, teacher in adjoining room with shock machine. 
  • Starts at 15v slight shock up to 450 volts marked ***. Teacher has sample shock to show test was real. 
  • Teacher told to administer shock, when learner got a wrong answer and to esculate the intsensity of the shock with each mistake. 
  • Learner was told to give 3 worng answers for every 1 correct. Learner told not to comment until 300 v where they were told to pound on the wall. 
  • Experimenter was told to respond to any questions from learner with 'please continue' , 'the experiment requires you to continue' 
  • After experiment participants were given thorough debreif, then interviewed. 
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Milgram- Findings

Before the study Milgram serveyed 14 Yale psychology students, they estimated between 0-3 % would give the 450 V. 

  • All participants continued to 300V, but 5 of the participants refused to continue when the learner made a protest. (12.5%)
  • Twenty six (65%) of the participants gave the full 450 V. Therefore 35% defied the experimenter's authority at some point. 
  • Participants reacted badly-sweating, trembling, stuttering biting lips, digging nails. 14 particpants showed nervous laughter, 3 particpants had uncontrollable seizures. 1 participant had a voilent convulsion, and the researh was stopped. 
  • Qualiliative data was also gained from comments, e.g. i can't do that.... 
  • After the study: participants were given a questionnaire: 
    • 92% responded. 
    • 84% were glad to have taken part, 2% were not. 
    • 80% said more experiment like it should be carried out. 
    • 74% they had learnt something of personal importance. 
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Milgram - Conclusions

Milgram concluded that it was exterhatnal rather than intenal factors that created an environment where it was difficult to disobey. 

Milgram Identified some key elements of the situation that contributed to high obedience: 

  • Prestige- if the location is prestigious, e.g. Yale, this gave authority. 
  • Experimenter trustoworthyness- participants assume experimenter knew what they were doing.
  • Sense of obligation- learner didn't want to disrupt the study. 

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Milgram - Methodology+ Alternative Evidence.

  • D: Lab envrionment, no experiment, control extraneous variables, demand                        characteristics
  • E: Unjustifiable psychological harm- BAURMIND 1964 however Milgram replied: he  wasn't aware the high levels of stress which would be caused, he considered      ending the experiment, debreifing, 84% said they were glad to have participated,   benefits out weigh costs. 
  • R:  
  • V: Low ecological validity, artificial setting, demand characterics, people went along with experimen without thinking it was real. However Milgram, said only 2.4% of participants didn't believe the experiment was real. 
  • S: All men, however study showed 65% women also obeyed. However they showed  more stress. Volunteer sample- quick, easy, certain type of people. 

Alternative Evidence: 

  • Hofling et al 1996: 21/22 obeyed instructions from unknown dr to give obviously wrong dosage. 
  • Burger 2009: Replicated study but didn't allow volts above 150v, 70% would have carried on. 
  • Sheridan and King 1972 - real shocks with puppies, 75% went to max shock more women. 
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