Milgram revision cards

Aim: To measure levels obedience when put under an authority figure

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  • Lab experiment
  1. Stanardised procedures
  2. Controlled conditions
  3. No manupulation of independent variable
  4. Controlled observations - uses observation to collect data - consisted of max level of shock with recorded sessions.
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Sample participants

  • 40 men, 20-50 paid $4.50
  • New haven area, USA
  • Mixed qualifications and occupations
  • Volunteer sample
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Convincing participants

  • Participants went one at a time
  • Suitable cover story about learning and memory - advert in the local paper
  • Lottery was drawn -rigged as all of the slips said teacher on them
  • The teacher (participant) saw the learner get strapped into an armchair with electrodes on the head too
  • When asked if shocks were painful scientist replied 'there will be no permanent damage.'
  • Each participant was given a sample shock to convince them the generator was real.

Learning task

  • To match a word with another word

Shock generator

  • Looked, sounded and percieved to be real, alongside 30 switched from 15 to 450volts.

Experimentor feedback

  • Any refusal or questioning was met by verbal prods- 'please continue' 'the experiment requires you must continue.'

After the study

  • Teachers reunited with learners and told it wasn't real and got debriefed. They were also offered 12 months of counselling.
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Results and findings

  • Participants showed signs of nervousness - sweating, shaking, heavy breathing.
  • One person had a violent seizure so the study had to stop.

26/40 went up to 450 volts.

  • 300 - 5 refused
  • 315 - 4 refused
  • 330 - 2 refused
  • 345, 360, 375 - 1 refused.

Evidemce supports hypothesis.

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Reasons for obedience

  1. Prestigous university - Yale
  2. Worthy experiment
  3. 'Victim' volunteered to do the study
  4. Participants volunteered - obligated?
  5. Paid
  6. Participants unclear about rights
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Strengths and weaknesses


  • Highly controlled observation
  • Mudane Realism: due to the shock generator


  1. Ethics
  • Decieved
  • Didn't give informal consent
  • Right to withdraw was unclear
  • Protection of participants

2. Lacks ecological validity

  • Artificial setting
  • Low in mudane realism

3. Demand characteristics

  • Subjects may want to please experimentor

4. Un-generalisable

  • No women
  • No different cultures
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Individuals relinquish their personal views and act in agent of somebody else's view under authority good people will do bad things.

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