Reicher and Haslam (4)
Weaknesses: 1. They suggest that the behaviour of participants could have been determined by the fact that they knew they were being observed by television cameras and that this could render the study so artificial as to have little or no general value. However the researchers make a robust defence of their study by arguing that the screening process was used to exclude anyone who was motivated by the desire for publicity, that behaviour was backed up by physiological and psychological tests and that play-acting was unlikely over such a long period. Furthermore the researchers suggested that play acting to the cameras could not explain the changes in observed behaviour throughout the study and importantly in response to the planned interventions. They also note that surveillance is becoming a normal part of everyday life. 2. They note that the effects they observed could have been a product of participants’ personalities rather than group processes. e.g. the 3 more powerful participants may have been predisposed to overwhelm the guards. Again the researchers make a robust defence of their study and argue that although individual differences are part of the story they note that personality could not explain changing behaviour patterns throughout the study. For example, one participant who opposed the guards’ authority was deferential until he realised that he could no longer have promotion as a guard.