Social Psychology Booklet One

  • Created by: Dione M
  • Created on: 26-04-20 17:58

Milgram's original study (1963)

Milgram's (1963) - Study of obedience to authority 


To investigate whether ordinary people would follow orders and give innocent people a potentially harmful electric shock

Milgram also wanted to establish under what conditions people would display more obedience or dissent. He varied his original experiment to test different factors

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Milgram's original study (1963)

Milgram's (1963) - Study of obedience to authority (scroll down) 


An advertisement was placed in the local newspaper asking for male participants to take part in a study of memory and learning. 

The advert asked for all occupations (excluding students) to apply and offered a $4 incentive for taking part.

In the original experiment, 40 male participants volunteered. Most of the experiments were conducted at Yale University

There were two confederates in this study - the 'experimenter' and the 'learner'.

Individual participants were told they and another man (learner) would take part to study the effects of punishment on memory.

The experimenter stated that the fairest way of allocating these roles was to draw lots. However, the draw was rigged. This meant that the real participants was the 'teacher' and the confederate was always the 'learner'.

The teacher and the learner were then taken into a room and the learner was seated in an electric chair apparatus. 

An electrode to administer an electric shock was strapped to the learner's wrist. The teacher was told the shocks would be genuine but not dangerous. However, the learner experienced no shocks at all.

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Milgram's original study (1963)

Milgram's (1963) - Study of obedience to authority (scroll down) 

Procedure continued:

In another room, the teacher was shown the equipment - a shock generator with switches and lights going from 15v to 450v with descriptions about the shock levels e.g. 'slight shock' to '***'. To convince the teacher that the shocks were real, they were given a 45v shock.

Once the teacher and learner were in separate rooms the experiment began. The teacher read a list of word pairs and then tested the learner. The teacher gave a shock and increased the shock everytime an answer was wrong. 

The learner reslss was scripted and no shocks were given. At various points the learner complained of pain, said his heart was starting to bother him and refused to continue, and before going silent at 315v. The experimenter used 'prods' to encourage the teacher to continue when they protested or refused to continue.

Obedience was measured  by his far up the generator the teacher went before refusing to obey any more. Once they reached 450v, they were asked to repeat the same shock. 

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Milgram's original study (1963)

Milgram's (1963) - Study of obedience to authority 


Milgram carried out a questionnaire on a group of people before the actual research. He asked what level of shock they thought the participants would go up to. Most thought they would stop at the point that the victim asked to be released (140v) and believed that few, if any, would go beyond very strong shock.

However, the results of the experiment were quite different :

All participants gave 300v shocks. 

14 stopped between 300v and 375v. 

26 out of 40 participants (65%) went to the end of the shock generator and continued administering 450v for three trials before the experiment was ended. 

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Milgram's original study (1963)

Milgram's (1963) - Study of obedience to authority (GRAVE) 


40 male American participants 

No female or different cultures in the origional experiment. 


The experiment was standardised and can be easily replicated

The experiment was cheap as there was no real apparatus.


The research is it demonstrates how obedience to authority works and can be used to explain real-life atrocities

Abu Ghraib Scandal 


The experiment was unrealistic and not representative of real-life and not representative of real-life behavior. 

On the other hand, Hofling (1966) carried out a study looking at the real-life doctor-nurse relationship. 


Informed concent 


Protection of participants from harm


Right to withdraw


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