Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Aims and Context
Context - Evolutionary psychology suggests that certain fears are adaptive behaviours that helped our distant ancestors to survive. If we are extremely fearful on an animal and we try to get away from it, we are less likely to get hurt by it. The fears that were important to our ancestors may lie dormant in our brains.
Seligman (1971) proposed the concept of biological preparedness which is an inherited predisposition to certain classes of animals.
Fears of animals are not matched with traumatic experiences - e.g a person may fear animals despite there having been no actual contact to have triggered this fear response.
Bennett-Levy and Marteau identify four pieces of evidence in favour of preparedness.
1. Fears often appear very early in life - reaching around the peak of around 4 years old, this consistency is unlikely to arise if their developing fears were related to their encounters, suggesting instead that fears have innate origins.
2. Fears are not matched with negative experiences with a species - this suggests that the characteristics of a species such as being very different in form from humans may be more important than its actual dangerousness.
3. The pattern of animal phobias is non random - not all animals are equally likely to elict a fear response.
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Aims and Context (conti
4. A phobic individual's fears' persist despite their knowledge that the feared animal is harmless - such as fears of rats even when they are tame an innocous, this suggests that there are basic aspects of the species that elicit the response.
The concept of biological preparedness is further supported by research on lab and wild reared monkeys.
Mineka et al (1980) found that wild reared monkeys showed a considerable amount of fear to real, model and toy snakes. Whereas the lab reared monkeys showed a mild response to the snakes. This can be explained in terms of the direct experience that the wild monkeys may have had to have triggered this fear response (operant conditioning or observational learning)
Hinde (1974) also suggested that certain other characteristics evoke a fear response, namelu novelty and strangeness. Hinde further suggested that there is a large discrepancy between a stimulus such as a snake and an organism's model of the world which is the basic for this response.
This was supported by Bennett-Levy and Marteau's experience of treating patients with phobias. As they found that when patients were asked to describe what they feared about animals it invariably relied on what the animal looked like and felt like.
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Aims and Context (conti
- Seligman's concept of biological preparedness offered no suggestion about the mechanism by which such preparedness would operate.
- Bennett-Levy and Marteau aimed to investigae the underlying mechanism - human beings are biologically prepared to fear certain stimulus configurations in animals such as rapid or abrupt movement or discrepancies from the human form.
- They predicted that the perceptual characterisitcs of small, harmless animals should be related to the distribution of ratings of fear and avoidance of these animals.
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Procedures
113 participants attending a British health centre were given one out of two questionnaires. The questionnaires were randomly distributed to an oppurtunity sample.
Group 1 who completed questionnaire 1 consisted of 34 females and 30 males. The mean age of group was 35.5 years and the total number of people was 64.
Group 2 who completed questionnaire 2 consisted of 25 females and 24 males. The mean age of group 2 was 35.1 years and the total number of people was 49.
The questionnaire concerned 29 small harmless animals and insects. The reason for studying 'harmless' animals was because it was argued that the same perceptual characteristics that create fear in harmful animals should also create fear in harmless animals eventhough they are of no biological significance to the survival of humans.
Questionnaire 1 was designed to measure self-reported fear and avoidance on the animals on two scales: 1. FEAR SCALE - participants were asked to rate their fear on the 29 animals on a three point scale:
- 1= not afraid
- 2= quite afraid
- 3=very afraid
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Procedures (continued)
2. NEARNESS SCALE: participants were asked to rate their avoidance on the animals on a five point scale. Participants were instructed "as some animals and insects are difficult to pick up in the wild, imagine that they have been injured in some way, for instance the birds a broken wing or the squirrel a broken foot"
The ratings consisted of the following points
1=enjoy picking it up
2=would pick it up but unpleasant
3=touch it or go within six inches
4=stand one to six feet way
5=move further than six feet away.
Questionnaire 2 was designed to measure self-reported ratings of the same 29 animals and insects but specifically along four perceptual dimensions. The following instructions were given: 'We would like you to consider how ugly, slimy and speedy the animals are and how suddenly they appear to move'. A three point scale was used: 1=not 2=quite 3=very
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Findings and Conclusion
Rats were the most feared animals as their mean score of fear was 2.08. Informal questioning suggested that they were percieved as potentially harmful. Whereas rabbits were the least feared as their mean score of fear was 1.02.
In the nearness ratings, Females were found to be less willing to approach or pick up 10 of the animals then men. These animals (in descending order) were jellyfish, cockcroach, ant moth, crow, worm, beetle slug, mouse and spider.
The men in group 1 rated themselves as less fearful than women eventhough they were responsive to the animal characteristics.
There were no notable sex differences in ratings of ugliness, sliminess, speediness and suddenness.
The ratings of ugliness and sliminess were significantly correlated with fear and nearness measures.
"the results of this study suggest that the perceptual characteristics of animals are of some importance in determining positive and negative appraisal by humans"
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Methodology
Questionnaire: strength because: large sample, equal male and females, can generalise findings, can indentify patterns and trends, quantitative data, reliable can repeat again. Weakness because: participants may not tell the truth about their fears or avoidance of animals, maybe embrassed, may want to please the researcher: problem of internal validity of the study.
Weakness: Questions asked, "we would like you to consider how ugly, slimy, speedy the animals are and how suddenly they appear to move" : different participants may have different perceptions of what ugly and slimy is, effects validity.
Weakness: Social desirability bias: rate themselves according to what they think they should fear e.g cockcroaches even they have never seen one.
Weakness: Limited scale: people may not know themselves well, may not feel that a 3 point scale or a 5 point scale can represent their view, so they may guess, affects validity again.
Weakness: Low ecological validity: real animals there may have changed how they rated the the questions.
Weakness: Oppurtunity sampling: strengh because: easy and quick to get, weakness because: may not be representative of target population.
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Methodology
Informed consent: strength because it was obtained, no one was decieved.
No psychological or physical harm: strength.
Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Alternative Evidence
Cook and Mineka (1989) - found that Rhesus monkeys could learn to be afraid of fear-relevant stimuli (e.g snakes and crocodiles) but not fear irrelevant stimuli (e.g flowers and a toy rabbit. Supports idea of preparedness as rhesus monkeys feared a certain class of animals which were reptiles and fear particular fearful visible characteristics.
Additional support comes from Ohman and Soares they found that participants conditoned more quickly to electric shocks paired with fear relevant stimuli (pictures of snakes and spiders) than fear irrelevant stimuli (pictures of flowers or mushrooms). Fear relevant stimulu could support both discrepancy and aversive properties criteria. Supports Bennett-Levy and Marteau as they aimed to investigate if humans fear discrepancies from the human form.
- Mineka et al (1980)
- Hinde (1974)
Asch - Aims and Context
Social influence is the study of how our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are affected by other people. Asch believed 'that social influences shape every person's practises, judgments and beliefs'. He also believed that everyone accepts what is true from those around them, 'a member of a tribe of cannibals accepts cannibalism as altogether fitting and proper'
However what Asch was really interested in was 'to what extent do social forces constrain people's opinions and attitudes?' 'Is everyone equally susceptible to group pressure or can some resist and remain independent in opinion?'
Well, before Asch conducted his experiment he looked into previous psychological experiments which suggested that most humans can be hypnotised and that hypnotism was an extreme form of a normal psychological process called suggestibility. This gave the general opinion of social psychologists at the time that all humans are equally suggestible to social pressure and as Gabriel Tarde summed up "social man is a somnambulist". This means "in other words, we sleep walk through life and will always give into group"
Asch - Aims and Context
Jenness (1932) conducted an early piece of research on conformity
- Asked participants to guess how many jelly beans were in a jar.
- Gave them the oppurtunity to discuss their estimates then asked them for individual estimates again
- Found that individual estimates tended to meet to a group norm
- Seems reasonable that in an ambiguous situation, one looks to others to get an idea about a reasonable answer.
Asch believes that Jenness research is limited as he asked his participants to produce a group estimate rather than observing if they would produce similar estimates to others.
Asch - Aims and Context
Sherif (1935) also conducted an experiment on conformity using an auto kinetic effect - when stationary light appears in an otherwise dark room
- Told his participants that he would move the light
- asked them to estimate distance the spot of light had moved
- participants initially tested individually then told to work with three others with quite different estimates to them.
- After discussion, they were asked to give individual estimates again, found that estimates were similar to those in their group. Demonstrating tendency to establish and conform to group norms.
Asch believes that Sherif's research is an improvement over Jenness as he did not specifically ask his participants to produce a group estimate instead they arrived at a group norm under their own violation. However he believed that both Jenness and Sherif's research did not really measure conformity, instead it measured the formation of group norms rather than if people conformed to the behaviour and opinion of others.
All these experiments were successful in finding that opinions changed due to social pressure, however Asch was suspicious of their success and quoted: 'Now the very ease of success of these experiments arouses suspicion. Did the subjects actually change their opinion or were the experimental victories scored only on paper?'
Asch - Aims and Context
Asch aimed to investigate the effects of group pressure on individuals in an unambiguous situation.
He wanted to find out if confronted with an obviously wrong answer (an unambiguous task) whether individuals would give an answer which conformed to this error agreeing with the majority of whether they would give an independent response.
Asch - Procedures
Asch told student volunteers that they were taking part in a vision test. Although unbeknown to these volunteers all but one of the participants were really confederates of the experimenter.
The real purpose of the experiment was to see how the naive participant would react to the behaviour of the confederates.
- Type of sampling: volunteer
- 123 male undergraduates from 3 different US colleges were tested.
- A group of seven to nine young men were assembled in a classrom for a psychological experiment in visual judgment
- The experimenter informs them that they will be comparing the length of lines.
- They are shown two big white cards. on one is a straight black verticle line, the standard whose length is to be matched.
- On the other are three verticle lines are various lengths.
- The subjects are asked to choose one of three lines that matches the line on the other card.
- One of the three lines is the same matching length. The other two substantially different, difference ranging from three quarters of an inch to an inch and three quarters.
- The experiment opens uneventfully and the subjects announce their answers in the order in which they have been seated in.
Asch - Procedures 2
After trial, Asch revealed the true nature of the research and interviewed the naive participants about their responses and behaviour.
Asch questioned whether the size of the majority or its unanimity was more important in determining conformity. He therefore tried a number of variations to discover the effect of certain factors on conformity levels.
The variations were:
- The size of the group: this varied from 1-15 people
- The truthful partner: one group answered truthfully. This role was played by a confederate or another naive participant.
- A dissenting, inaccuarate partner: a confederate was introduced who disagreed with the naive participant.
- A partner who changes his mind: in the previous studies, the naive participant was observed in a single setting. What would happen if the situation changed? In this variation, the confederate partner charts by giving correct responses for the first 6 critical trials then joined the majority for the remaining 6 trials.
Asch - Findings and conclusions
Two alternative were given to the subject: he could act independently going against the majority or he could go along with the majority going against the evidence of his senses.
- Out of the 123 put to test a considerable percentage yielded to the majority. Whereas 'in ordinary circumstances, individuals matching the lines will make mistakes less than one percent of the time'
- On the critical trials 36.8 of the responses made by the naive participants were incorrect.
Individual difference in behaviour
- There were notable individual differences in response. About 25% of the naive participants never gave a conforming response, suggesting that 75% did.
- participant behaviour (independent or compliant) over the critical trials tended to be consistent.
- Believed that "I am wrong, they are right"
- Yielded "not to spoil the results"
- Suspected the majority were "sheep" following the first responding participant
- Thought the majority were "victim of an optical illusion"
- Thought they were 'deficient' in comparison to the test of the group and this 'deficiency' needed to be hidden at all costs.
- All the compliant individuals underestimated the frequency with which they conformed.
Asch - Findings and conclusions 2
The size of the group:
- With only one confederate, the naive participant was swayed very little.
- Two confederates, the naive participant accepted the wrong answer 13.6 of the time
- With three confederates this rose to 31.8
- The addition of further confederates made little difference
A truthful partner:
- This reduced the pressure to conform, participants answered incorrectly only 25% as often as in the baseline investigation.
A dissenting, inaccurate partner:
- the effect was again to reduce the pressure to conform - the presence of a dissenter increased independence.
Asch - Findings and conclusions 3
A partner who changes his mind:
- when the confederate partner started by being independent but then conformed to the majority, the naive participant also behaved independently for the first six critical trials but then submitted to the majority's wrong answers, following his partner.
- Thus his initial independent behaviour had no lasting effect.
A partner who leaves:
- if the independent partner had to leave the investigation after the first six critical trials (for a pre-arranged appointment) then the naive participant also reverted to being influenced by the majority but less than if the partner had deserted for 'no good reason'
Asch - Findings and conclusions 4
- Asch concluded that the tendency for conformity is a power influence on our behaviour. He stated: 'That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white is black as a matter of concern'
- However he also noted that the majority did not conform to blatantly wrong group beliefs as on two thirds of his trials, his participants remained independent.
- However he concluded that the people had tendency to conform because they had the support of someone else.
- He also noted that all the participants he had questioned believed that independence is more important than conformity.
Asch - Methodology
Lab experiment: highly controlled conditions, extraneous variables were kept to a minimum. However artificial setting produces artificial behaviour, more likely to conform.
Sample size: 123 participants, he can generate his results.
Ecological validity: location of experiment, university natural environment for participants. But low as it doesn't represent everyday conformity.
Sample: was large but characterisitics of participants very similar e.g young male American student, difficult to generalise. Doesn't include women, doesn't include other ethnic backgrounds, social class.
Validity: Asch was interested in social influence on social opinions but he tested conformity to perceptions of the length of a line, doesn't represent everyday conformity. Asch's participants were strangers, less likely to conform, in real life we are influenced by people we know.
Reliability: procedure was highly standardised, easy to replicate however it changes overtime historically.
Asch - Methodology 2
- informed consent: participants consented to take part in an experiment on perception they did not consent to take part in social psychology experiment on conformity, therefore they did not give informed consent.
- deception: participants were deceived about the nature of the experiment.
Asch - Alternative Evidence
Perrin and Spencer (1980) repeated Asch's study in England in the late 1970s. They conducted 396 trials and found that only one student conformed. This does not support Asch because during the study it was an era of McCarthyism.
Jenness 1932 - supports Asch link to procedures
Sherif 1935 - supports Asch link to procedures
Smith and Bond (1988) reviewed 133 studies carried out in 17 countries and concluded that the collectivist societies are more conformist than individual ones. This is because collectivist societies percieve themselves as a group rather than an individual. This contradicts Asch as his participants in his studies were from an individualistic society and according to this research would be less likely to conform.
Milgram - Aim and Context
'Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of athourity is a requirement of all communal living and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the command of others.'
This means were are social beings and need system of authority in order to live together as a community and therefore obedience is necessary because of our social structure. We would be in isolation if we didn't respond to the commands of other people.
Throughout history there has been human horrors one of which is during the second world war when the Nazi government in Germany initiated a policy to exterminate 'worthless' ethnic groups. This led to the deaths of millions of people of Jewish descent and killing also extended to the mentally ill, homosexuals and gypsies. It's not easy to kill this number of people and so death camps were set up to increase the killing efficiency. Auschwitz was the most efficient camp established by the Nazi regime, peaking at 12,000 deaths a day, total estimates being between one and two and a half million. In 1944, Adolf Eichmann who had been in charge of the 'Final Solution' reported his unit had overseen the deaths of approx. four million Jews in death camps and that an estimated two million had been killed by mobile units. He was captured in 1960 and put on trial in 1961 and Eichmann (like many other war criminals when brought to trial) claimed that he had only been 'obeying orders'. The disturbing reality was that most of the war criminals were and still are 'terrifyingly normal'
Milgram - Aim and Context 2
Milgram suggested that it was only 'Germans' that could commit such atrocities and therefore he was testing the 'Germans are different' dispositional hypothesis, opposed to the reason for obedience being situational. Many researchers believed that Germans tended to have a particular type of personality, the authoritarian personality. This concept was proposed by Adorno et al (1950) who suggested that authoritarian personalities are likely to become more prejudiced against minority groups as a result of unconscious hostility arising from harsh disciplinarian upbringing.
Milgram - Procedures
- The subjects were 40 males between the ages of 20 and 50 drawn from New Haven and the surrounding communities.
- Subjects were obtained by a newspaper advertisement and direct mail solicitation.
- The method was volunteer
- The sampling type was volunteer
- Those who responded to the appeal believed they were to participate in a study of memory and learning at Yale University
- A wide range of occupations is represented in the sample.
- Typical subjects were postal clerks, high school teachers, salesmen, engineers and labourers.
- Subjects ranged in educational level from one who had not finished elementary school to those who had doctorate and other professional degrees.
- They were paid $4.50 for their participation in the experiment. However subjects were told that payment was simply for coming to the laboratory, and that the money was theirs no matter what happened after they arrived.
- The experiment was conducted on the grounds of Yale University in an elegant interaction laboratory.
- The role of the experimenter was played by a 31 year old high school teacher of biology. His manner was impassive and his appearance somewhat stern throughout the experiment.
Milgram - Procedures 2
- He was dressed in a grey technician's coat.
- The confederate was played by a 47 year old accountant trained for the role.
- The participants were told the 'cover story' that the experiment was to find out the effect of punishment on learning.
- Subjects then drew slips of paper from a hat to determine who would be the teacher and who would be the learner in the experiment.
- The drawing was rigged and both slips contained the word 'teacher' so that the participant would always be the teacher.
- After this, the teacher and the learner were taken to an adjacent room and the learner was strapped into an 'electric chair' apparatus.
- The experimenter explained that the straps were to prevent excessive movement while the learner was being shocked. An electrode and electrode paste was applied to the learner's wrist to prevent 'burns or blisters'
- Subjects were told that the electrode was attached to the shock generator in the adjoining room.
- The generator was demonstrated by giving the participant a mild shock of 45 volts. The shock was applied to the wrist of the participant, its source was a 45 volt battery wired to the generator.
Milgram - Procedures 3
- The teacher was taken to the adjoining room and seated in front of the shock generator. This large machine had 30 switches on it, each showing a rise in voltage.
- Starting at 15 volts and going up to 450 volts. For every four switches, there were 'shock' labels, starting at 'slight shock' at 15 volts, 'intense shock' at 255 volts, '***' at 450 volts the potentially fatal shock.
- The experimenter gave the teacher a sample shock to demonstrate that the machine was real.
- The task was a paired associate task.
- The participant had to read a series of word pairs to the learner and then read the first word of the pair along with four terms.
- The learner had to indicate which of the four terms had been originally paired with the word by pressing one of the four switches in front of him, which then lit up one of the four quadrants in an answer box located at the top of the generator.
- Once the study began, the teacher was told to administer a shock when the learner gave a wrong answer and to escalate to a higher level of shock each time, announcing the shock level each time.
- The learner was told to give 3 wrong answers to every correct answer.
- The learner was told to make no comment or protest until they reached 300 volts.
- When the learner reached 300 volts he was told to pound on the wall but after make no further comment.
Milgram - Procedures 4
Feedback from the experimenter - if the participant showed an unwillingness to continue, the experimenter was trained to give a sequence of four prods which were:
1. please continue
2. the experiment requires that you continue
3. it is absolutely essential that you continue
4. you have no other choice you must go on.
After the research was completed, the teacher was thoroughly 'de hoaxed' and the experimenter united the teacher and the learner.
They were interviewed about their experience in this study.
Milgram - Findings and conclusions
Prior to the study, 14 Yale seniors all psychology majors were provided with a detailed description of the experimental situation and were asked to give a hypothetical result for 100 American participants, diverse in occupation and ranging from the ages of 20 to 50. All respondents predicted that only a minority would go to the end of the shock series (estimates ranging from 0% to 3%). The most pessimistic member of the group predicted 3 would continue to 450 volts. The class average mean was 1.2%.
At 300 volts, five 12.5% of the participants refused to continue. At this voltage the learner made the only protest. All the participants had continued up to this point.
A total of 26 of the 40 participants (65%) administered the full of 450 volts. This means that 35% of the participants defied the experimenters authority.
Many subjects showed nervousness and a large number showed extreme tension: 'subjects were observed to sweat, tremble, stutter, bite their lips, groan and dig their finger nails into their flesh'.
Fourteen participants displayed 'nervous laughter and smiling' Their remarks and outward behaviour indicated that they were acting against their own values in punishing the learner. After the experiment, in the interview (the dehoax) these participants explained that they were not sadistic and that their laughter did not mean that they enjoyed shocking the learner.
Milgram - Findings and conclusions
Three participants had 'full blown uncontrollable seizures'
One participant had such a violent convulsion that the research session had to be stopped.
After the study
participants were sent a follow-up questionnaire. Of the 92% of participants who responded:
84% were 'glad/very glad' to have taken part
15% were 'neutral' about having taken part
2% were 'sorry/very sorry' to have taken part
80% said more experiments like this should be carried out
74% felt they had learned something of personal importance.
Milgram - Findings and conclusions
- Milgram concluded that 'the phenomenon of obedience must rest on the analysis of the particular conditions in which it occurs'. Therefore it was the situation that people found themselves in that made it difficult for them to disobey. Milgram concluded that there were 13 elements in this situation that had contributed to these levels of obedience. Some of them were:
1. The location of the study at a prestigious university provided authority.
2. Participants assumed that the experimenter knew what he was doing and had a worthy purpose, so he should be followed.
3. Participants assumed that learner voluntarily consented to take part.
4. The participant didn't wish to disrupt the experiment because he felt under obligation to the experimenter due to his voluntary consent to take part.
5.The sense of obligation was reinforced because the participant was being paid (although he had been told he could leave)
Milgram - Methodology
Lab experiment - conducted in highly controlled conditions (prods) therefore extraneous variables were kept to a minimum (the teacher was in the room alone with the experimenter no interruptions)
Quantitative and qualitative data
Quantitative data: the numbers of how far people went up the shock machine, the amount of people who went up the shock machine.
Qualitative data: the interview afterwards, experience, emotions feelings of people who took part.
Confidentiality: after leaving the lab, their family would not have known
Ecological validity: the study was in lab conditions, task does not reflect everyday life, artificial setting.
Sample: volunteer sample, does not represent views of a wider population, unrepresentative, participants all males cant generalise findings to females.
Right to withdraw: prods were set deliberately to stop people from withdrawing
Milgram - Methodology 2
Physical and psychological harm - seizures, nervous laughter - anxiety, guilt, worry
Deception - thought they were giving real shocks, shock generator wasn't real, made it look real.
Informed consent - believed were taking part in a study of memory and learning but it was obedience.
Milgram - Alternative Evidence
Sheridan and King (1972) found similar levels of obedience using real shocks.
- A small puppy was used as the 'victim' and real electrics with increasing voltage was given to the puppy. Eventhough the puppy was in the same room and could be seen yelping as the shocks were given 75% of participants delivered the maximum shock. The women obeyed more than the men did.
- Supports Milgram, devlops his ideas to an ecologically valid situation
Burger (2009) completed a partial replication of Milgram's study using a similar procedure as Milgram but didn't allow his participants to continue over 150 volts once they had showed the willingness to do so. He found that 70% of participants were willing to do so even if it would harm another person. This partly supports Milgram's study as a high percentage of participants did agree to continue with the shocks, even though they knew they were going to harm another person. However in Milgram's research the obedience was was higher as 100% of his participants continued higher than 150 volts.
Milgram - Alternative Evidence
Hoffling et al (1996) carried out a field study of obedience in 22 American hospitals. Nurses were telephoned by a 'Dr Smith' who asked them to give 20mg of a drug called 'Astroten' to a patient. This order contravened hospital regulation in a number of ways - nurses were not supposed to take instructions over the telephone or from an unknown doctor and dosage was twice then what was advised on the bottle. However, 21 out of 22 (95%) nurses did as requested. The nurses obeyed because they said that's what doctors expected nurses to do. This supports Asch as it has high ecological validity - real nurses doing everyday jobs.
Rank and Jacobson (1977) also asked nurses to carry out an irregular order. This time 16 out of 18 (89%) refused. The difference on this occasion was that the drug was familiar, it was Valium and the nurses were allowed to consult their peers which is a more realistic representation of actual hospital practices. This contradicts Asch because when allowed to discuss, you think about actions therefore become less obedient.