milgram, py2 essay

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  • Created by: Sara.N
  • Created on: 30-04-14 12:38
  • Q1) aims and context of milgrams (1963) research into obedience


  • to see if an authority figure can make ordinary citizens apparently injure others, simply by the power of the situation.
  • this would then support the hypothesis that some character defects in germans made obedience to authority unquestionning and total.


  • milgram was born int eh Bronx, New York to jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in 1933
  • although his family were religious, they were deeply conscious of their roots and heritage, while remaining patriotic Americans.
  • his family were profoundly affect by the second world war, with many dying in pograms and holocausts.
  • by his high scholl days,milgram was worried that the inhuman activites of the Nazis could be repeated in another country, so much so that his classmate Zimbardo described it as a near obssesion.
  • psychological explanations of the actions of 'ordianary Germans' varied rom abnormal upbringing to a moral managerial- Adorno identified the 'authoritarian personality', who obeyed orders from superiors but treated inferiors in a  rigid and unfair way.
  • this was supposed to stem back from violent and pumitive upbringing.
  • this sugessted something intersting int he Germanic authority that all let itself to unquestionning authority.
  • however, this was contrsdicted by Arendt, who saw the operators of concentration camps as managers who had lost their self-conscious. she coined the memorable phrase, 'the banalties (ordinariness) of evil'.
  • milgram tended to believe, like Arendt that it was the situation, not the upbringing that turned ordianry citizens into killers.


  • milgram chose a career into socail psychology late in his education and was a research assitant to Asch.
  • he went onto conducting cross-cultural conformity experiments comparing Americans and Germans and then turned procedure he developed to research into obedience.

Q2) procedures into Milgram's 1963 research into obedience

  • milgram placed an advertisement in a New Haven newspaper claiming volunterrs were needed for a study into learnign and memory.
  • from the responses he selected 120 males aged between 20-45 years
  • they had a range of jobs from postal clerks to engineers and varied in educational levels from someone who hadn't finished school to doctorate
  • each man was given $4.50 for their participation.


  • the study took place in Yale University
  • the participants were greeted by the 'experimenter' at their arrival, a 31 year old man dressed in a grey technicains coat.
  • another 'participant' was at the lab, a likeable 47 year old man, Mr ....... both men were confederates of Milgram
  • the teacher left the learner strapped into a chair with electric shock equpiment, seemingly ready to give electric shocks during the study
  • the teacher moved to a room where they sat at an generator panel, supervised by the experimenter.
  • the shock generator had switches ranging from 15V, labelled with description of intensity, such as 'strong shock', the final 435V and 450V had a label of 'xxxx'.



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