Social Study In Detail - Meeus & Raaijmakers (1986)

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Carrying Out Orders To Use Psychological-Administrative Violece


Meeus & Raaijmakers


To investigate destructive violence in the everyday situation of a job interview. Specifically, to see to what extent people will obey orders to psychologically abuse a job interviewee. It was a way of replicating Milgram’s study in a more ecologically valid setting. They also changed the type of abuse that the participant’s had to administer, which they claimed to be closer to real life than administering electric shocks.


39 (15 in the control group, 24 in the experimental) Dutch volunteers (via newspaper adverts) aged between 18-55 years with at least high school education. They were paid around $13.


Experiment 1:

This experiment took place on a University campus. Participant’s were asked to interview applicants (a stooge) for a job. Participants were told the job required the ability to handle stress and that they must therefore cause the applicant stress. They were told by an experimenter to make a series of 15 cutting comments to the interviewees ranging from mild (“Your answer to Question 9 was wrong”) to harsh (“According to the test it would be better for you to apply for lower functions”). The stooges showed signs of increasing distress throughout the interview, appearing to finish in a state of despair. In the experimental condition, the questions were asked in four sets, with no negative comments after the first set in order to establish a baseline and five negative comments were given in each of the remaining three sets. If the participant refused to continue making the stressful comments, they were given four consecutive prods, as with Milgram. In the control group, the participants could choose when to make the negative comments and could stop making them at any time. When they stopped the applicant stopped making errors so tension levels dropped.

Experiment 2:

This was conducted to make comparisons with Milgram’s variation studies - to see if the situation varies levels of obedience. In one condition the experimenter who gave the orders was not present in the room, they gave the orders then left. In another condition there were two peers present who rebelled and did not follow the orders.


Experiment 1:



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