Milgram (1963 study)

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What was the aim of Milgram's study?
To see if normal people would follow orders and give a potentially harmful electric shock to an innocent person
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What was the sample?
40 males aged 20-60
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What were the results?
100% went up to 300V, 14 stopped up to 375V but the 65% left went all the way
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What was the conclusion drawn from the study?
We are socialised to recognise authority figures and obey their orders, people find it harder to obey people of power
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Sample wasn't diverse so it can't be generalised, there were no females so it lacked population validity
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It was a lab experiment, good controls so it is reliable, replicable and credible
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Can explain why people obey, for example soldiers in Abu Graib who committed horrible inhumane things said that they were "just following orders"
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It was in a lab setting so it lacked ecological validity and also lacked population validity due to the sample, however Hoflings study with doctors and nurses backs up the results
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Very unethical because it caused the participants psychological stress which isn't protecting them from psychological harm, they showed physical signs of being stressed (laughing, fiddling) thus making it unethical
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Experiment 7
Telephonic instructions- Looked at proximity of experimenter, obedience levels dropped to 22.5% and some lied to the experimenter about increasing the voltage but continued to obey when he came back in
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Experiment 10
Run down office block- Looked at effect of setting, same experiment in run down offices, many questioned the credentials of the place, obedience dropped to 48%
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Experiment 13
Ordinary man gives instructions- Looked at effect of status, the participant thought that the experimenter and the learner were both participants as well, yet they were confess, obedience dropped to 20%
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Give 4 factors which increase obedience
1) Closer proximity with experimenter, 2) Higher status of authority figure, 3) Level of personal responsibility, 4) If they undergo gradual commitment
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What was the sample?


40 males aged 20-60

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What were the results?


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What was the conclusion drawn from the study?


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