Flashcards in Milgram Deck (14)
What is obedience?
Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purpose. It is the dispositional feature that binds people to systems of authority. It is an active or deliberate form of social influence.
According to Milgram (1992) what does obedience involve?
the 'abdication of individual judgement in the face of some external social pressure'. This means that we do as we are told regardless of what we think about the behaviour that we have been told to carry out.
What does obedience involve?
(a) being ordered or instructed to do something
(b) being influenced by an authority figure of superior status
(c) the maintenance of social power and status of the authority figure in hierarchal society.
A person commanded by a legitimate authority usually obeys (think about student and teacher role) - this is a vital feature of social life. Obedience serves a number of productive functions with the very survival of society depending on its existence.
From 1933-45, millions of innocent people were systematically slaughtered on command. Such inhumane actions may have originated in the mind of one person, but they could only have been carried out on such a massive scale because large numbers of people obeyed. History and observation suggest that for many people obedience is such an ingrained behavioural tendency that it will override training in ethics, empathy and moral values.
Why is this?
This is because, when given extreme commands by legitimate authority figures, subordinates adopt an agentic state where they become the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes. It was believed by some that German society created a population who were more likely than most to obey authority, due to strict discipline within families.
Discuss how the 'germans are different theory' formed an important part of milgram's study and conclusions
The agentic state can account for horrific acts committed in the name of obedience eg the atrocities of WW2, the Balkans conflicts, the atrocities in Rwanda etc. The opposite of the agentic state is the autonomous state, in which people's actions are the result of their own motives and desires.
What happened prior to the study?
14 Yale Seniors (final year students) were provided with a detailed description of the situation. They were asked to reflect carefully on it, and to predict the behaviour of 100 hypothetical participants.
What happened more specifically?
They were instructed to plot the distribution of obedience of '100 Americans of diverse occupations and ranging in age from 20 to 50 years' who were to take part, there was considerable agreement that only a minority would continue to the end (estimates ranged from 0 to 3%, mean was 1.2%)
What was the aim of the study?
The aim of the study was to investigate the process of obedience by testing how far an individual will go in obeying an authority figure, even when the command breaches the moral code that an individual should not hurt another person against his will. It also tested the 'Germans are different' hypothesis.
-No independent variable
The study took place in a laboratory at Yale university so conditions could be controlled e.g who was the teacher/learner, the learner's recorded and thus standardise responses, the experimenter's 'prods'.
How was the data gathered?
Through observations made by both the experimenter who was in the same room as the participant and others who observed the process though one0way mirrors. Most sessions were recorded on magnetic tape, occasional photographs were taken through the one-way mirrors and notes were made on unusual behaviours.
40 male participants aged between 20 and 50 years, from New Haven area were obtained by a newspaper advertisement and direct mail solicitation which asked for volunteers to participate in a study of MEMORY LEARNING (not true aim- fake aim 1) at Yale University.