Milgram: Obedience to authority Flashcards Preview

PSYCH - Social Influence > Milgram: Obedience to authority > Flashcards

Flashcards in Milgram: Obedience to authority Deck (8)
Loading flashcards...


- Milgram (1963) wanted to test the popular hypothesis that 'Germans are different' which formed due to their actions in WW2 especially the Holocaust.
- Most at the time believed German soldiers acted that way purely due to dispositional facts.
- Milgram conducted this study to investigate the level of obedience participants would show when an authority figure tells them to administer lethal electric shocks to another human.


The teacher and learners

- He placed an advert in a newspaper asking for male participants to take part in a study in Yale university which was supposedly about the effects of punishment of learning.
- 40 participants were chosen and were invited to the psychology department in Yale university where they met the experimenter dressed in a white lab coat who was really a confederate.
- There was a learner and teacher and it as made to look like the roles were random.
- Learner was 47 years old with a weak heart names Mr Wallace.



- The participants were told to punish the learner if they made a mistake on a memory test by giving electric shocks that increased by 15V each time.
- Learner was taken to a separate room and the teacher was in an adjacent room with a fake shock machine.
- The max was 450V and each group of 4 switches showed the severity of the shocks ranging from 'Slight shock' to 'Danger: Severe shock'. The final few had XXX on them.
- Participants were prompted to continue by the experiment who told them 'the experiment requires you to continue' and 'you have no choice but to continue'



- ALL participants went up to 300V and 65% went to the max.
- Milgram predicted that only 2% would shock the highest level.
- During the study, participants showed signs of distress such as sweating and nervous laughing.


Strength: Good external validity

- A repeat of the experiment was conducted by another psychologist where 21/22 nurses were willing to administer a patient double the dose of a fake drug when instructed by an apparent doctor over the phone.
- This shows that Zimbardo's study can be applied to more realistic situations
- HOWEVER when this same concept was tested again but with a known drug (Valium) only 2/18 prepared the medicine and they were allowed to consult with other nurses.
- A game show in France called 'Game of Death' tested Milgram's study and 80% went to the max


Weakness: Lacks internal validity

- The experiment was conducted in a lab setting which could have caused participants to show demand characteristics.


Weakness: Ethical issues

- Deception was used as participants didn't know the true nature of the experiment and didn't give informed consent.
- But they had to be deceived to minimise demand characteristics which would make the study less valid.
- They also became extremely psychologically distressed - failed to protect from psychological harm
- Many asked to leave the experiment but experiment but the experimenter prompted them to continue. This violates their right to withdraw.


Weakness: Lack of population validity

- Milgram used a bias sample of 40 male, American volunteers which means we are unable to generalise the results to other populations and cultures.