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Flashcards in Obedience Deck (38)
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What is the aim of Milgram’s experiment ?

To measure the extent to which people are willing to obey a figure of authority who asks them to do something which conflicts with their personal conscience


What is obedience

A form of social influence in which an individual follows a direct order. The person issuing the order is usually a Figure of authority, who has the power to punish when obedient behaviour is not forthcoming.


Method for Milgram’s experiments

Recruited 40 male participants through newspaper adverts to take part in ‘memory study’.
A confederate called mr Wallace was always the ‘learner’ and true participant was always the ‘teacher’.
Experimenter given orders and wore white lab coat
Learners strapped to a chair in another room and wired with electrodes
Teacher asked to administer an electric shock (15v-450v) to the learner when they gave incorrect answer. If teacher felt unsure to continue the experimenter used a sequence of standardised prods such as “the experiment requires that you continue”


Results for Milgram’s experiment + conclusion

65% of participants continued to the maximum 450v.
All participants 300 volts
Participants showed signs of extreme tension (sweat, tremble, stutter) ans three had full blown uncontrollable seizures.

Ordinary people are astonishingly obedient to authority even when asked to behave in an inhumane manner. This suggests it is not evil people who commit atrocities but ordinary people who are just obeying orders.


Ethical issues with Milgram’s experiment

Milgram’s research had ethical issues
Many participants showed signs of distress. For example it is described that many were seen to sweat, tremble and stutter.
We’re not actually protected from harm as many of them showed psychological stress


Ethical issues - deception

Milgram’s research had ethical issues regarding deception
Real participants believed that the experimenter and the learner were real and that the lbut they were just fake were actually confederates
Participants deceived and believed they were actually causing harm to the learner.


Strength of Milgram’s experiment - replication

Milgram’s findings have been replicated
A 2010s french reality show replicated Milgram’s research.
Participants to administer fake shocks to other participants (actors) ordered by presenter
80% administered to 450 volts.
Results identical to Milgram’s
Shows that Milgram’s research is not a one off occurrence and can be replicated


How did milgram measure uniform

Original experimenter was called away and their role replaced by an ordinary member of the public.
Ordinary member of the public was a confederate
Instead of grey lab coat they wore everyday clothes


Results for uniform variation

Obedience Levels decreased from 65z in the original version to 20% in this particular version - lowest



Baseline study experimenter was legitimate source of authority due to grey lab coat
Supplied shift to agentic state
People less likely to obey if they do not consider a figure of authority to be present
In this case was confederate in everyday clothes


How did milgram alter his experiment to measure effect of proximity

teacher and experimenter were in the same room but learner in separate room
Two variations conducted
Teacher and learner in the same room
Teacher has to force learners hand on shock plate


Explain proximity

As learner and teacher got closer together the more the decrease in obedience
Teacher being more aware of their actions
Greater sense of sympathy
Shifting towards autonomous stage

Obedience levels dropped from 65% to 40%
And in second variation dropped to 30 %


Location variation

Conformity decreased
The building holds less authority
Obedience will not be present

Orginal baseline held at Yale university’s
Variation took place at a run down building


Strength and limitation of uniform variation

Lack of internal validity
Orne Holland and milgram himself suggested participants worked out the procedures
Especially in variation where experimenter was switched to apparent member of public
Results might to be valid as participants might of seen through deception and changed behaviour


Strength of situational explanations of Milgram’s research

Milgram’s research had high control over variables
Lab experiments
Proximity - everything except distance between learner and teacher kept the same
This shows cause and effect as results will be solely due to proximity nothing more


What is agentic state ?

The mental state where we feel no personal responsibility for our behaviour because we believe ourselves to be acting for an authority figure. This frees us from the demands of our conscience and allows us to obey even destructive authority figures


What happens in agentic state

Feels no personal responsibility for their actions


What is autonomous state

Opposite of agentic state
When a person behaves according to their own principles and feels responsibility for their actions


What does legitmacy of authority do ?

Prevents being in autonomous state


Strength of agentic state (PEE)

Strength - supported by Milgram’s research
65% of participants shocked to 450v and 0% stopped before 300
Milgram suggested the experimenter who was in white coat was perceived as authority figure due to social heir-achy.
PPs obeyed and shifted from autonomous to agentic state


Limitation of agentic state (PEE)

Doesn’t account for all behaviour of nazis
Mandel (1998) german Police Shot civilians in a small town in Poland
Weren’t given direct orders just told they could be assigned to other duties if prepared
We’re in their autonomous state as acting own principles yet felts no personal responsibility


What legitimacy of authority

An explanation of obedience which suggests that we are more likely to obey people who we perceive to have authority over us. This authority is justified by individuals position of power within social hierarchy


How is authority legitimate

It is agreed my society


Strength of legitimacy of authority - mai lai

Explains my lai massacre
The soldiers at my lai killed over hundred of innocent civilians.
Their defence was that they were only following orders from a superior.
This implies the soldiers continued their horrific ways because they had an legitimate source of authority doing the same thing so thought it was okay to do as well


Srength of legitimacy of authority

Kilham and Mann (1974) replicated milgram - 16% of pps went top of scale. Mantel (1971) did the same in Germany found that 85% went to top of scale.
In some cultures more than others authority is more often likely to be accepted as legitimate and entitled to obedience
Based on how children in different society raised to perceive authority.


What is authoritarian personality ?

A type of personality that adorno argued was especially susceptible to obeying people in authoity. Submissive to higher status and dismissive of inferiors


What is f scale

Questionnaire designed to measure how authoritarian a person is.


Findings of adorno et el (1950)s study

People with authoritarian leanings scored high on the scale
Identified with strong people
Contemptuous of the weak
Conscious of their own and others status
Prejudice and authoritarianism - positive correlation


Strength of authoritarian personality as explanation of obedience

Research supporting relationship between authoritarian and obedience
Elms and milgram (1966) higher authoritarian levels in 20obedient than 20 disobedient pps
AP could be valid explanation for obedience


Limitation of f scale

Methodological problems with F- scale
All items worded in same direction. Ticking same line of boxes down side of page will give you a high score
A questionnaire may not be valid measure of an authoritarian personality