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Who conducted research into obedience?

Milgram (1963).


What was the procedure of Milgram's study?

- 40 male participants gathered through a newspaper advert.
- Rigged draw for roles - participant = teacher.
- Experimenter in lab coat giving instructions.
- Participants told they could leave the study at any time.
- Teacher required to give progressively severe electric shocks each time the learner made a mistake on a learning task.
- 15v to 450v.
- At 300v the learner pounded the wall and then failed to respond to the remaining questions.
- No response = mistake.
- Prods:
1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.


What were the findings of Milgram's study?

- All participants went to 300v.
- 65% went to 450v.
- Prior to the study, Milgram asked 15 psychology students to predict the outcome, they estimated that 3% would go all the way t 450v.


State 2 positives of Milgram's research.

Good external validity:
- central feature = relationship between authority figure and participant
- Hofling - 21/22
- so can be generalised to other findings
Supporting replication:
- game show - participants believed they were contestants in a pilot episode for a new game show
- paid to administer electric shocks when told to by presenter
- 80% went to 460v


State 2 criticisms of Milgram's research.

Low internal validity:
- Orne and Holland - participants guessed shocks were fake
- BUT - Sheridan and King - similar study on puppies
- males 54%, females 100%
Ethical issues:
- deception


What were the 3 situational variables Milgram tested?



What was the proximity variation?

1. Teacher and learner in same room - 40%
2. Teacher had to force the learners hand onto an electroshock plate when he refused to answer - 30%
3. Experimenter left room and gave instructions over the phone - 20.5%


What was the location variation?

- Conducted study in a run-down building.
- Obedience = 47.5%


What was the uniform variation?

- Experimenter called away because of an inconvenient call at the start of the procedure - replaced by an ordinary member of the public in everyday clothes.
- Obedience = 20%


State a criticism of the situational variation studies.

Lack internal validity:
- Orne and Holland
- Member of public variation
- So unclear whether results are genuinely due to the operation of obedience of because they saw through the deception and acted accordingly.


State 3 positives of the situational variation studies.

Research support:
- Bickman
- 3 confederates: jacket and tie, milkman, security guard
- asked members of the public to do tasks
- people twice as likely to do task if it was the security guard uniform than jacket and tie
Cross cultural replication:
- Miranda
- Spanish students - 90%
- apply cross culturally and to females too
Control of variables:
- systematically altered the variable one at a time
- more than 1000 participants
- other variables and procedures kept the same


What are the 2 explanations for obedience?

Agentic state
Legitimacy of authority


What is an agentic state?

A mental state where we feel no personal responsibility for our behaviour because we believe ourselves to be acting for an authority figure.
An agent will experience high anxiety when they realise what they are doing is wrong but feel powerless to disobey.


What is an autonomous state?

We feel free of others influences and so take responsibility for our actions.


What is an agentic shift?

- Autonomous - agent.
- Because we perceive someone else to be an authority figure entitled to expect obedience.
- Greater power because of position in social hierarchy.


What are binding factors?

Aspects of the situation that allow the person to ignore or minimise the damaging effect of their behaviour and thus reduce moral strain.


State a positive of 'agentic state' as an explanation for obedience.

Research support:
- Blass and Schmitt
- showed students film of Milgram's study and asked them to identify who they felt was responsible for harm to the learner
- all identified experimenter
- responsibility due to legitimate authority - experimenter = top of hierarchy


State a negative of 'agentic state' as an explanation for obedience.

Limited explanation:
- doesn't explain why some participants didn't obey
- Hofling - agentic state suggests that the individual understood their role in a destructive process
- not the case so agentic shift can only account for some situations of obedience


What is legitimacy of authority as an explanation for obedience?

- We are more likely to obey people who we perceive to have authority over us. This authority is justified by the individuals position of power within a social hierarchy.
- Power to punish, we obey authority out of fear of punishment.


State 2 positives of 'legitimacy of authority' as an explanation for obedience.

Cultural difference:
- Kilham and Mann - Australia - 16% went to 450v
- Mantel - Germany - 85%
- shows in some cultures authority is more likely to be accepted as legitimate
- increases validity
Real-life crimes of obedience:
- My Lai massacre


What is a dispositional explanation for obedience?

Authoritarian personality


Who conducted research into the authoritarian personality?



What was the procedure of Adorno's research?

- Investigated the causes of obedience personality in a study of 2000 middle class white Americans and their unconscious attitudes towards other racial groups.
- Developed multiple scales, e.g. F scale which measured the potential for facism.


What were the findings of Adorno's research?

- High F scale participants = strong authoritarian leadings identified with strong people and were generally contemptuous of the weak.
- Showed excessive respect for those of higher status.
- Very distinctive and fixed stereotypes about other groups.


What are the characteristics of an authoritarian personality?

- Tendency to be especially obedient to authority.
- Extreme respect for authority and are submissive to it.
- Show contempt to people they perceive as having inferior social status.
- Inflexible in their outlook.


What did Adorno suggest were the origins of authoritarian personality?

- Formed i childhood as a result of harsh parenting.
- Harsh parenting = conditional love, extremely strict discipline, impossibly high standards and severe criticism of perceived failings.
- This creates feelings of resentment and hostility that the child cannot express towards the parents so is displaced onto others who are perceived as weaker.


State 3 criticisms of the dispositional explanation of authoritarian personality as an explanation for obedience.

Limited explanation:
- pre-war Germany, unlikely everyone had an authoritarian personality
- social identity instead
Correlation not causation:
- authoritarianism strongly correlated with measures of prejudice against minority groups
Methodological issues:
- acquiesence bias - tendency to agree with items on a questionnaire despite their content
- Jackson and Messick - pos correlation