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Otline and Evaluate Research Into Obedience

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By lionwalker12
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Milgram devised his psychological research three months after the start of Adolf Eichmann`s trail to investigate if it was possible for people to go against their values because someone in higher authority told them to do so. The aim of the experiment was to investigate what level of obedience would be shown when participants were told by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another person.
Milgram used 40 male participants who were recruited through a newspaper and direct mail advertisement. Each participant was told the aim of the experiment was to see how punishment affected memory. There were two roles in the study, the teacher and the student. The naive participant and a confederate due a slip of paper from a hat which allocated them to their role, but it were rigged so that the naive participant was always the teacher whilst the confederate was the student. The learner and the teacher where taken to the experimental room as the method for this study was a lab experiment. The learner was strapped to an electric chair where the electric shocks can be administered. The experimenter then advised them that the shocks can be extremely painful, but o permanent tissue damage. The next stage involved the teacher testing the learner by giving him one of the words in a pair along with four other words and the learner had to indicate the original word had been paired. The learner`s answer was communicated electronically to the teacher who was in the opposite room, if the answer was wrong the teacher had to tell them the correct answer and then the level of electrical shock they were told to give, for every subsequent incorrect answer the teacher had to increase the dosage of electrical shock.
The results of the study showed that over half of the subjects about 65% went all the way with the electric shocks. Only 25.5% stopped at 300 volts. During the study many participants were nervous and tense. They sweated, trembled and stuttered and other signs of anxiety. Milgram then concluded that under certain circumstances, most people will obey orders that go against their conscience. He also states that atrocities such as those carried out in World War II may be largely explained in terms of pressure to obey a powerful authority.
The strengths of the method are that it had high control and it is easy to replicate so it is reliable. The data is easily analysed as it was quantitative so they said how many participants opted for the high voltage shocks. The study also showed that situations affected behaviour as well as authoritative figures. The weaknesses are that it has low ecological validity because it was a lab experiment, in addition only a sample of US males were used do it is not very representative of everyone. The study was also ethnocentric because he conducted it on American men so cannot be used to generalise or represent the general population. The study also has some ethical issues, it is possible by being involved in the study the participants might have had a long-term damage psychologically as they would have a different perception of themselves as not being willing to harm another person. It therefore can be argued that he didn’t take adequate stops to prevent any harm coming to his participants.…...

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