OBEDIENCE: MILGRAM'S RESEARCH - Coggle Diagram
OBEDIENCE: MILGRAM'S RESEARCH
MILGRAM'S KEY STUDY ON OBEDIENCE (1963)
Milgram recruited 40 male participants through newspaper ads and postal flyers. The ad said he was looking for participants for a memory study
Participants were aged between 20 + 50 years - they were given $4.50 for just turning up
A confederate = 'the learner
True participant = 'the teacher'
An 'experimenter', another confederate, wore a lab coat.
Participants were told they could leave the study at any time
Shocks started at 15 volts (labelled 'slight shock' on the machine) and rose through 30 levels to 450 volts ('danger' - severe shock).
At 300 volts ('intense shock') the learner pounded on the wall and gave no response to the next question
The learner was strapped into a chair in another room + wired with electrodes
The teacher had to give the learner an increasingly severe 'electric 'shock' each time he made a mistake on a task (learning word pairs)
Teachers were not told that the shocks were all fake + that Mr Wallace was an actor
After the 315-volt shock the learner pounded on the wall again but gave no further response
When the teacher turned to the experimenter for guidance, he gave a standard instruction: 'Absence of response should be treated as a wrong answer'
If the teacher felt unsure about continuing, the experimenter used a sequence of 4 standard 'prods'
- 'the experiment requires that you continue'
Prod 3 -
'it is absolutely essential that you continue
- 'please continue' or 'please go on'
- 'you have no other choice, you must go on'
Findings + conclusions
No participant stopped below 300 volts
Five (12.5%) stopped at 300 volts
65% continued to 450 volts
Observations (qualitative data) indicated that participants showed signs of extreme tension; many were seen to 'sweat, tremble, bite their lips, groan and dig their fingernails into their hands'. Three had 'full-blown uncontrollable seizures'
Prior to the study Milgram used 14 psychology students to predict the naive participants' behaviour. They estimated no more than 3% of them would continue to 450 volts. Therefore the findings were unexpected
Participants were debriefed, and assured that their behaviour was normal. In a follow-up questionnaire, 84% reported that they felt glad to have participated. 74% felt they had learned something of personal importance
LACKS INTERNAL VALIDITY
Sheridan + King's (1972)
participants gave real shocks to a puppy, 54% OF MALES + 100% of females delivered what they thought was a fatal shock
Orne + Holland (1968)
suggest participants guessed the electric shocks were fake. So Milgram was not testing what he intended to test (i.e., obedience)
So the obedience in Milgram's study might be genuine, 70% of Milgram's participants believed the shocks were genuine
HAS GOOD EXTERNAL VALIDITY
Hofling et al (1966) found that levels of obedience in nurses on a hospital ward to unjustified demands by doctors were very high (21/22 nurses obeyed)
Therefore the processes of obedience in Milgram's study can b generalised
Milgram argued that the lab-based relationship experimenter + participant reflected wider real-life authority relationships
REPLICATIONS HAVE SUPPORTED MILGRAM'S FINDINGS
80% gave the maximum 450 volts to an apparently unconscious man. Their behaviour was like that of Milgram's participants, e.g., many signs of anxiety
This supports Milgram's original conclusions about obedience to authority and shows that his findings were not just a one-off
In a French documentary contestants in a reality TV game show were paid to give fake electric shocks - when ordered by the presenter - to other participants (actors)