Milgram’s study of obedience

What was the main background event which caused the study?
Hitler’s holocaust

What did Milgram want to investigate?
He wanted to question this idea of a dispositional attribution.

What did Milgram believe causes such acts?
He believed it was the situation (situational attribution)

What was the aim?
to investigate what levels of obedience would be shown when participants were told by an authority figure to administer electric shocks to another.

How many participants? What gender?
40 males

What was the age range?
20-50 years

Where were they from?
New Haven

How did they advertise the experiment?
-direct mail

What did the say the study was about?
memory and learning

Where did it take place?
Yale university

Who were the participants?
A mixture of professions from teachers to engineers

Were they given money?
$4.50 for arriving

How many switches were there on the generator? What were they between?
30 switches, 15v and 450v

What genuine shock were the participants given?

Who was the experimenter?
31 year old biology teacher

Who was the victim?
Mr Wallace, 47 year old accountant (likeable)

What do they tell the participants about experiment?
They know nothing on effect of punishment on learning

How do they pick who is learner?
They pull names out of hat, it is rigged

What line does the person say as the learner is being strapped to the chair?
Although the shocks can be extremely painful, they cause no permanent tissue damage.

How does the teacher test the learner? (4 steps)
-reads a series of words to learner
-asks learner to learn them
-teacher then reads four words, 1 being right
-learner would press 1/4 switches

How much was the voltage increased each time?

What was the average ration of incorrect to correct answers?
3 incorrect to 1 correct

At which point did the learner first make a vocal response?

At what voltage did they shout and bang on the wall?

How many prods were there?

At which point did the learner go silent again?

What was the 1st prod?
Please continue

What was the 2nd prod?
This experiment requires you to continue

What was the 3rd prod?
It is absolutely essential that you continue

What was the 4th prod?
You have no other choice, you must go on

What is an agentic shift? When does it happen in the experiment?
The removal of responsibility. When the experimenter says the 4th prod.

What is a defiant participant?
A participant that breaks off before 450v

What is an obedient participant?
A participant that goes all the way to 450v

How were the teachers de-briefed? (2 details)
– ask questions after to check there was no harm to them
-re-united with the learner

What percentage gave the FULL SHOCK?

What were many participants seen to do at the halt of the experiment?(2)
-sigh with relief
-shake heads

How did the participants show signs of nervousness? (5)
-bit lips
-dug nails into flesh

How many participants had nervous laughing fits?

How many participants went to 450V?

How many participants went to 300v?

What was the average that they rated the painfulness of the shocks on a 14 point scale?

Name some of the reasons why people were so obedient? (THERE ARE 9)
-The fact it was in Yale- a credible and prestigious university
-the experiment was for a worthy purpose
-they had volunteered so felt the obligation to
-the victim also volunteered so felt less bad
-they were being paid so felt they had to
-the learner/teacher role was assigned randomly so they felt less guilty
-they didn’t know the rights to withdraw
-they had been told that the shocks were not damaging
-they had already gone to 300v and showed willingness

When tried out in a run-down office what percentage was the obedience rate?

Was it ethical?

What was the problem with the study?
It was unrepresentative as there was ethnocentric and gender bias

Was it ecologically valid? Why?
No, it took place in a laboratory- unnatural environment.

What was Milgram’s conclusion:
It is the situation a person is in rather than their personality.

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