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Consider whether the findings from social influence research (e.g. Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo) can justify the methods used to obtain such findings

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Introduction

Consider whether the findings from social influence research (e.g. Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo) can justify the methods used to obtain such findings (18 marks) Forty male volunteers from a self selected sample took part in a controlled observational study, which they were deceived into thinking was a test of learning. The na�ve participant was always assigned the role of 'teacher' and a confederate played the role of 'learner'. A word association test was the learning task, and the na�ve participant was instructed to deliver an electric shock to the learner for each incorrect answer. The teacher and the learner were in separate rooms with no voice contact. The learner sitting in another room gave mainly wrong answers and received his fake shocks in silence until they reached 300 volts. ...read more.

Middle

For example, they trembled, sweated, stuttered, groaned and dug their fingernails into their flesh. There were many ethical issues raised in this study, for example the lack of informed consent, deception and debriefing. The participants were deceived about the nature of the study. Milgram told his participants that they were involved in a study of the effects of punishment on learning. This therefore denied them the right to provide informed consent. At the end of the study they were debriefed about its true purpose ad introduced to the confederate to be reassured that all was well. However Milgram argued that the experiment would be meaningless without some degree of deception. Deception was vital for the internal validity of the study. ...read more.

Conclusion

The third ethical issue that Milgram's study faced was psychological harm. Baumrind attacked Milgram's study for the severe distress it created. Milgram defended himself in many ways. First, he did not know, prior to the study, that such high levels of distress would be caused. Second he asked participants afterwards if they had found the experience distressing and interviewed them again a year later, 84% felt glad to have participated and 74% felt they had learned something of personal importance. However, Freudians would predict that this is the response we would get. Participants are likely to find some way of explaining their behaviour, such as saying hey were glad to have taken part. Third, Milgram suggested that it may be the findings of his study that are objectionable and cause discomfort rather that the ethics of the study itself. ...read more.

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