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Methodological Evaluation of Milgram & Hoflings Studies

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Methodological Evaluation of Milgram & Hofling's Studies Milgram's study (1963) was designed to test the 'Germans are different' hypothesis, to see if ordinary men would obey and order that would involve another human being hurt. Hofling's study (1966) was also designed to test obedience, but used female nurses who were unaware that they were being experimented on as his subjects rather than men. There are many criticisms of both studies, particularly based around the external validities of the experiments. An experiment is externally valid if its findings can be generalised beyond the specific situation of the experiment. Milgram's study lacks ecological validity/mundane realism; most people do not find themselves in total control of other peoples' lives in the same way that they were in this experiment everyday. ...read more.


The situation in which they are tested is a normal one which they will have become used to in their daily jobs, increasing the reliability of the experiment and its ecological validity. There have also been criticisms of both experiments with regards to their internal validities. Internal validity is the extent to which the study is valid within itself i.e. were the results due to experimenter manipulation of other factors (confounds)? Milgram's study in particular was likely to have been influenced by 'demand characteristics', where participants act in a certain way based on what they feel was expected of them, changing their behaviour to conform to the experimenter's expectations. ...read more.


behaviour in accordance to what they perceived the examiner's expectations to be, suggesting that it had higher internal validity and will not have been affected by 'demand characteristics'. However, the experimenter did assume the identity of an unknown doctor, Dr Smith. This may have influenced the reactions of the nurses in a way that wouldn't have necessarily been the case, had they knew the doctor they were dealing with. Furthermore, the obedience of the nurses can be put down to the fact that during the time in which the experiment was carried out, nurses were taught to obey doctors' orders and never to question them. For this reason, the nurses responses can be said to have been influenced by 'demand characteristics'. ...read more.

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