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Milgram Methodology and Alternative research

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Introduction

A strength of the methodology used by Milgram is that it provided findings with good scientific validity. This is because laboratory experiments provide objective, measurable and quantitative data about obedience to authority and there was a clear independent variable, the order from authority, and a clear dependant variable, the percentage of participants administering each level of shock. This therefore means that the findings and conclusions drawn from the use of this methodology have good internal validity. A further strength of the methodology used by Milgram is that it provided findings that are easy to replicate. This is because an IV, the order from authority, is manipulated to see it's effect on the DV, which would be the percentage of participants administering each level of shock. ...read more.

Middle

If this is the case then the study's internal validity is threatened. Milgram carried out a number of variations to his original procedure. The physical and therefore emotional distance of the teacher from the learner changed levels of obedience. When the participants had to force the learners hands down onto the shock plates, obedience levels dropped from 65% in the original study, to 30%. When the experimenter gave orders to the teacher down the phone, obedience levels dropped even further to 20%. Furthermore, when the experiment was taken to a run down office block, so that it wasn't related to Yale University, obedience levels dropped to approximately 40%. The findings show that location is important in determining obedience, but factors such as the presence of a perceived authority figure are more important. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sheridan and King carried out research that contradicts Orne, and supports the findings of Milgram. They found that 100% of females and 54% of males were willing to administer the full 450 volts to a puppy that they could clearly see. The puppy was an authentic victim, and as it produced similar results to Milgram, it can be argued that Milgram's research wasn't flawed by demand characteristics. Critics argue that the study lacks external validity due to the controlled nature of experiments. Hofling carried out a study in a real life hospital situation and found that 21 out of 22 nurses were willing to administer a potentially lethal dose of a drug called Astroten to patients, just because they had been told to do so by a bogus doctor over the phone. Both studies can be given credit for bringing to our attention the dangers of unquestionable blind obedience. ...read more.

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