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Outline and evaluate research into obedience (12)

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Outline and evaluate research into obedience (12) In Milgram's original obedience to authority study, his aims were to set up a situation in which single individuals were ordered to act against a stranger in an inhumane way and to see at what point they would refuse to obey the order. Milgram advertised for male volunteers by placing an advert in a local paper, which offered $4.50 as payment for taking part in a study of 'punishment and learning'. 40 respondents from a range of backgrounds were selected and were told to attend the laboratory in Yale University. They were greeted by the experimenter, and were introduced to a 'supposedly' participant, Mr Wallace, but actually he was a confederate. They were both experienced to a role-assignment but it was rigged so that the real participant was the teacher. The experimenter explained to the teacher that it was his job to teach the learner a series of word pairs and then test their recall. ...read more.


To evaluate, because the experiment was done in a laboratory, all variables are directly manipulated as you have high levels of control. This high level of control also eliminates extraneous variables. Therefore it is possible to establish a cause and effect as it can be easily replicated. However, to counter argue this point, because it was in a laboratory, the participants may try to work out what this experiment is trying to test and act desirably, perhaps to please the researcher. However, one may say that the participants still continued with the experiment even though they were experiencing the high-voltage shocks. One may say that the research lacks ecological validly as it is done in an artificial laboratory and the research can't be generalised out side the context of the research. It also lacks internal validly as his participants could not have been fooled by the experimental set up into thinking that the shocks were real whereas others have argued that the situation in Milgram's laboratory was unlike any situation in real life. ...read more.


According to Milgram, many participants showed signs of nervous tension; especially when administrating high voltage shocks. Another sign of tension was the appearance of nervous laughter. Full blown seizures were observed for 3 participants, one was so violent that the experiment was stopped. However, to counter argue this point, Milgram said that the effects were merely short term and argued that most were 'happy that they had taken part'. Therefore this is in his favour and can be argued as a strength of the research. The right to withdraw was an important issue too. Participants were told that the 'money was theirs' for just coming to the laboratory, however they were not told that they could withdraw at any time. All experiments, in normal research, obeying the BPS guide lines, must tell the participants that they have the right to withdraw during the experiment if experienced to harm. However in here, the experimenter gave three verbal prods which discouraged withdrawal. For example one said "The experiment requires that you continue". Milgram said that this was justified as the order for the participants to continue was the key to the study. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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Response to the question

The candidate here is making good use of their knowledge to answer the question. They appropriately address each command ("Outline" and "Evaluate") and have more than elicited the full 12 marks available, if not more (i.e. written a little too ...

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Response to the question

The candidate here is making good use of their knowledge to answer the question. They appropriately address each command ("Outline" and "Evaluate") and have more than elicited the full 12 marks available, if not more (i.e. written a little too much). My main concern really is that this answer does not appear to have been done under rigorous exam conditions or given the appropriate time limit as the candidate has written, to a great extent, a lot more than what is actually necessary. This will not penalise the candidate in any way, but not practising in exam condition under the allotted time limit is not hugely worthwhile exam preparation.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is fantastic. The candidate writes a great deal about the study (although certain things do need rectifying, e.g. the voltage increments are not specified and the selection of the Teacher and Learner roles is unclear to those who do not already know the process). Other than that, the outline of the study is actually more an in-depth description. There would realistically be about 4-6 marks available here, so the candidate would be looking to mention the aim, the sample, the sampling method, a brief mention of the main procedure, the results and a conclusion. I would argue the mentioning of Mr. Wallace and the role assignment is not necessary to an "Outline", but would be imperative in a "Describe" question.

As for the "Evaluate" section, I would recommend one well-described strength and one well-described limitation of the study or two of each that are less in-depth, given that only 6-8 marks will be awarded here (figure 2/4 marks given for each weakness depending on level of depth; either two in-depth evaluative points or four less detailed ones). As it stands, this candidate has written quite a bit more and so will get the full 12 marks, but whether this essay was written under proper exam conditions is debatable; candidates may naturally find questions like this a lot harder in exam conditions when the clock is against them and the need to be concise is required if the candidate wishes to finish the exam.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is excellent here. The candidate has high control over their use of grammar, punctuation and spelling (even the more complex psychological terminology is spelt correctly, and is applied to their answer appropriately, helping to show the examiner they are competent users of psychological language). The answer flows wonderfully and this naturally helps convey the information the candidate writes more fluently.

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