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Outline and evaluate research into obedience

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________________ Outline and evaluate research into obedience (12 marks) Obedience is complying with an order from another person to carry out an action. Many studies have been conducted into looking at obedience in people and what factors in a situation lead people to obey. Milgram (63) conducted a study to find out whether ordinary Americans would obey an unjust order from a person in authority to inflict pain on another person. Milgram gained a volunteer sample of 40 males from a range of backgrounds who were each paid $4.50 and were deceived into thinking they were giving electric shocks. The participants were told the study concerned the role of punishment in learning. The participant had the role of a teacher and a confederate played the learner. He had to memorize pairs of words. The teachers role was to administer a shock every time the learner made a mistake. The teacher had 30 levers each indicated the level of shock to be given. The participant watched the confederate being strapped into the electric chair. ...read more.


This study has many ethical issues that need to be taken into consideration. The study did not gain fully informed consent; therefore the participants were deceived and were not told the nature of the experiment. They were told the study concerned the role of punishment in learning and did not know it had anything to do with obedience. The participants were put under huge amounts of stress which could have caused some serious psychological damage. Participants were not allowed to withdraw from the experiment, this put pressure on them to continue with giving the shocks even if they did not want to. The study gained lots of qualitative data, Milgram was able to operationalize obedience and form consistent increments of shocks given. He used standard procedures in which he recorded screams, used scripted ?rods? and ensured participants were exposed to similar conditions. However the study was in a lab setting measuring obedience in a systematic and controlled way. Milgram asked the participants to be there, they were not naturally occurring, this means the study has low ecological validity and cannot be generalised to other real life settings. ...read more.


carried out a field experiment in New York in which he asked people on the street to pick up rubbish, stand on the other side of bust stop sign or lend a stranger money for a parking meter. Half of the time, the experimenter wore a uniform and the other half just normal clothes. This formed the 2 conditions of the independent variable. 92% of people obeyed the orders when he wore a uniform. This study has low population validity as his sample is ethnocentric, people are from New York. This response in obedience may be different in different countries. There are ethical issues in that the participants didn?t know they were in research however this would have lowered the demand characteristics and increased internal validity. The study had good ecological validity as it was conducted in a naturally occurring setting with naturally occurring participants who jut happened to be there at that time. However there would have been large individual differences with people off the street, some might have different personality types that obey more than others to people in uniform. Some people may have personality types that never obey to people even if they are in a uniform. Olivia Compton Psychology 13/02/2012 ...read more.

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The writer has mentioned two obedience studies for this piece of work. However, there are other experiments that the writer may want to include in order to improve the rating. For example, Hofling's experiment should also be included. Milgram's experiment has been explained well and the writer has included some very good critical points too. The second experiment has less detail and needs to be expanded upon.

Rating 3*

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 05/09/2013

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