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Psychology - Milgram's study was carried out was the horrifying events of the Second World War.

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Introduction

PSYCHOLOGY MILGRAM ESSAY The context against which Milgram's study was carried out was the horrifying events of the Second World War and in particular the slaughtering of the millions of Jews and homosexuals by the Nazi Germans under the authority of Hitler. Many of these Nazis were put on trial and their defence was that they were following orders. But, their defence was rejected, and many were hanged. People believed their cruel behaviour was part of their German character. Milgram was keen to find out why the Germans were particularly obedient and questioned the idea that it was their German character but rather the situation. This prompted Milgram to conduct an experiment to test the effect social pressure has on obedience, where social pressure is how others influence a person's actions and obedience is whether a person will follow the demands of authority. One of the main strengths of the way in which the study was carried out in relation to its context was the recreation of a situation realistic to the context of the experiment. ...read more.

Middle

This is shown by the fact that the subjects were given various psychometric measures to check if they were alright, a follow up survey showed the majority were glad to have been in the experiment and an examination of the subjects by a psychiatrist a year later showed there were no signs of long term harm. One of the weaknesses of the experiment was that the experiment did bring about stress to the subjects and caused tension at the time. An example of this is that in the course of the experiment some subjects were sweating, trembling, stuttering, biting lips, and digging nails into their flesh, which are common signs of nervousness. This was unethical and breaks the 'protection of the subjects' law. In relation to the context of the study, it is worth noting that the Nazi execution squads were given extra rations of alcohol probably to counter the stress of their terrible acts would have produced in themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

The situation would be more realistic to the subjects, improving the validity of the results because the experiment is taking place in a naturalistic environment, not in a lab and the subjects are not aware it is an experiment hence they would not conform to demand characteristics. This would mean that the subjects would not act differently and the results would be more reliable. It would also make the experiment more ethical because it would not bring stress to the subjects as the orders they are following are not bringing harm to anyone else and so they would not feel guilty. However this would limit conclusions in relation to the context of the experiment since it would not be assessing if the subjects were willing to bring harm in the course of being obedient as the Germans had done but this would be difficult to achieve without breaking ethics. Overall the change to the experiment would make the experiment more valid and ethical. ...read more.

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