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Levels of obedience shown when participants were told by an authority figure to give another person an electric shock.

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Introduction

Aim: Levels of obedience shown when participants were told by an authority figure to give another person an electric shock.

Method: Quasi Experiment.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Control

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Middle

Unethical

Sample: 40 males, aged 20-50, from New Haven USA, range of occupations

How sample was selected: Newspaper ads and direct mailing. Told they would be paid and would do memory test.

Brief procedure: Carried out at Yale. Volunteer and confederate in waiting room. Experimenter asks them to draw straws, rigged so volunteer always teacher. Volunteer told the other person (learner) is to learn word pairs.

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Conclusion

Practical Implications: Everyone is capable of doing ‘evil’ things because we are too obedient.

Ethics: Protection – participants were upset by their actions. Defence – were debriefed, interviews done 1 year on, no long term damage.Deception: told it was a memory test. Defence – was necessary to gain valid results.Informed consent: wasn’t informed. Defence – couldn’t be informed because of the deception necessary.

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