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Outline two studies of obedience and consider whether they show external validity.

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Outline two studies of obedience and consider whether they show external validity. External validity is the validity of an experiment outside the research situation itself, the extent to which the findings of a research study are applicable to other situations especially everyday situations. Milgram's study on electric shocks and learning offers support for external validity in obedience experiments. Milgram conducted his study at Yale University with 40 male participants aged between 20 and 50. A confederate of the experimenter was always the learner and the participant the teacher. The teacher had to administer shocks to the learner every time they gave an incorrect answer and the intensity of the shocks increased on each occasion. One of the strongest criticisms of Milgrams research was the belief that as it was carried out in laboratory conditions it had low ecological or external validity. ...read more.


The study is claimed to have experimental realism as participants engaged fully with the situation. This is supported with the case of Pasqual Gino who continued all the way to 450 volts believing the learner to be dead. Milgrams original studies were carried out in the United States , however research across cultures carried out by Smith and Bond found similar findings of obedience thus offering support that the results are generalisable and that Milgrams study had high ecological validity. Obedience was 65% in America and when later studies were carried out in Italy , Spain , Germany , Austria and Holland obedience had risen to 80%. However key aspects of the procedure varied from one culture to another so despite the high obedience rates it is difficult to interpret the cross cultural difference in obedience. ...read more.


It can be concluded that the obedience in Hofling's study was due to historical differences. In 1974 when the study was carried out nurses were trained not to question a doctors judgement and since then changing cultural norms has meant the same levels of obedience are not found. Despite Hoflings field experiment failing to be replicated support for the ecological validity of Milgram's work in a realistic setting was provided to Bickman who found participants were more likely to obey experimenter dressed as a guard than a milkman or civilian. This supports one of the variations of Milgrams findings that obedience can be related to the amount of perceived authority. However, Bickmans study differs from Milgram's in that the orders made by the experiments were not as unreasonable as in Milgram's study and thus obedience is more understandable. ...read more.

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