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. If an error was made in the answer, an electric shock was made, starting from 15V working upwards each time. As the shocks became higher, the learner screamed and became more dramatic, and complained of a weak heart at around 180V. The participants showed signs of extreme tension, even showing nervous laughing fits, but they were still told to ‘please go on’ even though they didn’t want to continue.

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Along side that, when the teacher refused and objected to the procedure as the learner screamed, the experimenter said “This experiment requires that you continue, teacher” and that they “have no choice”. So effectively, the experimenter manipulated the teacher to go on subtly by language. Fourteen oout of forty showed nervous laughing fits and they repeatedly argued with the experimenter but still continued to obey.

Milgram found that all 40 participants went to 300V on the shock generator and 65 percent administered the maximum shock of 450V. This finding was as shocking to Milgram as it was ...

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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.

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.

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.