• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent can the validity of obedience research be defended?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent can the validity of obedience research be defended? Obedience is prevalent in everyday life. For example, we obey the doctor by taking the recommended prescription, trusting that he or she is the expert and knows best. Usually, problems do not arise as a result of this, although it is said that the desirability of obeying authority correlates to how reasonable the commands are. Milgram and Hofling et al. in particular investigated obedience using various authority figures to give commands to the participants. They aimed to determine the extent to which people would obey, despite the consequences of their actions. While the studies produced conclusive results, it is important to consider the validity of the research, both ecological and experimental. Ecological validity refers to the validity of the research outside the research situation itself, as in how well the findings would generalise to everyday situation. Experimental validity on the other hand, refers to the extent to which research has internal (whether the experiment measured out what it set to do) and external validity (how well the findings generalise to other settings, both ecological and temporal). ...read more.


They were also paid and this would give them extra incentive to continue, as well as making the commands more reasonable (they were rewarded) and obedience more likely. These factors decrease the experimental validity of Milgram's research (1974) as the participants had extra encouragement to obey the orders and variables affecting their behaviour (such as feeling as if they 'have to' take part in the experiment). Milgram defended the study by commenting that this was what real life was like. As for the ecological validity of this study, some would say it is not particularly high because the experiment was carried out in a laboratory and not in an everyday (real-life) environment. However, Milgram's obedience study was replicated world wide and results support high ecological validity. Leonard Bickman, 1974, conducted a similar study to Milgram's but in a more realistic setting. Three experimenters dressed differently, either wearing a sports coat and tie, or milkman's/guard's uniform and they selected random pedestrians in Brooklyn, New York, asking them one of three varying orders. Bickman found that the participants were more likely to obey the experimenter dressed as a guard than the milkman or civilian, supporting Milgram's finding that obedience can be related to the amount of perceived authority and the ecological validity of his study. ...read more.


Shockingly, 21 of the 22 nurses in the study obeyed "Dr. Smith" and were willing to give the 20mg dose of Astrogen. The ecological validity of this experiment was undeniably high since the findings would directly generalise with everyday situations, especially as the study was conducted in the primary environment that the situation would be found in. It was a real-life experiment. Situations with similar authority figures could include a policeman ordering a citizen to break the law, since the citizen would recognise the authority of the policeman and would probably agree to their orders, despite the implications of doing so. The nurses in Hofling's study recognised that the dosage they were told to administer was above the maximum, but because the doctor has more knowledge of medicine and a sense of authority over the nurses, they obeyed. Thus the commands of the doctor, in spite of breaking rules, seemed more reasonable to the nurses. As for the experimental validity of Hofling's study, the nurses never questioned the authenticity of the Dr. Smith, thus indicating that they believed he was a real doctor and behaved as they would in a non-experimental situation. This would indicate high experimental validity, however, replications of Hofling's study by Rank and Jacobsen (1977) for example, have failed. Michelle Lockwood ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Psychometrics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Psychometrics essays

  1. Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative approaches to research

    The term grounded theory is used to describe the inductive process of identifying analytical categories as they emerge from the data which is what the study by Wilkens et al. (2006) used. Winkens et al. (2006) used semi-structured interviews to collect their data.

  2. Cerebral asymmetry- To what extent is brain function lateralized

    Split-brain patients are patients who have undergone corpus callosotomy (usually as a treatment for severe epilepsy), a severing of a large part of the corpus callosum. The two hemispheres of the brain are connected by the corpus callosum allowing them to communicate.

  1. In an attempt to solve both these problems two experiments will be conducted, one ...

    Due to the fact that there is evidence for both flashbulb memories and repression, a two-tailed hypothesis will be more appropriate as preliminary research has shown that although ecological validity is likely to have some effect, it is unclear as to what this will be (whether it will increase or decrease recall.)

  2. Conformity and Obedience

    (P389, Gross, 2002) There are a number of specific symptoms of groupthink, including an illusion of invulnerability, an unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group which can lead to the ignorance of ethical and moral issues. Also there is strong pressure on individual's to conform and reach consensus.

  1. The aim of this study is to establish a link between depression and a ...

    If this is true, then disordered eating and eating disorder symptomatology are likely to have a social basis. People have learned these destructive actions and thought patterns from our own culture and as a result figures of obesity in the UK and USA are rising.

  2. Qualitative approaches in mass media research

    For example, in Sykes' study of one prison he recognised a system of roles at work within the prison. Kassebaum, Ward and Wilner, however, concluded from their study that such a system did not exist. Both studies were using qualitative techniques to research the same broad area and yet came

  1. Do Milgram's experiment's tell us anything about why people obey authority outside the laboratory?

    The general idea was to reflect the type of person that would have been committing the murders in Germany. Adverts were posted in local newspapers to encourage people to take part. Participants would be paid $4 per hour plus 50c for travel costs.

  2. This study is a partial replication of a study by Bransford and Johnson (1972) ...

    They characterised memory as a flow of information through a system. Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed that external stimuli from the environment first enter the 'sensory memory' where it can be registered for a brief period of time before either decaying or being passed on to the 'short-term' store.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work