How far are you willing to obey? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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How far are you willing to obey?

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  1. Miss lessons Hit a stranger Hand over money Lie on the pavement Steal something Stand on one leg Kill a stranger A friend A teacher A policeman A man in a lab coat The headmaster A stranger A man in an army uniform A sports coach How far are you willing to obey?

  2. Obedience • A type of social influence • To act in response to a direct order from a figure with perceived authority. • Who in our society has perceived authority (i.e. who’s orders would you follow without question?)

  3. Stanley Milgram(1963) • Is obedience bad? “Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living.” “…from 1933-1945 millions of innocent persons were systematically slaughtered on command…These inhumane policies may have originated in the mind of a single person, but they could only be carried out on a massive scale if a very large number of people obeyed orders. Stanley Milgram

  4. Context • Milgram was interested in destructive obedience where orders are obeyed even though the individual understands the negative consequences. • Concentration camps

  5. Context • Adolf Eichmann • Oversaw the deaths of 6 million Jews • He had only been “following orders.” • Many other Nazi’s who stood trial also gave the same defence.

  6. Context • Political theorist Hannah Arendt observed Eichmann's trial • “It would have been comforting indeed to believe that Eichmann was a monster…The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were and still are terribly and terrifyingly normal.” • What implications does this have?

  7. Context • The “Germans are Different” hypothesis • Germans have an authoritarian personality • Hostile to people of a lower status • Being servile to those of a higher status • Uphold the norms of society and are intolerant of anything different

  8. Aims • Milgram wanted to test the “Germans are different” hypothesis. • He believed obedience could be explained by dispositional, rather than situational factors. • By creating a controlled environment, he could assess obedience. He could then alter variables to see what effect they had on obedience.

  9. Procedure: • Volunteers were recruited for a lab experiment investigating “learning” (re: ethics: deception).  Participants were 40 males, aged between 20 and 50, whose jobs ranged from unskilled to professional. • At the beginning of the experiment they were introduced to another participant, who was actually a confederate of the experimenter (Milgram).  They drew straws to determine their roles – leaner or teacher – although this was fixed and the confederate always ended to the learner. There was also an “experimenter” dressed in a white lab coat, played by an actor (not Milgram). • The “learner” (Mr. Wallace) was strapped to a chair in another room with electrodes. After he has learned a list of word pairs given him to learn, the "teacher" tests him by naming a word and asking the learner to recall its partner/pair from a list of four possible choices.


  11. The teacher is told to administer an electric shock every time the learner makes a mistake, increasing the level of shock each time. There were 30 switches on the shock generator marked from 15 volts (slight shock) to 450 (danger – severe shock). • The learner gave mainly wrong answers (on purpose) and for each of these the teacher gave him an electric shock. When the teacher refused to administer a shock and turned to the experimenter for guidance, he was given the standard instruction /order (consisting of 4 prods): • Prod 1: please continue. • Prod 2: the experiment requires you to continue. • Prod 3: It is absolutely essential that you continue. • Prod 4: you have no other choice but to continue.

  12. Findings • Beforehand, Milgram discussed his experiment with both a group of psychology majors, and a number of colleagues. He asked them to estimate how many participants would administer the full 450volts. They estimated ___ to __%. 0 3

  13. Quantitative data • The minimum shock given was 300v. • This was when the learner started to protest • 5 participants (12.5%) went no further • 26 participants (65%) gave the full 450V

  14. More quantitative data 84 • ____%were glad/very glad to take part • ____% were neutral about having taken part • ____% were very sorry to have taken part • ____% said more experiments like this should be carried out • ____% they had learned something of personal importance. 15 2 80 74

  15. Conclusions • What is the main conclusion? • Ordinary people are shockingly obedient to destructive orders. • In certain situations, people would kill a stranger • The situation caused people do be highly obedient. • Emotional consequences

  16. 13 Factors of obedience • Match up the sentence ends with the sentence starts

  17. Methodology • Propaganda! • In two teams, evaluate the study with regards to strengths and weaknesses • Produce a poster which sums up your key arguments

  18. Prep for Tuesday • With reference to alternative evidence. critically assess Milgram’s study (12) (AO2) • You need to compare the results of Milgram’s study with alternative evidence • You need at least one piece of evidence which supports/develops Milgram’s findings, and one which contradicts. • If there are any weaknesses with Milgram’s study, has alternative research addressed this?

  19. Alternative Evidence • Sheridan and King (1972) • Small puppy was used as the victim - real electric shocks. Puppy was in the same room, and could be seen yelping as the shocks were administered • 75% of participants administered the highest shocks. Women obeyed more than the men. • What does this suggest?

  20. Alternative Evidence • Hoffling et al (1966) • Nurses phoned by a “Dr Smith”, asked to give 20mg of a fictional drug called Astrogen to a patient. Contravened hospital regulations and the dosage was twice that of what was advised on the bottle. • 21 out of 22 (95%) of nurses carried out the order. • Milgram’s study may have lacked ecological validity. What do the results of this experiment suggest?

  21. Alternataive Evidence • Rank and Jacobson (1977) • Replicated Hoffling, but used the real drug Valium, and nurses were allowed to consult with their peers. • 16 out of 18 (89%) refused to obey. • With reference to Milgram’s conclusions, how can we explain this result?

  22. Alternative Evidence • Milgram (1974) • 18 variations on the original study • Experimenter absent: the experimenter left the room, giving instructions over the phone. Obedience dropped to 21% • Presence of allies: two other ‘teachers’ in the room (actually confederates of the study) who disobeyed the experimenter. Obedience dropped to 10%. • Proximity: The learner was in the same room as the teacher. Obedience dropped to 40% • What can you conclude from this evidence?

  23. Alternative Evidence • Reserve Police Battalion 101 • Carried out a mass killing of Jews in a small town. • Soldiers were allowed to refuse. Trapp was not present during the killing, the battalion were face to face with their victims, and some in the battalion disobeyed. • However, most obeyed the orders. • This was a real life case of obedience. What factors should have reduced the obedience?