The Milgram Experiment

1302 words 6 pages
Stanley Milgram: 'electric shock' experiments (1963) - also showed the power of the situation in influencing behaviour. 65% of people could be easily induced into giving a stranger an electric shock of 450V (enough to kill someone). 100% of people could be influenced into giving a 275V shock.
The Milgram Experiment
Stanley Milgram (1963)
Experiment: Focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience.
Investigate: Whether Germans were particularly obedient to authority figures as this was a common explanation for the Nazi killings in World War II.
Milgram selected participants for his experiment by advertising for male participants to take part in a study of learning at Yale University. The procedure was
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| * Milgram’s experimenter wore a laboratory coat (a symbol of scientific expertise) which gave him a high status. * But when the experimenter dressed in everyday clothes obedience was very low. * The uniform of the authority figure can give them status. | Peer Support | Proximity of Authority Figure | * Peer support – if a person has the social support of their friend(s) then obedience is less likely. * Also the presence of others who are seen to disobey the authority figure reduces the level of obedience. This happened in Milgram’s experiment when there was a “disobedient model”. | * Authority figure distant: It is easier to resist the orders from an authority figure if they are not close by. When the experimenter instructed and prompted the teacher by telephone from another room, obedience fell to 20.5%. * When the authority figure is close by then obedience is more likely. |

Methodological Issues
The Milgram studies were conducted in laboratory type conditions and we must ask if this tells us much about real-life situations. We obey in a variety of real-life situations that are far more subtle than instructions to give people electric shocks, and it would be interesting to see what factors operate in everyday obedience. The sort of situation Milgram investigated would be more suited to a military context.

Milgram's sample was biased: The


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