Conformity and Obedience

Topics: Psychology, Shock, Stanford prison experiment Pages: 5 (1770 words) Published: April 21, 2013
Conformity and Obedience Assignment

In this assignment I intend to evaluate Stanley Milgrams studies of obedience and in particular the ethical issues broken. I hope to determine whether the knowledge gained justifies his experiments. After the destruction and atrocities committed in World War II many historians argued that there must be some sort of character defect that made the German people more obedient. Mailgram’s study was an attempt to test ‘the Germans are different’ hypothesis. The hypothesis states that Germans are more likely a person or people in authority regardless of what the act is. (Social psychology handbook pg.8) Milgram conducted an experiment into the nature of obedience in 1963 at the prestigious Yale University. The aim of the experiment was to investigate the level of obedience participant would go to in giving electric shocks to another person when ordered to by an authority figure. (Social psychology handbook pg.8) Milgram issued an advertisement in a local paper requesting people aged 20-50 from all walks of life, excluding students to take part in an experiment at Yale University. The experiment would last an hour and the pay was four dollars fifty. The participants were told they were getting paid for coming to the laboratory regardless of the results of the experiment. (Gross, 2010, pg. 416) 40 male participants were selected; they arrived at Yale university psychology department and were greeted by a young man dressed in a lab coat. He introduced himself as Jack Williams, the experimenter. He was to appear stern and emotionless throughout the experiment. There was also another participant introduced as a likeable and mild-mannered man named Mr Wallace, he was a confederate and everything from here on has been pre-planned except the results of course. (Gross, 2010, pg. 416) The participant were given a short introduction and told the aim of the experiment was to assess the effects of punishment on learning. The participant was then asked to pick a piece of paper out a hat to determine who would be playing the role of the teacher, and who was to play the learner. This was rigged in order for the experiment to work; Mr Wallace was always the learner and the participant the teacher. Next they were all led into an adjoining room and the learner (Mr Wallace) was strapped in full view of the participant into the electric chair and electrodes were attracted to his arms and legs. The teacher (the participant) was told that the electrodes were attracted to the shock generator next room. The generator was a convincing fake created by Milgram. The participant and the experimenter went into the next room where the generator was. The teacher gave a 45 volt shock to convince them that it was real. The volt was battery power and not attached to the mains. The generator switches were labelled with voltage levels and verbal descriptions from: 15-60 slight shock up in intervals of 15 volts to 435-450 XXX. (Gross, 2010, pg. 416) The learner was asked to memorise a series of paired words. The teacher was to then test the learner by giving him one the words in a pair along with four different words. The learner then had to answer which of the four words had originally been paired with the first one. The learners answer was indicated by one of the four switches which lit up one of four lights on the generator machine. If the learner gave the correct answer, then they moved onto the next question. If the answer was wrong the teacher had to tell the learner the correct answer, and then say that they were going to give them a shock which went up higher 15 volts each time an incorrect answer was given. . (Gross, 2010, pg.216). In the first experiment known as the ‘remote-victim condition’ the leaner was to give vocal response until 300 volts was used, then the learner was scripted to start pounding on the wall and after 315 volts were administrated to stop. In the second experiment the responses were voice...
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