Describe and evaluate Milgram’s study into obedience
Milgram (1963)’s aim was to see the levels of obedience to authority, he recruited 40 male participants by advertising for volunteers on newspaper to take part of a study of memory at Yale University. Each individual was paid $4.50 and was told that they would receive this money even if they quit during the study. The participants were always the teachers and confederates were the learners. The participants were told that if the learner got a question wrong they would have to give electric shocks increasing at 15volts each time. Milgram had asked psychologists how far they thought participants would go, and there had been an assumption that only 2.6% would go to 240volts, however despite their assumption Milgram found that 95% of the participants went up to 300volts, and 65% of the participants gave the maximum 450v shock.
The findings show that ordinary people are astonishingly obedient to authority, even when they are asked to carry out shocking tasks, this suggests that it is not evil people who commit atrocities but ordinary people who are just obeying orders, therefore this can explain why German soldiers were so harsh and inhumane during the Holocaust.
Milgram’s study has been supported by many other studies. Hofling et al (1966) conducted a study in a hospital; Dr Smith gave instructions on the telephone to the Nurses and gave orders to overdose a patient with a drug called Astroten. 21 out of 22 nurses obeyed, therefore this study supported that obedience does occur in real life settings.
However Milgram’s study has been criticised for deception and the lack of informed consent, Milgram did not tell his participants the real purpose of the study and because he deceived his participants, the participant’s informed consent was not for the original study. Also Milgram did not give his participants the right to withdraw, because even though Milgram argued that the participants were allowed to...
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