Milgram Notes

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Stanley Milgram
Milgram, Stanley. Behavioral Study of Obedience (1963).

Why would people obey a legitimate authority figure even if they were asked to do something that was clearly and morally wrong?

Milgram want to test the GADH (German’s Are Different Hypothesis), which was currently being used by historians to explain the systematic destruction of millions of Jews, Poles and other’s in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

This hypothesis maintains
• Hitler could not have put his evil plans into effect without the cooperation of thousands of others • The German’s have a basic character defect, namely a readiness to obey without question, regardless of the acts demanded by the authority figure. • Hitler needed this readiness to obey for his agenda.

Milgram states:
“It has been reliably established that from 1939 to 1945 millions of innocent persons were slaughtered on command,; gas chambers were built, death camps were guarded, daily quotas of corpses were produced with the same efficiency as the manufacture of appliances.”

Purpose of Yale Study
• His first study at Yale University was intended as a pilot run or a control. • Results made a follow up study in Germany unnecessary. • He predicted that he would have very low levels of obedience in the US and very high ones in Germany.

The procedure involves a ‘teacher’, a ‘learner’ (a stooge or accomplice), and an authority figure (scientist). The teacher is going to perform a memory test on the learner.

• IV: wrong answers by learner  DV: rate of obedience (up the voltage ladder). • IV: prods and prompts by experimenter  DV: rate of obedience • Could also be controlled observation study, since tape recorders, one way mirrors and observers to make marks were used? But it was not a natural setting. • Quantitative data: number of shocks, strength of shock level • Qualitative data: emotional responses to prompts, post interviews, debriefing statements.

Participants: • 40 males aged 20 – 50 • Answered ads in newspapers or flyers • Volunteered to be in a Yale study for memory and learning • Paid $4.50.

Procedure: • Greeted by “Jack Williams” a tech in a grey lab coat with clipboard. • Introduced to Mr. Wallace, the ‘learner’ (stooge), he had arrived earlier. – 47 years old, likeable accountant

• Entire set was preplanned, staged and scripted except for responses of the ‘teacher’.

Procedure cont: • Title: The Effects of Punishment on Learning. Behavioral Psychology – Stimulus  response  consequence  behavior change – Word pair  wrong answer  shock  decrease in wrong answers – Consequence is positive (presented) punisher (meant to decrease the likelihood of engaging in that behavior again).

• This would be deceit. Could cause ethical problems

• What was deceitful about this study’s procedure?

Procedure cont: • Mr. Wallace strapped into a chair. • Electrodes and paste (to avoid blisters) applied. • A REAL 45 volt shock given to teacher for authenticity (the ONLY shock given in the experiment) • Shown generator • Teacher read a series of word pairs, the first word pair was then repeated with a choice of five correct answers. (blue-girl, nice-day, fat-neck). • For every mistake made, a shock given and shocks proceeded in intensity. • Teacher was to announce the shock level each time.

Procedure cont: • Experimenter had scripted prods if the teacher did not want to go further or questioned going further, firm but not impolite manner: – – – – – “Please continue” or “Please go on”. “The experiment requires that you continue.” “It is absolutely essential that you continue.” “You have no other choice, you must go on.” Also included: “Although the shocks may be painful, there is no permanent tissue damage, so please go on.”

• Mr. Wallace pounds loudly on the wall at 300 volts • At 315v, stops pounding and gives no further answers. – If learner fails to respond, the...
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