Milgram Study

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1. What does Milgram’s study tell us about human behaviour?

Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted the Milgram experiment, study to see the participants' willingness to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that differed with their conscience. The study is used to show the aim that Stanley Milgram himself placed to see the willingness of the participant to obey use pain if one of the participants got an answer wrong. Overall, 65% of the participants gave shocks up to 450 volts (obeyed) and 35% stopped sometime before 450 volts. During the study many participants showed signs of nervousness and tension. Participants sweated, trembled, stuttered, bit their lips, groaned, dug fingernails into their flesh, and these were typical not exceptional responses. What Milgram wanted to know was how far humans will go when an authority figure orders them to hurt another human being. Many wondered after the horrors of WWII, and not for the first time, how people could be motivated to commit acts of such brutality towards each other. Not just those in the armed forces, but ordinary people were coerced into carrying out the most cruel and gruesome acts. Milgram's study discovered people are much more obedient than you might imagine. 63% of the participants continued right until the end - they administered all the shocks even with the learner screaming in agony, begging to stop and eventually falling silent. 2. Milgram created a fake ‘shock generator’ which in the 1960s looked very realistic.  The fake shock generator had 30 switches marked clearly in 15 volt increments from 15 to 450 volts.  To improve the authenticity of the fake shock generator written labels were also clearly indicated for groups of four switches: ‘slight shock’, ‘moderate shock’, ‘strong shock’, ‘very strong shock’, ‘intense shock’, ‘extreme intensity shock’, ‘danger: severe shock’.  Two switches after this were marked XXX). The fake generator also had buzzers, flashing lights and moving dials.  The generator could give a 45-volt shock, which again was designed to make it appear genuine. The experiment took place in a smart psychology laboratory in Yale University. All the equipment that was used in the lab made it look very realistic which set the scene for the participants and which may have intimidated them.

3. Milgram explains that Agentic state is when we give up our own free will to serve the needs of society as a whole. People give up their responsibility and follow orders without considering the consequences or whether the orders are appropriate, this results in a flow of responsibility. This diffusion of responsibility means that we no longer monitor our own behaviour. Milgram believed that his participants were 'just following orders' and did not consider themselves responsible, this is shown very clearly in his study of Destructive Obedience in 1963, his participants displayed signs of relief when the experimenter said "I am responsible for what happens here, and to Mr Wallace."

Outline and evaluate ethical issues in social influence research The most common criticism of Milgram’s work is concerned with its ethics: Participants were deceived as to the exact nature of the study for which they had volunteered, and by making them believe they were administering real electric shocks to a real participant. However Milgram could not have found results that truly reflected the way people behave in real situations if he had not deceived his participants, all of whom were thoroughly debriefed afterwards. It can also be argued that Milgram did not take adequate measures to protect his participants from the stress and emotional conflict they experienced. It is possible that being involved in the experiment may have had a long-term effect on the participants. In terms of the right to withdraw, it was good that Milgram stated at the start that the money paid to the participants was theirs regardless of whether...
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