Outline and Critically Assess Psychological Research Into Obedience

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Outline and critically assess psychological research into obedience

Psychological research into obedience over the years has enabled us to understand more about the human mind than ever before. When experiments are conducted, the aim is to demonstrate cause and effect relationships between the independent and dependant variables, usually in order to make generalising statements about people.

A well known study into obedience is the Milgram experiment, Milgram had a found interest in why during the Second World War hundreds of people obeyed the orders of others in authority. Millions of innocent people were killed on command. He wanted to test out this potential destructive obedience in a laboratory. Each participant out of the forty of his study met a “Mr Wallace”, who was in actual fact a confederate, thinking that he was also a participant in the study. The participant was told that one of them would be the teacher, while the other was the learner. The study was introduced as an investigation into whether punishment affects learning. However, it was always “fixed” that the genuine participant was the teacher while Mr Wallace was the learner. Mr Wallace was seen being strapped into an “electric chair” device in the next room, while the participant was made aware that the shocks would be extremely painful but would not cause any lasting damage. The participant was to sit in another room and test Mr Wallace on word pairs, administering an electric shock when his answer was incorrect. These increased each time in 15volt intervals and led up to a lethal 450 volts. Each time a shock was given, a pre-recorded sound was played indicating an ever-growing pain in Mr Wallace up until 315 volts where from then on was silence. Another confederate- the authority figure Mr Williams- wearing a lab coat instructed and prodded the participant to go ahead with each shock. Results showed that all participants delivered shocks of 300 volts, whilst a staggering...
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