Outline and Evaluate Research Into Obedience

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Obedience is when an individual responds to an order from an authority figure. A key study that has looked into research is one carried out by Milgrams in 1963. The aim of the experiment was investigate whether ordinary people will obey a legitimate authority figure even when required to injure an innocent person. Milgrams recruited 40 male participants by advertising for volunteers to take part in his study. Each participant would be paid $4.50. The experiment consisted of one ‘real’ participant and two confederates – the experimenter, who would be the authority figure, and the learner. The ‘real’ participant was asked to administer increasingly strong electric shocks to the learner each time he got a question wrong. The learner was sat in another room and gave all the wrong answer in silence until he reached 300V, he then began to pound on the walls and then gave no response to the next question. If the participant asked to stop, the experimenter would say “it's absolutely necessary that you continue” or “you have no other choice, you must go on”. Milgrams found that 65% of the participants continued to 450V, the maximum voltage. All the participants went to 300V and only 12.5% of them stopped at that point. Milgrams concluded that ordinary people are obedient to authority figures even when asked to behave in an inhuman way. Problems with this research were that it went against a lot of ethical issues. One of the main ones was the fact that their right to withdraw was taken away from them. When some of the participants asked to stop, the experiment disallowed them. Although Milgrams claimed that participants knew they were free to leave at any time, some of the participants felt that they had no choice but to continue. Also Milgrams deceived the participants. He told the participants that they would be involved in an experiment of the effects of punishment on learning which was not the real purpose. Milgrams argued that if he had told them the real aim of the...
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