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“Behavioral Study of Obedience” Stanley Milgram

By bhatt1989 Nov 23, 2011 1027 Words
“Behavioral Study of Obedience” Stanley Milgram
Shashi Bhatt
“Behavioral Study of Obedience” Stanley Milgram

The Milgram’s experiment on Obedience to authority figure was a series of experiment in social psychology conducted by Stanley Milgram. The experiment measured the willingness of study participants to obey authority figure, which instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. It has been understood before this experiment that people tend to obey authority figure. Milgram’s work showed researchers the depth of this tendency and identified several of its key mechanism.

Obedience, as determinant of behavioral, is as of particular relevance to our time. It has been reliably established, that innocent people were slaughtered on command in gas and death chambers. These inhumane ideas originated in single person’s mind, yet they could be carried out to extreme scale, if large number of people obeyed orders. Obedience is psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purpose. Obedience may be educative and refer to acts of kindness or charity, as well as to destruction. General Procedure

Milgram developed an intimidating shock generator, with shock levels starting at 30 volts and increasing in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450 volts. The switches were labeled with terms including "slight shock," "moderate shock" and "danger: severe shock." Each participant took the role of a "teacher," who would then deliver a shock to the "student" every time an incorrect answer was produced. While the participant believed that he was delivering real shocks to the student, the student was actually a confederate in the experiment who was simply pretending to be shocked. The order to administer shocks are given to subject in context of “learning experiment” to study the effects of punishment on memory. As shock got higher the subject begin to build internal resistance and subject refused to go on with the experiment. Behavioral prior to this is considered “obedience.” This technique allowed variable to be manipulated at several points of experiment. Related Studies

The experiment bears an important relation to philosophical analysis of obedience and authority. Based on some studies, obedience is ubiquitous and indispensable feature of social life. Method
The participants in the Milgram experiment were 40 men recruited using newspaper ads. In exchange for their participation, each person was paid $4.50. The subjects had wide variety of careers and qualification. The were also told, they would be paid $4.50 simply for coming to the experiment. The role of experimenter was played by 31-year old high school biology teacher. The teacher appearance was stern throughout experiment. The victim was played by a 47-year old accountant. Procedure

One naive subject and one victim performed in experiment. After pretext, subjects drew slips of paper from hat, which determined who would be the teacher and who would be the learner. The subject was assured there would be no permanent damage to tissue. The learning task was paired-associated, and the response was given by a switch. If at any point, the subject showed unwillingness to go on the experimenter responded: 1. Please Continue.

2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.
Dependent Measure
The primary dependent measure for any subject is the maximum shock administer, before he refuse to go any further. This tend to vary from 0 (for subject who refused to administer first shock) to 30 (subject who administer highest shock). Following the experiment, the subject were interviewed with open-ended questions. Results

Twenty Six subjects obeyed experiment commands fully and to the highest shock proceeding to punish the victim. Fourteen subjects refuses to participate at some point in the experiment. Refer to table 1 for details. Table 1

|Designation of Voltage |Number of Subjects who Stopped at this Volts | |Intense Shock: 300 |5 | |Extreme Intense Shock: 315 |4 | |Extreme Intense Shock: 330 |2 | |Extreme Intense Shock: 345 |1 | |Extreme Intense Shock: 360 |1 | |Danger: Severe Shock 375 |1 |

Discussion
The experiment yielded two findings; they were surprising. The first concerns the sheer strength of obedient tendencies in this situations. The procedure created extreme levels of nervous tension in some subjects. Profuse sweating, trembling, and stuttering were typical expressions of this emotional disturbance. One unexpected sign of tension—yet to be explained—was the regular occurrence of nervous laughter, which in some subjects developed into uncontrollable occurrence. The following feature of the experiment go in explaining high amount of obedience observed in these situations. 1.The experiment takes place in reputable university, and the importance of background authority is now being studied by series of experiment outside of Yale University. 2.The experiment had worth purpose—advancement of knowledge about learning and memory. 3.The subject has an impression, that victim has voluntarily submitted to authority system of the experiment. The subject participate without any qualification, thus he feels obligated to complete experiment. 4.The subject has also entered experiment voluntary and he receives himself under obligation to complete experiment. 5.Some method of procedure strengthen the subject’s sense of obligation to the experimenter. 6.From subject’s standpoint, the fact that he is a teacher and other person is victim is purely a chance consequence. 7.There is vagueness of expectation concerning what a psychologist may require of his subject, and he is overstepping acceptable limits. 8.The subject are assured shock are painful, but not dangerous. 9.Through shock level 20, the victim continue to provide answer to the signal box. This indicates to subject, victim is willing to continue. 10.The subjects is placed in position in which he must respond to the competing demands of two persons: the experimenter and the victim. 11.The experimenter seeks an abstract scientific datum; the victim cries out the relief from physical suffering caused by subject’s action. 12.The experiment gives subject little time for reflection. 13.The conflict stem from the opposition of two deeply ingrained behavior dispositions: first, the disposition not to harm other people, and second the tendency to obey those whom we perceive to be legitimates authorities.

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