Milgram's Research on Obedience

Topics: Milgram experiment, Stanford prison experiment, Social psychology Pages: 3 (811 words) Published: April 14, 2013
Milgram's research on obedience: how and why it can help student nurses

The report aims to:
Describe the main aspects of Milgram's study on Obedience
Explain why and how this research can be used to help prepare student nurses for working on hospital wards Contribute to the understanding of some of the challenges nurses may face in their working practices

Stanley Milgram, a psychologist from Yale University, conducted a series of experiments on obedience to explain some of the concentration camp horrors perpetrated during World War II. He tested the subjects' willingness to cause pain to another person if instructed to by an authority figure. In his experiment, a group of participants were asked by an authority figure to administer an electric shock of increasing intensity to a man, whenever he made a mistake on a simple memory test. In spite of the fact that the man was experiencing great physical pain, the majority of the subjects continued to administer the shocks. Although many of the participants felt increasingly uncomfortable, they continued to obey the experimenter who incited them to go on. Milgram suggested that when people are under the influence of authority, the nature of the task they are asked to perform becomes irrelevant and they defer the responsibility for their actions to the authority itself. Milgram's work raised some issues about a hypothetical lack of regard to the participants. However, Milgram defended his study and his work was judged ethically acceptable by the American Psychological Association.

A replication of Milgram's study in a real-life work environment: the experiment of Charles Hofling To verify and confirm Milgram's results, Hofling carried out an experiment. Twenty-two nurses were asked by a doctor, over the phone, to give 20mg of Astroten (a drug that does not exist) to a patient. The nurses did not know the doctor personally and on the drug's label it was specified that the recommended dose...

References: Brace, N. and Byford, J. (2012) Investigating Psychology, Oxford, Oxford University Press/Milton Keynes, The Open University
Milgram, S. (1974) Obedience to Authority ': An Experimental View, London, Tavistock
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