Influence of Others 2:
• You are designated as the Teacher and the other subject is the Learner (who is actually a
confederate in the study but you are unaware)
The Learner is connected to chock electrodes while you as a Teacher quietly watch
• During the setup, the Learner casually mentions that he has a heart condition which raised your
concerns, but the experimenter assures him that the shocks would do no permanent damage
As the Teacher, you are taken into a different room (control room) and seated in front of a
console containing a row of some very serious looking switches.
• Each switch is marked with a shock voltage ranging from 15 to 450 volts; to add to the effect,
some of the switches have captions such as “slight shock”, “moderate chock” and “danger,
• As Teacher, you are to read a list of word pairs to the Learner, who in turn must correctly
respond with the second word in the pair.
• To improve answers, the Learner will receive a shock for every incorrect answer; the shocks
will progressively increase.
• How long would you be able to do this? Even after hearing no response, would you be able to
• 65% of all subjects continued until the very end of the experiment delivering a shock labeled
“Danger, High Voltage” to a non-responsive man with a heart condition.
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There is a very strong tendency of obedience to authority, even if this power is limited.
• You are not always an accurate judge of how you would behave in a given situation.
• Most subjects were emotionally devastated by the experience (ethics was a major factor).
• One possible explanation for the extraordinary degree of obedience observed was the inherent
prestige with following the directions of a faculty member at Yale University.
• From an actual study room, to a rundown office, switching from professor to undergraduate
student all decreased the rate of obedience
• Another thing is that subjects continued to obey because they were separated from the Learner
• The closer in proximity that the Teacher was to the Learner, the less likely the Teacher was to
• Final factor influencing obedience was proximity of the Experimenter to the Teacher • If ordered by phone, only 25% of subjects obeyed, in fact, a number of Teachers “cheated” by
delivering shocks of lower intensity than required
Obedience in the Real World:
• Milgram’s experiment demonstrated obedience in a lab settings, how does this apply to real life
• Hofling + colleague: Man posing as doctor calls a real nurse and states that he is on his way to
the hospital to asses a patient and instructs her to administer a high dosage of a fake drug to the
• However, she would be breaking several rules.
• The man is a complete stranger, the dosage is more than instructed the max is on the bottle, the
drug is not on the official list of medications and medication orders should never be taken over
Nurses said that they would never obey these orders but 21 out of 22 did.
• First, your tendency to obey can be irresistible under a variety of circumstances.
• Second, you can never quite know how you would act until you are placed in a given situation.
Attitudes and Behaviour:
• When you conform to a group, obey a command, or follow a social convention; you are
performing a behaviour that is not necessarily in the line with your attitudes. • Can your chosen behaviour affect your attitudes? This is called Cognitive Dissonance.
• You are asked to participate in an experiment that was stated to be exciting but you leave
• You are then told to talk to the next participant and tell them how exciting it was and you are
either given $1 or $20 to lie to the next person; you are then asked to fill out a questionnaire
about how you really felt about the experiment.
• Reason why the $1 group rated the experiment higher in enjoyment is due to C.D.
• Each subject subconsciously asks themselves “why did I tell the next subject that this
experiment was exciting?” because they actually believes the experiment to be boring, but told
the subject that it was fun, there is an inconsistency between their attitudes and behaviour.
• This inconsistency produces an uncomfortable feeling called dissonance.
• To reduce feelings of dissonance, there is an adjustment in attitude to be in line with active
• And so, the subjects change their attitudes to match their behaviour and decide to themselves
that the experiment was more interesting than they initially thought.
• Subjects paid $1 will rate the experiment much higher than the ones paid $20.
• When $20 asked themselves why they lied to next group, they say they did it for the money,
feeling no dissonance because there is no conflict between attitudes and behaviour.
• Their attitude is intace and they can go on believing that the experiment was boring and their
inconsistent behaviour is explained by the motivation of the large $20 reward.
• For cognitive dissonance to take place, there must be insufficient justification for a behaviour
in conflict with the attitude.