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PSYC241 – Conformity continued
Milgram Studies: Obedience to Authority
- Obedience: changes in behaviour produced by the commands of an authority
- People can over-learn to comply with authority and not question it (ex. holocaust)
Background to Milgram Studies
- Post WWII: people were trying to come to terms with the holocaust
- Milgram thought people who were following orders of the holocaust weren’t evil,
they were just following orders like we would.
- Attributions for the immoral behaviour: dispositional or situational?
- Milgram was interested in conformity (had replicated Asch studies) but wanted to
examine social influence when there were severe consequences
- Learner and participant conditions, but the participant was secretly always the
teacher. If the learner got an answer wrong they were shocked.
- So the participants knew what they were administering, they were given a 40 volt
shock themselves to test is out. The shocks participants would be administering
went up to 450.
Modifications to the Procedure
- Different variables that will vary the results
- Proximity to the learner
- 4 conditions:
oRemote feedback couldn’’t hear screaming, just pounding
oVoice feedback can hear but can’t see learner
oProximity same room, only 1.5 meters away from learner
oTouch-proximity had to take learner’s arm and place it on shock plate
- As proximity increases, obedience decreases. In touch proximity variable, 25%
still went all the way through delivering shocks.
- Experimenter characteristics (person giving demands)
- 4 conditions:
oBaseline experimenter in same room
oAbsent experimenter was in the room, but then left and gave instructions
over the phone
oOrdinary person experimenter experimenter pretended to be a real person
(participant didn’t know this)
oContradictory experimenters 2 experimenters, initially both seemed on
board but then one experimenter changed his mind and wanted to stop as
- As the authority of the experimenter decreases, obedience decreases. This is the
only time obedience actually completely stops even if one person joins us in
disagreeing, that dramatically reduces our obedience.
- Prestige of location
oYale university vs. run-down office in New Haven