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CC210 Lecture Notes - Deindividuation, Moral Responsibility, Stanford Prison Experiment

Course Code
Jennifer Lavoie

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October 19, 2012
Week 6, Friday
criminality in many cases may simply reflect being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the
wrong people.
Fundamental attribution error
the tendency to discount the influence of situational factors and explain behaviour by referring to the
personality of the actor instead.
E.g rioters in vancouver are, reckless, troublemakers and mean hearted.
Self serving bias:
The tendency to attribute good hings about ourselves to dispositional factors and bad things to events
and forces outside ourselves.
E.g performing well on an exam attributed to your intelligence, performing poorly on an exam
attributed to poorly designed, tricky test.
Crimes of obedience:
“a crime of obedience is an act performed in response to orders from authority figure that is considered
illegal or immoral by the larger community
e.g holocaust
Milgrams experiment: Design
Studied the amount of electrical shock people wiling to administer to others when ordered to do so by
an apparent authority figure
Subjects were male, 20-50
Told researchers studying effects of punishment on memory
“Teacher” and “Victim Learner” (confederate)
victim learner strapped to chair in presence of teacher
teacher placed in 2nd room with simulated shock generator (30 toggles, 15-450 volts)
Each time the learner gave an incorrect answer to learning task, the teacher was instructed to administer
stronger shock.
Victim not really shocked, actor screaming in agony.
How far would people go under the orders of an apparent authority figure?
2/3 subjects obeyed the experimenter and administered the max shock.
Hypothesized that only a sadistic few would do so.
Fundamental attribution error
profound influence of commands of authority
Most displayed anxiety/discomfort
Shift in the perceived role of the subject
“Agentic state”
Agent carrying out the wishes of another
no longer action on own accord
Moral responsibility bows to duty to be obedient
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