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Milgram, S. (1974) Obedience to Authority. Predictions and Variations Conclusion

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Milgram, S. (1974) Obedience to Authority. Predictions and variations conclusion. Summary of Milgram’s study detailing the average levels of shock ‘teachers’ administered and the percentage of ‘teachers’ administering the maximum voltage with results reported by prediction and type of authority variation. The data shows during the experimental conditions the highest average voltage that ‘teachers’ stopped administering shocks was in the original study (368 Volts) with the highest percentage of ‘teachers’ administering the maximum voltage again being in the original study (65. ). In the predictions college students recorded the highest average voltage (140).

This implies that when in the presence of authority levels of obedience raise. The lowest average voltage during the experimental conditions was when two experimenters gave conflicting instructions (75 Volts) with the lowest percentage administering the maximum voltage again being in the same experiment (0). In the predictions psychiatrists recorded the lowest average level (123). Both predictions predicted the lowest percentage administering the maximum voltage (0).

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This implies receiving conflicting instructions does not indicate compliance lowering our obedience level.

The main findings appear to show that most people would inflict pain on another human being if instructions were given by someone they believe to be an authority figure. How far will ordinary people go to inflict harm on another human being on the orders of authority? This report aims to * Summarise the key features of Milgram’s Obedience to Authority study * Identify the ethics behind the experiment Identify and understand the key findings of Milgram’s study surrounding personality and situation * Explain how Milgram’s study, although unable to be replicated in today’s society, is still relevant Background: Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) a social psychologist was regarded as one of the most controversial psychologists of the twentieth century. Born to Jewish parents in New York, Milgram was originally rejected onto a Ph. D. course because he had no experience in psychology. 6 undergraduate courses in psychology later he was finally accepted.

Milgram’s greatest contribution to psychology is his obedience studies, studies that explored the social psychology aspects of everyday life (Banyard 2012 p67). Influenced by the events of the holocaust and posing the question: What is there in nature that allows an individual to act without any restraints whatsoever? (Milgram on Milgram: Part 1 (Obedience experiments) (2010). He wanted to investigate why ordinary people are keen to obey an authority figure and commit evil deeds even when it goes against their beliefs.

Milgram used social psychology concepts to explain how the behaviour of an individual can be influence by an authority figure. His original study focused on a group of individuals who had to choose between obeying potential life and death instructions and their personal conscience. Later, in order to demonstrate reliability, Milgram, among other psychologists, replicated the study with variations carried out in real-life work environments including the work of Charles Hofling et al. (1966).

This focused on the hospital setting where nurses are expected to follow instructions under the supervision of a doctor. Milgram and the ethics: Milgram’s experiment raised many ethical questions. People argued that Milgram did not ensure that: * volunteers were fully informed of the experiment * all unnecessary mental suffering was avoided * the degree of risk was no greater than the humanitarian importance * the experimenter was prepared to terminate at any stage Controversial as it was, Milgram defended his experiment arguing it fitted in with the code of ethics at the time.

However it would be difficult to replicate today using actual people, due to stricter regulations (Nuremburg Code). Milgram’s theory – Situation V Personality: Milgram created his theory based on two assumptions commonly debated in social psychology: 1. Situation – when in certain situation people follow orders from authority believing they are ‘just doing their job’ and therefore are not responsible for their actions 2. Personality – a person’s characteristics which determine whether they go with or against their conscience Milgram’s theory and the relevance today Milgram’s obedience study is one of the most influential especially where hierarchy resides and still remains important in explaining events in today’s world. * In almost every aspect of society we have developed a hierarchy where everyone feels obedience towards authority is paramount. The courts, military, schools and hospitals are fine examples of this. * Charles et al. (1966) replication mirrored Milgram’s basic findings – nurses, by simply doing their jobs, showed how following instructions could be linked to the difference between life and death.

Milgram established everyone has a conscience. However faced with authority, people can suspend their ability to make moral decisions. Nonetheless, although responding to authority, some people can also be influenced by the consequences for the recipient. When this is the case people are more likely to take responsibility, listen to their conscience and challenge authority. Knowing why and what causes us to obey instructions can help us evaluate whether something is worth going against the conscience to obey or not. Milgram’s quote:

If we take time to think about it we would all say that if asked to do something we disagreed with we would refuse to do it but in actual fact, in reality, when face with authority we simply obey their instructions. In Milgram’s words, ‘When an individual wishes to stand in opposition to authority, he does best to find support for his position from others in his group’. (Milgram 1974). In other words if asked to do something which you know is morally and ethically wrong it is important you stand up to authority, seek support from colleagues and stand strong. Conclusion Milgram’s focus on social psychology emphasises the importance of social behaviour in real-life situations * Milgram’s obedience study and subsequent study’s appear to show it is often the situation a person finds themselves in that influences behaviour as oppose to their personality. * According to Milgram the majority of people will perform evil acts if instructed. * Everyone has a conscience but when challenged by authority they lose all sense of right and wrong. References: Blass,T. Dr. presents Thomas Milgram quotes. [online] <http://www. stanleymilgram. com/quotes. hp> [Accessed 16 November 2012] Milgram on Milgram: Part 1 (Obedience experiments) (2010) (video), DSE141 Discovering psychology, Milton Keynes, The Open University. Banyard, P. (2012) ‘Just following orders? ’ Brace, N. and Byford, J. (eds) Investigating Psychology, Oxford, Oxford University Press, Milton Keynes, The Open University. Part 3: Self-reflection I found the most challenging part of this assignment was condensing my ideas together and referencing. Despite reading TMA 01 assignment prior to reading the material I did not note relevant information as I went. For TMA 02, as I read relevant pieces I am going to jot ideas down.

Cite this Milgram, S. (1974) Obedience to Authority. Predictions and Variations Conclusion

Milgram, S. (1974) Obedience to Authority. Predictions and Variations Conclusion. (2016, Oct 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/milgram-s-1974-obedience-to-authority-predictions-and-variations-conclusion/

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