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-Investigating obedience to authority
- explore the effects of a range of factors on levels of obedience
-whether German were particularly obedient to authority figures (nazi-holocaust)


-Recruited participants by placing an ad in a local newspaper- to take part in an

experiment called learning

-Participants drew a piece of paper from a hat to assign the role of teacher and learner.
( fixed – confederate = learner)

-Milgarm explained to teacher that they had to read a series of word pairs to learner

-learner (confederate) had to pick the correct second word of the pair from a list of a
few words

-teacher said if learner responded with wrong answer then electric shock

- this continued over many sets of pairs and the electric shock intensity
increased when wrong answer was given.
• 15-60 volts slight shock
• 75-120 v moderate
• 135-180 v strong
• 195-240 v very strong
• 255-300 v intense shock
• 315-360 v extremely intense shock
• 375-420 v danger severe shock
• 425-450 v XXX

- Before the experiment, millgram asked the shock level at which they thought
teachers would refuse to go on
Result: all-refuse beyond very strong
Over 80%- refuse to go beyond the strong shock level

- beginning- teacher was given a sample shock of 45 v (slight sgock)

-learner didn’t actually receive shocks- but teacher didn’t know this

-teacher saw learner wired up and would be told that he had complained of a weak

-milgram ordered teacher to carry on giving shocks when learner got an answer
• Please go on
• The experiment requires that you continue
• You have no other choice, you must go on.

-took place in Yale Uni (prestigious)

- teacher learner put in different rooms


- Milgram predicted before that 2% of people would shock to the highest level
but most people would quit early on

- All: shocked to 300 volts (intense shock)

- 65% shocked all the way up to 450 volts (XXX)


- demonstrated that the situation a person is placed in may cause that person to
blindly obey authority without apparent concern for other people
- destructive obedience to authority- made people realise

Kelman and Hamilton (1989)

- 3 main factors to explain obedience and destructive obedience in particular:

1) legitimacy of the system

2) legitimacy of authority within the system
3) legitimacy of demands or orders given

Evaluation of mil
Milgram 1974- situational factors affecting obedience

-Milgram conducted 18 experiments using the basic learner-teacher set up

• Legitimacy of system and authority- conducted experiment in a run down

office in a less respectable part of town
just over 48% delivered max shock = lower levels in obedience

• Legitimacy of authority- experimenter was casually dressed and gave orders

to teacher to carry on
Obedience dropped to just 20% giving max shock

• Proximity of the learner- teacher learner in same room

-Obedience dropped to 40%
- When teacher put the hand of learner on a metal plate to deliever the electric
shock obedience dropped to 20%

• Proximity- experimenter left the room after giving the teacher instructions on
what to do
Obedience dropped to 20%

• 2 experimenters- one saying go on, other said stop

Obedience drooped dramatically- no one giving maximum shock.

Adorno et al 1950-Dispositional factors affecting obedience

Likely to exist
among less
Evaluation of
educated people/
low economic
social status
Rokeach 1960-
showed authoritarism
is equally likely to be
seen on extreme Assumed associated
political left. with extreme political
right wing- fascist
Sidanius and Pratto 1999- Dispositional factors affecting obedience

- social dominance
- a person is said to have high social dominance when he or she wants group to
be better and more dominant than another group.

Feldman and Scheibe 1972- Defiance of authority

Aim to discover what factors cause people to rebel

against authority figures.

-students asked to complete a personal / embarrassing questionnaire in presence of others
-other students = confederates
- one condition = confederates appeared to complete questionnaire willingly
- In another condition = confederates refused to complete questionnaire and asked to
leave experiment.

- first condition: deviant likely to complete questionnaire than those in condition where
confederates refused

-When support is available people likely to refuse authority requests which are
-support = confederates refusing to do questionnaire.