Evaluate Milgrams research into obedience. Stanley Milgram (1963) explains why 65% of the people did something they felt was morally wrong, that is they went into an agentic state and exhibited some aspects of denial in order to avoid moral strain. However, Milgram does not explain why 65% did not obey. In other words, it does not explain individual differences as the volunteers in Milgrams experiment seemed to resist the pressure and Milgram does not explain that. To continue, the experiment lacked validity.
It did not reflect a real life situation s it is quite unusual to be administering shocks to others if they answered a question incorrectly. The experiment therefore lacked ecological validity which may have lead to demand characteristics. Orne and Holland support this theory by stating that ??? in particular, because they were paid, they felt obliged to go along with the situation as they had entered a social contract” (Orne and Holland. 1968, p. 78) Milgram (1974) contradicts this statement by demonstrating that 74% of the participants believed they were giving electric shocks, 22. % had their doubts and 2. 4% did not believe the shocks were real. Further evidence supports the view that the situation seemed more valid as the experimenter wore a scientist’s lab coat ensuring that the experiment was real and that he held distinguishable authority alongside with the fact that the experiment was held at Yale University, rendering legitimacy as it is known for its prestige. In terms of reliability, the conditions were controlled, keeping extraneous variables to a minimum.
This strengthens internal reliability as all the participants had shared the same set of experiences making it easier to replicate the study henceforth producing the same results. On the other hand, the sampling method was weak. Milgrams volunteers were predominantly white, male and between the ages of 20-50. This has an effect on the obedience rate and does not represent females or younger age groups. Burger (2009) replicated the study and found that women are 6% more destructively obedient than men and are more likely to conform to authority fgures.
Many ethical issues have circulated when discussing Milgram. First of which is protection of participants. The participants were psychologically damaged and showed clear signs of uneasiness, distress, discomfort and extreme tension which ad long lasting effects on them afterwards. In defence to this, no-one was physically harmed and after conducting an interview, 84% of the participants were glad to have taken part in the experiment and 80% said more experiments like this should be carried out.
Another ethical issue is deception. Milgram had purposefully misleaded participants about the aims of the research that they were a part of by withholding some information. This does not reflect what they do in real life situations and can also be humiliating to the participants. However, Milgram used deceptopn to convince the articipants to participate in the experiment, he had to minimally deceive them in order to carry out the experiment.
The participants had not given informed consent. They were deluded into believing informed the volunteers of what they will have to do in the experiment and they had given him their consent. If they had known the truth, the experiment wouldVe rendered invalid. Besides, the experiment was well orchestrated in terms of competence. Milgram was aware of what he was doing and his research was important, organised and needless to say, professional.