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The function of obedience in committing deeds against one’s private consciousness (1961) has few facts. Most reports show that if they are instructed to do so, only very disturbed individuals can administer pain to a normal citizen. Their experiment evaluated the obedience to the power of individuals. The findings showed that most of them follow all instructions issued by the authority-figure despite their reluctance.
Current theories concentrate on private features to clarify misconduct and how someone can knowingly damage others. In a study, experts like psychologists and physicians predicted that if told to do so, a tiny percentage of a population would hurt others. The researchers also found that people who were not given the opportunity to be treated with respect by their superiors were more likely to commit a crime since they were least likely to get punished. Can people harm others because they are following orders? Can people be ordered to act against their moral conscious? The experiment Milgram conducted will test whether a person can administer a painful shock because they are asked to do so. The expectation is that very few will keep administering the shocks, and most participants will disobey. Of the 40 participants in the study, 26 delivered the maximum shocks. 14 persons did not obey the experimenter and stopped before reaching the highest levels. All 40 participants continued to give shocks up to 300 volts. The research demonstrates that if commanded, individuals can deliberately hurt others. It shows that this dynamic is far more crucial than earlier thought and that such behavior is less predictive of personal morality.
Although Milgram’s obedience studies had an impact on ethics, it also had an impact on the studies of personality. Adorno et al. (1950) developed a questionnaire called the California F scale, to measure levels of an authoritarian personality. Readers were presented with statements to which they either agree or disagree. It is possible that this scale is biased, where participants may provide answers they think are more socially acceptable. The authoritarian personality refers to a specific personality held by people which makes them more prone to obedience. Milgram and Elms (1966) led a post-study on participants who were obedient in Milgram’s initial study. 20 obedient and 20 defiant participants were giving multiple personality tests including the F scale. They were also asked about their personal relationships along with the previous participants from Milgram’s study. Elms and Milgram found that the obedient participants scored higher on the F scale, in comparison to disobedient participants. Elms and Milgram concluded that the obedient participants in his original research displayed higher levels of the authoritarian personality compared to disobedient participants. Although it is likely that authoritarian personality contributes to obedience, a range of situational variables can affect the level of this contribution. Hofling (1966) dig a little deeper into Milgram’s studies by conducting a study of obedience in a natural setting. Their participants were 22 nurses who were unaware that a study was taking place. The nurses receive a call whilst they were working under a Dr.Smith. Who instructed them to give 20mg of Astrofen to a patient on the ward. This was twice the maximum dose stated on the bottle. Which could have been very harmful to the patient. However, 21 out of the 22 attempted to give the medication. When 22 other nurses were asked what they would do, 21 of them said they wouldn’t give the medication if it was them. Hofling results showed that people are not willing to question authority even if they have very good reasons to. Bickman (1974) carried out a field study where an experimenter approached strangers bssing-by on a New York street and asked them to carry out small, inconvenient tasks. The experiment was dressed either in a jacket and tie or a guards uniform. Bickman concluded that the results demonstrated the power of certain types of uniform. What you have on alone can suggest authority, and when people think someone has the authority to punish them, they are more likely to obey. These studies along with Milgram’s own prove his obedience to personality theory. These studies also have huge concerns on how they were conducted. With the Hofling experiments, nurses are not allowed to accept instructions over the phone and the dose was way over the maximum limit. The Bickman experiment was unethical for many reasons. It wasn’t possible to get the consent of the participants to be in the experiment for obvious reasons, but they weren’t informed afterward either. Gender also plays a huge factor because people may be more inclined to help a woman than a man. Due to concerns on how certain Milgram experiments were conducted, many things changed on the ethical issues in order to protect future participants. Further research on obedience has been banned and none of his studies can be replicated. With scientific changes did not come society change. People are still likely to obey orders from people they believe have a higher authority. For example, in today’s society parents try to be as strict as possible, which makes the child suppress urges. Later on, the child is hidden from “normal” situations and might feel resentment towards the parents.
- Mcleod, S. (2017, February 05). The Milgram Experiment. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html
- Rogers, K. (2012). Stanley Milgram. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Stanley-Milgram
- Ofgang, E. (2015, May 22). Revisiting the Milgram Obedience Experiment conducted at Yale. Retrieved from https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Revisiting-the-Milgram-Obedience-Experiment-12870042.php
- Hofling, C. K., Brotzman, E., Dalrymple, S., Graves, N. & Bierce, C. (1966). An experimental study of nurse-physician relations. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 143, 171-180.
- PsychTeacher. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.psychteacher.co.uk/social-influence/obedience-in-real-life.html
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