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Social Psychology: Long Answer Question- Response
a) Describe two research studies investigating obedience.
Two research studies that demonstrate the influence of obedience are Milgram’s lab experiment and Hofling’s field experiment. Stanley Milgram’s aim was to examine the impact of an authority figure, as he focused on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. Similarly, Hofling’s aim was to research obedience levels in a real life social setting, a hospital.
Milgram’s experiment tested how much pain people were willing to inflict upon others, simply because they were ordered to do so by an authority figure. In this behavioral study of obedience, the dependent variable was the number of shocks participants was willing to administer, thus illustrating to Milgram their level of conformity. The more shocks they administered, the higher the conformity level. The independent variable, which was tested through replications and variations of the experiment, was the prestige of the setting, proximity of learner and experimenter to the participant, and the gender of participants. Milgram set up his experiment at Yale University, in a lab setting. After being introduced to each other, the subjects picked out of a hat to see who would be the learner and teacher. This system was not equitable as the participant was always the teacher. The subjects were shown the shock generator that ranged up to 450 volts, and subsequently, the confederate was wired to electrodes. The learner’s job was to memorize connections between various pairs of words. Each time the answer was incorrect, the shocks got increasingly powerful. As the volts got stronger, the prerecorded tape made it seem to the subjects as though the learner was suffering. Soon the learner became silent and chose not to respond to any questions. Although the participant became tense and frightened, the experimenter ordered him to continue. The purpose was to see the extent to which the...