Milgram's Blind Obedience Study Trainee Police Handout

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Blind obedience: Does it exist and how is it relevant for police officers? Summary I will be looking at importance of Stanley Milgram’s study with regards to obedience and ethics. Consider how ethical challenges may influence your decisions as both a police officer and as a ‘figure of authority’. Look at the impact of both personality and situation on obedience. Background After the atrocities of the 2nd World War psychologists such as Stanley Milgram wanted understand what happened and why. In his obedience study (1965) 40 volunteers were asked to become ‘teachers’ and administer punishment to ‘learners’ every time they answered a question incorrectly in a memory task. The punishment was in the form of electric shocks going from 15 to 450 volts. The ‘teachers’ were ordered to continue by an ‘authority figure’ who stayed in the room with them. All the participants obeyed up to 300 volts. At this point the ‘learner’ screamed ‘Get me out of hear. I absolutely refuse to answer any more’. Only five of the participants stopped at this point, nine stopped somewhere between 315 and 435 volts and 26 ‘teachers’ administered the maximum 450 volts. In reality no one was hurt in the experiment as no actual shocks were given. The ‘learner’ and ‘authority figure’ was part of the experiment and were in on the deception. Milgram carried out further research to try and understand how the situation made people continue to obey and administer potentially lethal shocks. In one variation, two ‘authority figures’ were in the room with the ‘teacher’. One told the participants to continue whilst the other told them to stop. All the participants stopped early on. This shows that that the absence of a clear authority figure reduces obedience. In another variation a second (stooge) ‘teacher’ was in the room. He obeyed until the end. In this variation all participants administered
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