NOTE: This is a a DOUBLE-BLOG and worth twice the points. Entries are due no later than 2:00 PM FRIDAY, MAY 8
“Behavioral Study of Obedience”
- Consider when Milgram’s experiment was conducted. What historical events may have motivated him to explore this topic?
- Although this experiment has been conducted numerous times since the original study, the first studies involved only white males between 20 and 50. Why do you think Milgram made this choice?
- Re-read the first two sentences on page 116. Do you agree with that assertion? (He is essentially stating it as a matter of fact.) If you agree, why do you think obedience is so important to social life? If you disagree, what might be another “element” in the “basic structure” of social life other than obedience?
- Who and what are the subjects in Milgram’s experiment obedient to? What signs and signifiers “tell” the subjects they under an “authority”?
- When giving higher shocks, the “teachers” must tell the “learner” what the voltage is. What is the point of making this announcement?
- Explain why some of the participants laughed when they were giving the “learners” heavier shocks.
- Why was it important that the “teacher” and the “learner” not see each other? Do you think the outcome would have been different had the “teacher” been able to visually witness the “leaner” receiving the “shocks”? (Assume that the “teacher” would be pretending to receive shocks.)
- Milgram uses the example of the Nazi and their atrocities to demonstrate how obedience can go wrong. In what important ways does his example differ from the nature of his experiment? Do these differences undermine or support his conclusions?
- After a participant finishes the experiment, they are informed about the true nature of the research. They get to meet the “learner” and discover that he is unharmed and received not shocks. It is a friendly atmosphere. Do you think this debriefing is enough comfort, or do you think that the participant might require more attention after he leaves? What is the responsibility of the researcher in this regard?
- After the Milgram experiments, changes were made to the ethical code of conduct practiced by researchers. One seemingly small change was changing the term “subject” to “participant.” Why do you think this change was made? What does it signify?
“Some thoughts on Ethics of Research…” and “Issues in the Study of Obedience…”
- Summarize, in your own words, Baumrind problems with Milgram’s experiments. What are her major concerns and what are her secondary concerns?
- She does not mention Milgram or his experiments at all until the eighth paragraph. What is the purpose of the first seven paragraphs of the article?
- Why is the lab “not the place to study degree of obedience or suggestibility” according to Baumrind?
- Baumrind asserts that she “would not like to see experiments such as Milgram’s proceed unless the subjects were fully informed of the dangers of serious aftereffects.” If subjects were informed in the manner she suggests, how might this effect the outcome of the experiment?
- What if Milgram’s (or any other experiment) resulted in important findings that genuinely improved the lives of average people in significant ways, or at least furthered science in important ways. Would that be enough for you to justify the kind of trauma that Baumrind suggests Milgram’s subjects experienced as a result of their participation? Don’t the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Argue either side.