Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Milgram Experiment - 1963 - Yale University

Aim: To see whether people would be obedient to an authority figure who was asking them to harm another person. (Specifically related to the Holocaust and the Germans following blindly during WW2)

Sample: Milgram used a sample of 40 males between the ages of 20 and 50 who had responded to an advert in a newspaper offering them $4.50 to partake in the study. Their occupations varied from unskilled to professional, from the New Haven area.

Procedure: When the participants (ppts) arrived at the university they were introduced to another “ppt” (this was in fact an actor or ‘confederate’ named Mr Wallace) and told the fake aim of the study which was to see if punishment can improve learning. The ppt and Mr Wallace then pulled straws to determine who would play the role of either learner or teacher - but it was fixed so Mr Wallace would always be the learner. The two were then lead by an experimenter (another confederate who was wearing a long grey coat), first to a room with an electric chair which the learner (Mr Wallace) would be strapped to then lead into another room with an electric shock generator with 30 switches going up in 15 volt intervals from 15 volts (slight shock) up to 450 volts (XXX) and a chair for the experimenter. The learner was strapped to the electric chair and at the same time the teacher was wired and shown what 45 volts felt like. The learner was given a list of paired word which he had to learn, the teacher would then test the learner by naming one of the words and asking the learner to say the word that matched from a list of four words. If the the learner got the answer right the teacher would move on, if the learner got the answer wrong the teacher was asked by the experimenter to shock him going up a level each time. The learner (Mr Wallace) was never actually shocked but pretended to react every time he was and made a point of getting most of the words wrong. While the ppts were shocking the learner, Mr Wallace would say things such as “I have severe heart problems”, and after 300 volts Mr Wallace stopped reacting to the shocks giving the teacher the impression that he was dead. If the teacher didn’t give a shock there were four prods that the experimenter used (Prod 1: Please continue, Prod 2: The experiment requires you to continue, Prod 3: It is absolutely essential that you continue and Prod 4: You have no other choice but to continue.), if the teacher still wouldn’t shock the learner they were allowed to leave the study.

Quantative - 65% of the 40 ppts went all the way up to 450 volts, and considered to have been obedient. The other 35% stopped between 300 volts and 450 volts but all the ppts did go up to 300 volts. (240 volts comes out of a standard UK plug socket)
Qualitative - During the study the ppts would ask things such as “who will take responsibility if he’s dead?”, they would also pull at their hair, bite their nails and break down in nervous fits of laughter.

Conclusion: Ordinary people are likely to follow obey authoritative figures even if it to the extent that it is killing somebody. This could be because they recognise the authority as morally right or legally based. (legitimate authority)
They may also have obeyed due to the Agent theory, they believed that the experimenter would take responsibility for anything that happened to the learner.

This study was a controlled observation, the advantages of it being a controlled observation is that this study is then relatively easy to replicate as proved when Milgram did the 17(?) other studies and the various other studies that have been done in the last 50 years by different researchers. As quite a bit of the data was quantitative it is really quite easy to analyse as shown in Milgram being able to get a lot of his data into percentages (e.g. 65%).

In Milgram’s study a lot of people argue that a lot of people argue that most of this study wasn’t Ethical, Milgram deceived his ppts in to believing that they were participating in a study about learning and how an electric shock can help to improve your memory, when it was in fact about obedience. Under respect of the core ethics there is ‘Right to withdraw’, only before they began was this true while in the first room but after it began the “experimenter” had four prods (according to Milgram but according to Perry when re-listening to the tapes of the study there were as many as 25 prods in some instances) and only after those four was the ppt allowed to leave. This experiment could have been extremely traumatising and I don’t think that was right but as I was saying this meant that the ppts did not have the immediate right to withdraw. I believe that Milgram did keep all his ppts in complete confidentiality and the ppts did give consent as it was in fact a self-selected sample so they all did consent to being part of the study. According to Milgram all the ppts were debriefed and told the “learner” was in fact still alive and hadn’t once been shocked, this comes under the core ethical principal responsibility, well-being/protection from harm, but as I said before until they were debriefed the ppts did believe they had shocked someone unconscious/dead, and I think that could cause some extremely upsetting feelings. In Milgram’s defence though he didn’t believe, and nor did his psychology students, that so many ppts would go so far as to 450 volts.

Externally this is not Mundane Realism, not something that would happen on a daily basis, when would you actually have to give someone repeated electric shocks? Another thing is that since this study was done in a lab in a university, it is also not the most normal setting so it is not very ecologically valid. The ppts don’t reflect the population as a whole, as they were all American males between the ages of 20-50 though in the Holocaust, the males that worked under Hitler were of the age and gender of the ppts Milgram used.

Milgram had a very unrepresentative sample, he chose only American men, but with various backgrounds, this was him being deliberately ethnocentric, trying to find out whether Americans would be as obedient as the German soldiers in the Holocaust.

The quantitative data consisted of the amount of ppts that went how high up with the voltages. For example 100% of the ppts went all the way up to 300 volts but only 65% went any higher to 450 volts. Quantitative data is easy to analyse and put into graphs and charts, the problem with it though is that Milgram couldn’t use the quantitative data to see any further than the numbers, in his own analysis, Milgram would have had to refer back to other data, which is where the Qualitative Data comes in. The qualitative data would have referred to the moral strain the ppts were feeling, stress resulting in hair pulling, asking questions like “who would be responsible?” The problem is that without the quantitative data again, it wouldn’t make much sense, you need both for the full picture.


Friday, 21 April 2017

Who? - Short Story

As I fell asleep last night, it happened again. He turned up in my dream. But I can’t describe him. Maybe he had blond hair. Perhaps not.
I sat at my desk this morning. I was tired. Coffee keeps my eyes open just enough to make it look like I am doing work. Chris walked up to me, I sat up straight, widening my eyes. He looked confused then said, “Dan, at this company we expect a certain level of work that is handed in” I glared at him, “sorry sir, I didn’t sleep well last night, I keep having weird dreams and waking up suddenly.” Chris thought for a second, evaluating the situation in front of him and how he can solve it in the most efficient way. “Take a weekend off” he said to me, “and if you don’t you will lose your job, you need a break”
I have a small suitcase in the side car of my bike. I felt calm. He hadn’t turned up in my dream last night. I am glad of that. Maybe he had blue eyes. It was possible.
As I rounded the last corner I reached the cottage, Hannah my neighbour had let me stay in it for the weekend. She had agreed with Chris, and while driving I began to agree too, I needed a break. The cottage was beautiful, there was a lake in front of it, and it was surrounded by pine trees. Secluded. Alone. That is how I like things. Hannah says it’s not good for me up I do not agree. A took the key out of the ignition and picked up my suitcase, pulling out the handle I rolled it up to the door. Finding the key I let myself in, flicking on the light switch as I passed through the entrance.  The room was cosy, in one wall was a fireplace set up with a lighter next to it.
The room is warm. I am sure I fell asleep in front of the fire because even though the room hasn’t changed he is there. He looks different. He looks scared. He looks like he is screaming. I wake.
I went to the kitchen and started cooking pasta, and heating up a tomato sauce I found in the cupboard. I went up to the fridge to get a bottle of beer. Suddenly I was scared, on the front of the fridge was a picture. He was in the picture on the fridge. He was blond. He did have blue eyes. I ran back to the front room, picked up the phone and rang Hannah. I was in a frenzy. She picked up, I practically shouted down the phone asking who the person on the fridge was. She didn’t answer for a second, then said “nobody, there aren’t any pictures on the fridge or in the house at all. I glanced around, she was right about the second one but I could see the picture on the fridge from the phone. I described the person in the photo, she thought then said “there’s a book on the shelf called, uh. Something like pinewood house… history by some woman, the person you described sounds like a guy from one of the pictures in that book.” I was confused when I hung up. I glanced around the room till I saw the book shelf, slowly walking over I found a book that looked like it had been together rather hastily. It was called ‘A History of Pinewood House’ by Maria Smithson. I sat down with a beer and opened the first page. The first thing I noticed was that it was all hand written, the date said 1975. As I continued slowly flicking through the book I noticed that things had been stuck in roughly, it looked like Smithson had been working against the clock when she wrote this.
I turn over the page and there is him. But this time I know I’m awake, he looks like he did in the picture on the fridge but in my dreams he looks tired, older somehow.
Hannah is the only person I don’t mind being with. My foster parents only kept me so they would get money off the government to help take care of me. They and anyone else makes me feel like I’m a freak. And I’m not. I’m not ill. I don’t any disorders. The only thing wrong with me is I’m allergic to peanuts. Hannah has lived next door to me for years, as long as I can remember actually. She has stormy blue eyes and purple blue hair, which she lets me dye. I can’t dye my hair because Chris says “It would bring the company down to let people be that unprofessional” so I dye Hannah’s hair. She doesn’t mind. It means she can read her book. She has a different one every 2 days. It makes me smile. Hannah, before I left told me that her family had owned the little cottage for years, so anything in it would have sentimental value. I respect that. Looking at the picture of him made me think. I wanted to know who he was. Under the picture was a passage of writing. Him, he was called Thomas. He was young in the picture but it looked like it had been added after 1975, in the last few months. It was almost brand new.
I’ve fallen asleep. He isn’t there. Thomas isn’t there. Hannah is there. I never dream about Hannah. She was smiling. Reading her book. I was dying her hair the purple blue she liked.
I woke up. Someone was shaking me, sitting up I saw him. Thomas. He was looking at me funny, like I had done something. Sitting up I looked at him. I could feel that I had the same expression on my face as he did. As he stared right into my eyes, he suddenly looked terrified. “I know you” he whispered under his breath. He then straightened up shaking his head. “Sorry” he said in a strained voice. I still hadn’t said a thing. I had no idea what to say. Then after straightening myself I said simply, “I know you too. You were in my dreams. And on the fridge. And in the book.” He glanced down at the book lying open, now on the floor. And saw a picture of himself. He looked older and more tired than in the photo. He looked like how he looked in my dreams. But not as scared. I glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, it was 2.30am. “Why are you here?” he asked me slowly, calculating things in his head. I thought for a second then said,  matter of factually “I needed a break from work. My neighbour says she owned the cottage and that I could stay in it. I got here earlier. What about you?” He thought for a bit then shrugged. “Is that your bike outside?” he asked. I decided it was better to answer than ask the question again. “Yes” I reply. He nodded slowly. “Who are you?” I asked in a way that meant ‘I had better get an answer or else’. He thought. “Thomas”. He said it like that was all that needed to be said. He kept looking at me like he half recognised me. I decided to put out a hand of friendship, “do you want a beer?” I asked. He shook his head. “Who’s your neighbour?” he asked. “Hannah, Hannah Jones” He thought for a second. I didn’t know what answer to that I was expecting but it wasn’t the one he then said. “My aunt… Purple blue hair?” I nodded. I could feel the surprise on my face. “I thought she had no family”. He replied almost immediately with “she would say that. We aren’t on the best terms. I ran away when her and my mum agreed to put my brother up for adoption. I left. But not before having a huge argument with them.
I am tired. He is here and I am not asleep. He is standing in front of me and I am awake. I don’t know what is happening.
We sat in silence for an hour and 8 minutes. I was okay with that. I could just pretend I was alone. Or I could have almost pretended. He kept looking at me funny. I didn’t see it happen but I could feel his eyes on me. Then he said “what is your family like?” I shrugged. I jumped about foster homes till I was 16 because of “attitude” problems. Then at 16 I got fostered by a family who didn’t care. They just wanted money. Then I turned 18 and moved. Legally I still live there, that means the family still gets my money but I live alone working at a company that doesn’t let me dye my hair.” He looked down at the book which had still been on the floor since I woke up and picked it up. Looking at the picture of himself. He shook his head, saying “this is not a good photo” he then stood up and left the room. 12 minutes later he came back with a photo. Looking at the photo Thomas stood there. He was about 4 but recognisable. Next to him was a 2 year old. Brown hair. Hazel eyes. Like me. I stared at the photo. Thomas looked at me. Then said slowly. “That is you. Isn’t it?” I stared at him. “Impossible,” I said “I don’t have any family.” Thomas looked at me strange, “your name isn’t Dan then?” I was shocked. I hadn’t told him my name. He tilted his head. “Did Hannah look after you well?” I nodded, still in shock.
How can I have family? That is what is in my head. He isn’t making sense. Is he?
I could tell he knew he’d freaked me out. But he kept staring at me anyway. I had no idea what he was waiting for. After 10 minutes. He jumped up so suddenly I got scared all over again. He then smiled. But I still wasn’t. I glanced at him. He was tall. Taller than me. “How were you in my dreams?” I asked. The smile from his face suddenly vanished. “I’m not sure.” He looked concerned. “When did they start?” he asked. I shrugged, “only a few weeks ago. But I’ve been losing sleep over it.” Then he asked me the same question. My answer was the same as his. I didn’t know what to do with the information. “You were scared in my dreams” I said. He looked up quickly, “I did?” I nodded. “You looked happy in my dreams, you had a huge smile on your face sitting with someone in a café.” I shook my head. “That’s not right.” He looked at me questioning. I thought and then said “I don’t sit with people in cafés, I rarely sit with people at all. Only Hannah.” He was looking at me but wasn’t actually looking. He had a glazed look. Then he smiled again. “We should go. Now!” I shook my head, “its 4 am. I’ve been drinking. It would not be a good idea for me to drive.” Thomas grabbed the keys off the side. “Silly boy, grab that book, I’ll drive. But you’ll have to give me directions. I don’t know my way places.” I thought for a second, then decided that this boy was going to be persistent, I picked up the book and grabbed my coat. He was already outside, I switched off the lights and locked the front door. I put the key safely in my pocket that zipped up so things didn’t fall out. I pulled on my coat and hugging the book I walked over to the bike. He looked slightly stressed while holding the helmet which I’d left on top of the bike seat. I took the key out of his hand and opened the back of the side car. Out came an extra helmet. Thomas smiled. I pulled the helmet on my head. He put the other one on and we both got on.
I am trying to stay awake on this journey. I only slept a few hours. I had been drinking. I am pointing out which way he needs to drive.
I told him to stop outside my house. It was Sunday. It was 7 am. Hannah would be walking out the house in half an hour. She was going to church. She did that most Sundays. Not always but most. She would be up though. I pulled the helmet off my helmet and turned to Thomas. “Do you want to say hello to your aunt?” I made quotation marks with my fingers when I said ‘aunt’. He gave me a nod. And jumped off the bike. I climbed out of the side car. I was going to go into the house. I was tired. Thomas stopped me. “No you are coming with me. She is going to tell you the truth herself.” I sighed. But I didn’t argue. I followed him up the drive of Hannah’s house. He rang the doorbell twice. Hannah came to the door, her coloured hair was tied up in a loose bun above her hair. She smiled at me, then turned her head to look at Thomas. Now she was glaring. Then her expression changed again. It had turned into to fear. I was confused. Why was she scared? Maybe Thomas had hurt her. Then I had noticed her eyes kept darting between the two of us. She was scared of what we might have told each other. Suddenly I realised everything he had said was true. “What the fuck are you doing here Tom?” He smiled. A cheeky smile that a child makes when they have done something that they shouldn’t have done but that they enjoyed doing. “Well it is lovely to see you again auntie Han.” Her eyes were still darting between us when he had said this. Thomas then said slowly and calculated, “He knows. I told him all of it.” She looked down. She was embarrassed. Then she walked back into the house. Thomas followed Hannah. I followed Thomas. She turned and looked at us. We were all pretty much the same age give or take 5 years, yet she spoke to us like we were 20 years younger than her. “Thomas, we had to give up Dan. It couldn’t be helped. Your mother didn’t have money. She could barely handle Thomas and then she got pregnant again. She tried. But couldn’t deal with it. I found you later though, Dan and I told myself I’d look after you. Even if I promised your mother that I’d never tell you who you really were. I’m glad they didn’t change you name while you were in the system.” She looked sad. Thomas glanced at me. I didn’t have any idea what to do.

I have a family. In a weekend away I didn’t want to take I discovered a family. Thomas is a great brother. He is helping me. I am starting to enjoy being with other people besides just Hannah. We have both forgiven her. I am becoming a better person than what I was. I quit my job. I hated it anyway. They were mean. I am happy now.