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Degree: Psychology (Applied) (Bachelors) - Durham University
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Obedience involves people behaving as they instructed to, while conformity involves people behaving according to group norms. Within obedience, the person is influenced by an authority figure, while conformity involves the person being influenced by the social group. Obedience involves following somebody with social power, where conformity involves people wanting to be accepted.
Stanley Milgram was an American social psychologist who was known for his controversial study called the Milgram Experiment. Milgram was influenced by the effects of the Nazi Holocaust, thus he wanted to investigate the relationship between obedience and authority. The participants of the study were told that the aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between learning and punishment. All of the participants were unknowingly signed the role of teachers whereas the confederates were signed as learners. The teacher was seated in a different room to that of the learner who was strapped to an electric generator. The teacher was seated in front of the generator. The shocks ranged from 15volts to 450volts going up in 15volt intervals. The job of the teacher was to ask the learner questions on word pairs, ensuring an electric shock was given when a mistake was made. The learner didn’t actually receive the shocks but hey acted as though they did. At 315V the learner let out violent screams and at 330V there was silence. The experimenter would give out verbal prods such as ‘the experiment requires that you continue’ if the teacher began to hesitate.
All participants went to 300V and 65% carried on to the 450V, compared to that of a predicted 1% before the experiment. This concluded that ordinary people are capable of causing harm upon another when told to do so by an authority figure. Milgram’s study also shows that obedience is situational instead of down to someone’s personality.
Milgram’s study couldn’t be generalised to the population in today’s society due to the fact that it was conducted in the 1960’s, where the moral values of people in America during the 1960’s may different to how they are today. The experiment was also conducted on males and within America therefore this leads to no evidence that the same results would be collected in different countries around the world and with females. The experiment isn’t very reliable and can’t really be applied to society today for the same reasons as above, that it was conducted within the 60’s where the moral values in society may have been different to that of today and it was also only conducted with men and in one country, meaning it can’t be used to back up the reaction of people from other cultures and women. The experiment would be valid in the sense that the participants weren’t aware of the true aim of the experiment therefore demand characteristics couldn’t come into play. However the experiment could be criticised for not being very ethical because of the fact that the participants were never briefed fully at the beginning of the experiment and were initially deceived. The participants may have also experienced long term psychologically affects after the experiment at knowing that they have the potential to cause harm to another person and maybe even kill them. The experiment wasn’t very ecologically valid because of the fact that it was conducted within a laboratory, which isn’t very representative of what may occur in real life, however a laboratory experiment would mean that extraneous variables would be easier to control.
Milgram did several studies of obedience and he altered aspects of his original study to explore whether this would affect the levels of obedience. When the change in location was altered, from when the orders were given in an important location, like Yale University, to a run-down office, the levels of obedience dropped to 47.5%. The obedience levels dropped due to the level of prestige decreasing. It also drops due to the legitimate authority that the experimenter has when the orders are being given in a run-down office. The authority figure doesn’t appear to have legitimate authority because they cannot give a legitimate order when they are in the location that they are in. This location would be inappropriate and out of context for the participant as it doesn’t make sense for this order to be given in a run-down office, thus obedience levels dropping.
When the proximity of the learner was changed, where the learner was placed in the same room as the teacher, obedience dropped to 40% When the teacher had to hold the learners hand on the electrocution plate, obedience further dropped to 30% Obedience dropped in this case due to the teacher being in an autonomous state. This is where the teacher would feel more responsible for what happens to the learner and they would have a higher sense of personal responsibility as they can actually see the learner in front of them and in the latter case, they have to hold their hand onto the electrocution plate.
When the proximity of the authority figure was altered, where they left the room and gave their orders by telephone, it was easier to resist the orders from the authority figure if they were not close by. When the authority figure is close by, the person is more likely to obey the experimenter. When the experimenter left the room and gave order via telephone, obedience levels dropped to 20.5% Obedience dropped when the experimenter left the room because the participants not being directly around them in the same room reduces the legitimate authority that the experimenter has. As the authority figure was giving their orders through the telephone from another room, this made their orders appear less legitimate for the participant as they weren’t directly around them to place pressure on them. This could also be the participant being in the autonomous state because as the authority figure has left the room, if someone were to come into the room, they’d be the one to blame so there is a sense of personal responsibility there.
Milgram also placed two teachers in the same room rather than them working alone. One teacher was a confederate and a disobedient model. They started to object to carrying on with the experiment and eventually stopped. With this change obedience dropped to 10%. This is due to the move for the participant from the agentic state, where they believe the responsibility is in the hands of the authority figure, to the autonomous state, where the participant has a greater sense of personal responsibility. As the participant is receiving motivation to stand up for what is right from the confederate, it gives the participant confidence to take personal responsibility for the learner and disobey with the stooge, thus obedience dropping to 10%.
When the participant was paired with a confederate teacher who was administrating the shocks and the participants were just asking the questions, obedience rose to 92.5%. This rise in obedience levels is down to the teacher being in the agentic state. As it is the confederate teacher that is administrating the shocks to the learner and they are merely just asking the questions, they may just believe that they do not have as great of a personal responsibility for the learner. If somebody was to walk into the room, it would be the confederate that would get into the most trouble as the participant isn’t the one directly giving the shocks so they wouldn’t consider themselves to be as responsible.
Due to the fact that Milgram’s study was criticised for not being ecologically valid because it was conducted in a laboratory, there were also other experiments conducted within more real life scenarios that were less artificial. Within the Nurse Study by Hofling, a nurse was told to give a patient a drug, breaching hospital rules even though being told that these were apparently instructions from a doctor. This broke the guidelines as there was no signed order from a doctor however the nurses were stopped before giving the medication. Despite the fact that 21 out of 22 nurses obeyed, this is still a very small sample and still not very representative. It contradicted Milgram’s study as it showed very high obedience levels when instructions were given over the telephone and it was ethically unacceptable as the nurses weren’t allowed to give consent to the study and had to option to withdraw.
Another real life study was the New York Streets study by Bickman. This experiment saw whether uniform would affect obedience. Three researchers were dressed either as a guard, civilian or a milkman and were giving orders such as to pick up litter. The results were that there was much more obedience with the guard, supporting that visual symbols of authority increases obedience. This experiment supported that of Milgram’s findings as it showed status affected levels of obedience however it is questionable how representative the study was of the whole population due to the use of opportunity sampling, it only tested who was there at the time.
It is believed that the 21 out of 22 nurses who went ahead and obeyed the orders were in the agentic state because they did truly believe that the responsibility of giving this drug and the potential consequences of it would be down to the doctor even though they were breaking guidelines. The nurses had no sense of personal responsibility as they believed that lied with the doctor and they would face the consequences. The 1 nurse who chose to disobey and follow the hospital guidelines was indeed in the autonomous state as they recognised that they had the personal responsibility of what happened to the patient as they were the one administrating and prescribing the drug and if something bad was to happen to them, then it would be their fault and their doing.
The Guard appeared to have the legitimate authority in this experiment due to the uniform that he was in. It would make sense to the participants that it would be legit for a guard to instruct residents to pick up their litter from the street as that is part of their job role therefore their order was in context and wasn’t confusing to the participants, hence it being a legitimate order. The orders of the Milkman and the civilian were ignored because their orders were in the incorrect context and they would have appeared confusing to the participants. As it was not their standard profession to instruct people on the streets of New York, they would not have legitimate authority to make these orders because these orders were out of context within society.see more
One way that is used for measuring crime is official statistics which involves comparing statistics from government bodies and agencies, such as the police, courts and prisons. Official statistics come from the annual report from the Office of National Statistics. Statistics of crime that have been reported in recent official reports are examples like 7.3 million reports of crime against household and residents for year ending March 2014. It has also been found that crime has fallen by 14% in England and Wales between 1981 and 2014.
One strength of this method of measuring crime is that it is based on police, courts and prison ‘facts’ that are supposed to be a reliable source as they are from a trusted government agency. This method is also more objective than other methods because it doesn’t rely on potentially inaccurate personal measures, for example self-reports, which could be biased against the criminals themselves as it is merely their point of view that they are giving.
On the other hand, one limitation of official statistics is that the evidence from the police is underestimated as the crime has to be reported in order for the crime to be accounted for, with Hollin suggesting that only 25% of crime is actually reported. Evidence from the courts is also underestimated as the defendant can’t be charged for the crime if there isn’t enough evidence against them and criminals are sometimes only convicted one of the several crimes that they commit. The figures that are also collected from the official statistics can be found to be distorted because there are different reporting policies within different police forces and the Government may tweak results in order to suit their election campaign. Farrington and Dowd’s study demonstrates how police recording procedures can distort official statistics. Police in Nottinghamshire were more likely to record thefts of less than £10 compared to that of Staffordshire and Leicestershire who considered crimes below this value were regarded as minor and were not recorded. Thus the crime rate (the number of crimes per unit of population per year) in Nottingham was higher than the other 2 counties as the police recorded the crime differently in Nottinghamshire.
Another method that can be used for measuring crime is Victim Surveys which actually gather a first-hand account from the victims themselves about any crime they have experienced. The British Crime Survey (BCS) is an example of a victim survey which measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking 50000 people about any incidents of crime that they have experienced in the past year and whether they reported it to the police. This survey is handed out to the public every two years and requests their information to be relevant to the previous year. There was a peak of 19 million crimes in 1995 although levels of crime have decreased and stabilised by 2005, at just over 10000 BCS crimes. The number of crimes that have been reported to the police in the 2000’s has increased over this period due to changes in rules governing the measure for crime, police recording procedures and actual reporting from the public.
One strength of this method for measuring crime is due to the sample and the fact that it can be considered a large sample, with there being 50000 participants every two years so it provides a decent representation of the crime that is occurring in England and Wales and how many people are being affected. There is also no sampling bias as everyone over the age of 16 has an equal chance of being selected and they are now recently giving the age range of 10-16 year olds to take part in the survey, despite over previous years, the BCS survey not including the younger years and their criminal experiences.
However a limitation of victim surveys is that the recollection of the crimes reported may be inaccurate because the memories of the actual crime may be too painful to recall therefore they may not go into detail on the events that occurred as they don’t want to drag up the past. The memory of the incident may also be distorted by the time that the survey is handed out as the participant may have forgotten particular details that may be vital.
Further weaknesses of this method of measuring crime is that fact that it doesn’t take into account the first year of the two years that the survey is given out because it only asks for accounts of crime that has happened over the previous year. Another issue that comes up with victim surveys is the potential for a freak sample which may occur if the sample is chosen at random. If they get a freak sample of surveys this may not be truly representative of the entire population.
When measuring crime it is frequently found that the statistics that are gathered from each method tend to contradict each other. For example, official statistics show that there is a 2% decrease during 2006/7 from the previous year however results from the BCS suggests that there has actually been a 3% increase in overall crime. Official statistics also demonstrate how there has been a 1% decrease in violent robbery and 7% in sexual offences nevertheless the BCS figures show that there has been a 5% increase in violent crime. The obvious difference between the official statistics of recorded crime and the victim surveys suggest that there is a dark figure of crime, which can be defined as the difference between the official level of crime recorded through the official statistics and the actual amount of crime which occurs. Crimes that occur may not be detected, reported or recorded by the official figures.
This dark figure of crime may occur for two particular reasons, that police don’t record all the crime that is reported to them or that not all victims of crime report the crime to the police in the first place but may discuss them on a victim survey, thus explaining the difference found amongst the official statistics and the victim surveys. Some police may not record particular crimes if they believe they are too minor whereas some may even record crimes with an informal policy rather than always sticking to the officially stated policy, which is demonstrated through the Farrington and Dowd’s study. Some police may not record a certain crime if they deem it not to be serious or ‘worth their time,’ for example if someone has been stealing your plant pots, it is technically a crime however something like that may not be deemed creating a fuss over. Some crimes that occur police may regard to be a domestic issue that should be dealt within the institution that it occur inside, for example a university campus, which police believe should be solved internally.
There are also many reasons behind why people won’t report the crimes that they experience to the police directly but instead talk about it within the victim surveys handed out. Some victims are unaware that they are victims of crime, for example a child that is currently being abused or an OAP who has been a victim of fraud and doesn’t understand how wrong the actions of the offender were. Another reason may be that the victim thinks that they won’t be believed by the police or that they’ll take them seriously, such as rape victims. These particular victims may also be uneasy over the legal processes that will occur if the case gets taken to trial and them having to be cross examined by lawyers and the cost and length of the process, which can put people off reporting criminal behaviour. Some won’t report a crime if they were actually breaking the law themselves when the crime actually occurred so are afraid of being prosecuted for their own actions, for example a drug dealer being cheated out of their money and beaten up. The victim may also be afraid of any repercussions that may happen if after the criminal has been arrested and then gets released, they may worry about the offender coming back to find them as revenge and receiving threats to you or your family.
To conclude it is clear that there are many limitations to the methods that are used for measuring crime, thus creating a false representation of the actual crime that is occurring within England and Wales. The vast difference between the results that are found through both official statistics and victim surveys show how neither are totally reliable and there is a large amount of crime that is unrecorded by the police or not even reported to the police by the victim for several reasons. Therefore this means that it is unclear how much crime is actually occurring out there and how much of this crime the methods in Britain are actually picking up on.see more
Memory is essential for everyday functioning and can be described as the retention of learning and experience. There are three stages of the way we process things into our memory: encoding, storage and retrieval. Encoding transform incoming information into a form that can be stored into memory. Storage holds the information in the memory until it is needed, where retrieval gets it out in order for it to be used.
According to the multi store model for memory, memory is divided into three sections, sensory, short term and long term. The function of sensory memory is retaining information long enough to decide whether or not it is worthy of further processing. Information in this memory is only stored for up to one or two seconds.
Information in the short term memory can be held visually, acoustically and semantically, there is evidence for this however the main encoding system for short term is acoustically. It has a very limited capacity of 7+-2 items of information however this number can be increased using the method of chunking, where you separate items into chunks, making it easier to remember. The digit span test measures the capacity of the short term memory and children who struggle to read and write usually score very low on digit span tests.
Information, when rehearsed, can be kept in the short term memory for more than 30 seconds when verbally recalling in the rehearsal loop. Items that are unrehearsed get forgotten through displacement. The duration of the short term memory was measured using the Brown-Peterson technique. Participants were given trigrams which they had to recall after varying amounts of time from 0-18 seconds. They had to then do an interference task to prevent the participants from rehearsing. Only 10% of the trigrams were recalled after 18 seconds, this being the new, average duration of the short term memory.
The long term memory differs from that of the short term as it has unlimited capacity. Atkinson and Shiffrin claimed that forgetting in the long term memory occurs due to confusion between similar long term memories and not being able to find the appropriate memory trace. Encoding in the long term memory appears to be semantic and the duration of long term memory is a lifetime.
The primacy and recency effect supports the multi store model for memory because it argues the fact that short term and long term memory are two separate stores in memory. In Murdock’s study, participants had to learn a list of words that varied in length from 10 to 30 words and free recall them, with each word being viewed for 2 seconds. The results were the words from the beginning of the list (primacy) and words from the end of the list (recency) were remembered. However the words in the middle (Asymptotes) were usually forgotten. Words early in the list were stored in long term memory because the person had time to rehearse the word and the words at the end of the list were still fresh in the short term memory so they were easily recalled. Asymptotes had been there too long to be in the short term memory however weren’t rehearsed enough to be stored in the long term memory, so they were discarded through displacement. Although this study supports the model as it shows that two separate stores are used in recalling the words, the study does lack ecological validity as it is not an everyday life experience to recall words.
The study of HM supports the model because it shows that the long term and short term memories are two distinct stores. After having his hippocampus accidently removed due to surgery for epilepsy, his short term memory remained intact. However after the accident, HM’s long term memory had been damaged as he was unable to form new memories. He couldn’t transfer new information into his long term memory. Despite being able to remember people he had known long ago, new people he had encountered were like strangers to him. There are specific deficits in which some abilities, such as learning new information are impaired whilst others like language are quite normal.
Evidence against the model is the idea of flashbulb memories. It contradicts the multi store model as information appears to have gotten into the long term memory without having to be rehearsed. Indeed in everyday life we rarely ever rehearse information yet we have little problem in storing huge amounts of it so this idea criticises the idea of rehearsal. Individuals can have significant occurrences happen to them in their lifetime that only happen once ad they will remember these memories without the need to rehearse them.
Many of the studies that were conducted in order to investigate the idea of the multi store model for memory were criticised for lacking in ecological validity. Many of the studies supporting the model used laboratory experiments, for example the study of Murdock on the primacy and recency effect and the study of the digit span capacity. They can therefore be criticised in terms of ecological validity and demand characteristics as it was evident that participants were being involved in an experiment so therefore could have guessed the aim and it was also artificial as it is not an everyday life occurrence to remember digits in that context. These experiments tell us very little on how memory works in real life.
The study of KF also criticises the model because KFs visual short term memory remained undamaged after brain damage due to a motorbike accident and KF could also store long term memories without them needing to pass through his damaged long term memory. This criticises the model in two ways: according to the multi store model, memories have to pass through the short term memory in order to be stored in the long term memory. KF’s verbal short term memory was damaged despite his visual memory being intact, suggesting that the short term memory isn’t a unitary store, with different parts dedicated to processing different types of information.
Korsakov’s syndrome supports the model as alcoholics may get Korsakov’s syndrome. They will forget all material and are unable to transfer information from their short term memories into their long term memories. This again supports the notion that the long term and short term memories are two separate stores because alcoholics with Korsakov’s syndrome need their short term memory in order to transfer information from it to their long term memory.
The model is also criticised for over simplifying the idea and concept of memory with its views on long term and short term memory structures operating in this single, unitary fashion and we now know that this isn’t the case. Cases like that of KF shows that the short term memory doesn’t work in a unitary fashion because he was able to make visual memories however his short term verbal memory was damaged. Rehearsal is important in some cases of making new memories however the multi store model emphasised too much on the rehearsal loop because in everyday life we rarely ever rehearse information yet we remember a lot of things.see more