Evaluate Milgram’s Experiment 10 (8)

One strength of Experiment 10 is that it might be seen as having greater ecological validity than Experiment 5 where people’s behaviour may have been affected by demand characteristics as they knew they were in a scientific experiment and did not believe that Yale researchers would allow anything bad to happen to the learner. This variation took place in a rundown, office building in the downtown area of Bridgeport, (a nearby industrial city) as opposed to the prestige setting of Yale and therefore participants might have shown more natural behaviour as they were not in a university setting where they may have questioned why another Yale staff member was not helping Milgram.

This chain of reason has embedded AO1 and is specific to variation 10. Iot is evaluative in flavour from the outset and uses terminology effectively throughout.

Furthermore, the variation also could be argued to have a high level of internal validity, as the participants were also likely to have believed in the set-up, not for example imagining that the shocks were fake. This is because Milgram was careful to create changes to the letterhead of the mail circular that participants received to make it look like it was coming from a private firm (Research Associates of Bridgeport) conducting research for industry. This also helped to ensure that the Pps could not guess that the study was related to Yale in anyway, thus operationalising the independent variable (prestige versus non-prestigious) successfully.

Again the AO1 is embedded and specific to variation 10 with effective use of terminology.

Milgram ensured many similarities between Experiment 10 and his baseline , Experiment 5 such as using the same actors, Mr Wallace and Mr Williams  and keeping everything else such as the generator and the scripted prods exactly the same meaning that differences in the obedience rate (47.5% compared with 65%) could only be caused by the independent variable of the environment and nothing else. This is strength of the study as the internal validity is good.

More specific AO1 but an evaluative flavour, definitely starting to need a competing argument though as all a bit positive so far!

Although this study has clear applications, some have argued that Milgram was unethical in his variations; he already knew that participants were becoming very disturbed by what they were doing, yet he continued to run the procedure. In fact there is evidence to suggest that the Bridgeport Pps showed slightly greater tension and perceived the shocks to be slightly more painful than in the original study. This is a weakness of the study as participants were not being protected from psychological harm, although it could be argued that the benefits to society outweigh the costs as explaining destructive obedience and other unthinking acts where we trust authority without question can help us to avoid committing acts which would normally go against out better judgement.

In Milgram’s own words “If commands of a potentially harmful or destructive sort are to be perceived as legitimate they must occur within some sort of institutional structure. But it is clear from this study that it needs not be a particularly reputable or distinguished institution”, no evidence of “benevolence or competence” seem necessary. He likens this to depositing money in a seedy looking bank without thinking about how secure it is.

In conclusion, it can be seen that this variation shares many similar strengths and limitations as his other studies, including strong internal validity and reliability but somewhat weak generalisability and ethics. Despite its shortcomings, it provides a vivid illustration of the unquestioning trust we put in authority even in the most unlikely of settings.