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Burger (2009) replicates Milgram’s experiment to verify that obedience rate among people does not differ greatly from that reported by Milgram in the 1960s. Burger (2009) argues that though some changes have taken place in the society, people still tend to obey in specific settings.
The researcher’s hypothesis is that “any differences in obedience between the 1961-1962 participants … and the 2006 participants would be minimal” (Burger, 2009, p. 4). The researcher also tries to define whether gender can influence the level of obedience.
He also argues that people will disobey if they can rely on specific knowledge. Interestingly, the researcher supports his hypothesis with specific data obtained during replicating Milgram’s experiments.
Evaluation of Milgram’s Studies
Burger (2009) reveals the major peculiarities of the research and focuses on the results obtained. The author also reveals four major factors which are considered to be vital in developing people’s obedience. Thus, the first factor the researcher reveals is obedience to authority.
Burger (2009, p. 3) argues that people tend to obey if “the person’s authority is seen as legitimate”. The second factor mentioned is “incremental nature of the task” (Burger, 2009, p. 3).
Thus, the researcher argues that if people did not gradually increase voltage (but started with high voltage, in the first place), this would influence the level of obedience. Besides, the researchers also states that one more factor that influences the level of people’s obedience is availability of information in an unknown situation.
In other words, the researcher assumes that if people knew that they could stop at any moment (or if they saw that someone actually stopped at certain point), the participants would tend to show lower rate of obedience.
The researcher claims that the lack of such kind of information makes participants rely on their own experience. Finally, Burger (2009) also states that absence of responsibility also contributes greatly to aggressive behavior.
The researcher dwells upon ethical issues concerning Milgram’s studies. First, the author assumes that “the 150-volt switch is something of a point of no return” (Burger, 2009, p. 2). In other words, Burger (2009) claims that Milgram’s studies show that the participants, who continued the procedure after the 150-switch, were likely to continue till the end.
Therefore, the author concludes that there is no need in making participants go much further as it is clear that a participant, who goes on after the “point of no return”, is likely continue till the end.
Secondly, the author reveals some more steps undertaken to secure participants’ welfare. Thus, the participants were explicitly told they could stop at any moment and keep their payment. The participants could also refuse to try the volt shock (though only 2 did refuse).
At that, only the minimum (15-volt) shock was administered. The person who ran the experiment was a psychologist who could stop the experiment if necessary. Finally, Burger (2009, p. 2) states that the procedures chosen were approved by “the Santa Clara University institutional review board”.
Burger (2009) depicts the recruitment procedures in detail. Thus, volunteers had to pass several verification procedures. At that, prospective participants had to be ignorant to Milgram’s studies, should not have taken any psychology courses.
Finally, those who took medication for depression or any other psychological disorder treatment were illegible to the study. Eventually, 29 males and 41 females took part in the study. The age of the participants ranged from 20 to 81. The procedure was based on Milgram’s experiments, though there were some differences.
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First, the participants did not have to continue till the 450-volt shock. The present experiment was confined to about 150-volt shock. Furthermore, as has been mentioned above participants were repeatedly told that they could stop at any moment. More so, some participants were exposed to specific knowledge.
There was one confederate Teacher who refused to continue after the 90-volt shock. Thus, some participants could rely on the example of the previous individual. Finally, Burger (2009) also paid attention to such variable as gender.
Results and Discussion
Burger (2009) reports that the results he obtained do not differ greatly from those obtained by Milgram. Burger (2009) adds that he cannot be sure whether the participants would go as far as 450-volt shock as the experiments were stopped at about 150-volt shock.
However, the researcher claims that it is possible to assume that those who pass the point of no return would go till the end based on the results of Milgram’s experiments. Burger (2009) though claims that he anticipated that modeled procedure will result in lower rates of obedience, but the results do not differ from those obtained by Milgram.
Thus, 70% of participants continued after 150 volts in base conditions and 63.3% continued in modeled refusal conditions, whereas 82.5% continued during Milgram’s experiment. As for gender variable, Burger (2009) reports that no significant difference was observed.
However, females tended to be more obedient than males. Thus, the researcher concludes that even though certain changes have taken place in the society, the level of people’s obedience has not changed since the 1960s.
Burger, J.M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today? American Psychological Association, 64(1), 1-11.