KEY WORDS• Agentic State - A mental condition; suggests independence and conscience
are suppressed; acting as an agent/on behalf of someone else
• Autonomous State - A mental condition; a person is independent in their
thoughts and actions; conscience is fully active
• Moral Strain - The consequences of going against your conscience and
doing something you know is wrong
• Social Categorisation - The act of grouping people according to some
• Social Identification - The act of personally accepting that you belong to a
particular group by accepting their norms and values
• Social Comparison - The act of comparing social groups with each other
• In-Group/Out-Group - Either a group that you believe yourself to be a part
of, or a group that has something in common with your group, but you are
• Informed consent -
• Deceit - Deliberately misleading or not informing the participant in
research about the nature and aims of the research or some
aspect of it
• Right to withdraw - The participant’s right to leave a research study
at any stage and to take their data with them
• Debrief - The process of advising the participant what the true
aims and nature of the study were and gaining their insights about
the research process
• Competence - The capacity to deal professionally with issues that
arise during the course of a research programme
• Behaviour is caused by things outside of ourselves;
1. Individuals and groups affect behaviour (you act
differently with your friends than you do with your
2.Culture and Society affects behaviour (women have
to walk behind men in some cultures ect.)
3. Field experiments & surveys
4. Obedience and prejudice
• Obedience is following an order given by a
person with recognised authority over you.
• Most of the time, this is a sensible thing to do, for
example, following orders given by a police officer
or a teacher.
• However, obedience has sometimes been
blamed for ordinary people committing horrible
acts, for example, Nazi soldiers following Hitler’s
MILGRAM’S STUDY OF
OBEDIENCE - DESCRIPTION• A - To measure how obedient naïve participants would be when
ordered to administer increasingly intense electric shocks to an
• M - 40 volunteers; volunteer sample (newspaper); at Yale University;
they met another man (actually a stooge); in a rigged draw, p always
drew teacher, stooge always drew student; shock generator from 15v
to 450v; teacher read word list and shocked student every time they
were wrong; learner response was scripted, silent at 315v; obedience
was how far up the generator the teacher went before stopping.
• R - 100% shocked to 300v; 65% shocked to 450v; in Milgram’s
survey, most said they thought that the p’s would stop at 140v.
• C - The social setting is a powerful determinant of behaviour;
participants found it hard to break away from the experiment; having
MILGRAM’S STUDY OF OBEDIENCE -
• G - The results cannot be generalised as all of the participants were
male. They were also a volunteer sample, which usually means that
they are more willing and enthusiastic than other people.
• R - Milgram followed a standardised procedure which means that the
experiment can be repeated to test for reliability
• A - The results from this study can be used to help explain why many
people are obedient, for example soldiers at Abu Ghraib and in WW2
• V - The results do not have population validity as they were all male
volunteers. Ecological validity is low as it was a lab experiment, and the
task was unnatural. Experimental validity is high as the p’s said that
they believed that they were actually administering shocks.
• E - P’s could and did withdraw from the study; they did not know the
true aim; they were continually deceived; they were put under extreme
stress; they received a thorough debrief
STUDY OF OBEDIENCE
• EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE
BASELINE STUDY, BUT WITH
FEMALES INSTEAD OF MALES
• RESULTS ARE EXACTLY THE
SAME, 100% TO 300v, 65% TO
MEEUS AND RAAIJMAKERS - DESCRIPTION
• A - To test obedience where harm would be done, but in a more up-
to-date way - ‘violence typical of our times’, which is less physical
and more psychological.
• M - Experimental method; 39 (24 exp. 15 control) naïve participants
were ordered to harass an apparent job applicant (confederate) to
make him nervous while he was sitting a test to determine whether
he would get the job; 15 harassing statements; p’s were told it was
in context of a research project; verbal prompts.
• R - In the experimental condition, where the experimenter who had
given the order sat in, 22 of the 24 participants (92%) made all 15
stressful comments. In the control condition none did.
• C - People in an everyday situation like a job interview will generally
obey orders to abuse a stranger psychologically. Rates of obedience
were higher than in the Milgram study, as might be expected as
people believed they were upsetting rather than physically hurting
MEEUS AND RAAIJMAKERS - EVALUATION
• G - The sample used was a volunteer sample which means the participants may
have been more motivated to do well/obey. However the p’s were Dutch adults, so
the results may not be able to be applied to the whole population.
• R - The controls and careful planning means the study can be replicated and tested for
reliability and therefore cause-and-effect conclusions are more easily made. The
standardised procedure makes replicating the study easier.
• A - The results can help to explain why some people are obedient.
• V - The situation was artificial and therefore lacks validity – the ‘applicant’ was in a lab
taking a test for a job which is not a natural situation. However, the task is a job
application, which is a real life task.
• E - Participants were fully debriefed and given a follow up questionnaire by mail a year
later to ensure they were okay. There were no indications that the participants had
suffered any serious negative effect from taking part in the experiment. However, many
participants were caused distress by their involvement – they made it clear that they
found the treatment of the applicants to be unfair. They were relieved when they found
out the victim was not a real applicant and they had not in reality caused someone harm.
AGENCY THEORY - DESCRIPTION
• According to Milgram moral strain is the negative feeling caused by doing something
we believe to be wrong but feel compelled to do because of the social situation.
• According to Milgram an agentic state occurs when people act as if they were simply an
agent for authority; they do what the job requires them to and what they do is not their
choice but their duty. When in an agentic state people take no responsibility for the
consequences of their actions.
• According to Milgram an autonomous state occurs when people act as if free to make
their own choices. When in an autonomous state people are said to have free will and
control their own actions. They take responsibility for what they do.
• Milgram proposed that although participants in his studies felt moral strain (a negative
feeling) they were operating in an agentic state and hence followed the instructions
given. In this state they did not feel responsible for the potential harm they were
causing - they were merely agents of the experimenter.
• Milgram believed that certain aspects of the social situation such as the perception of
real or imagined authority bring about the agentic shift from the autonomous state to
the agentic state.
• Milgram explained that the agentic state has its origins in the socialisation process,
whereby obedience becomes associated with rewards in infancy and this is further
reinforced in the school years, leading to unquestioning obedience in adulthood.
• He also explained that obedience can be seen as having survival value and that
natural selection favours those creatures who fit into the social hierarchy and this
explains why the behaviour was so prevalent in his studies.
AGENCY THEORY - EVALUATION
• S - The theory is supported by a good deal of research evidence including the findings
of Milgram’s own obedience studies. P’s in Milgram’s study were seen to be following
orders from the experimenter and had passed over responsibility for their actions.
• C - Agency theory cannot explain individual differences in obedience. There were
p’s in Milgram’s study who did disobey him, as 35% of p’s did not go up to 450v.
• O - Social Power Theory suggests that people obey because the people giving
orders have legitimate power over the obeyer, so they obey because they see
them having power over them.
• U - The theory is able to explain real life event such as Abu Ghraib and the Nazis
during WW2. The soldiers saw themselves as agents for the person giving the
orders, for example, Hitler.
• T - The idea of an identifiable agentic state has proved difficult to pin down, as
you cannot measure a feeling. It is a circular argument; saying someone is in an
agentic state because they obey and they obey because they are in an agentic
PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION
• Prejudice is an attitude (usually negative) toward the member of some group
solely on their membership in that group.
• Discrimination can be seen as the behavioural expression of prejudice. Acting
on the prejudice.
• Racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia are all forms of prejudice that
could and do lead to discrimination.
• The term prejudice means to ‘prejudge’ somebody on the basis of their
membership of a particular category or group. Prejudice can be positive or
negative, but in psychology the focus is normally on the negative aspects of
• C = COGNITIVE (beliefs, stereotypes, e.g. women can’t drive)
A = AFFECTIVE (feelings experienced in response to belief, e.g. hatred
B = BEHAVIOURAL (actions based on the feelings, e.g. shouting at women
SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY - DESCRIPTION
• Social Categorisation: We categorise objects and people in order to understand
them. We all automatically categorise ourselves and others as members of various
social groups. Groups we belong to are our in-groups, groups we don’t belong to
• Social Identification: We identify with groups that we perceive ourselves to belong
to. Our group membership is part of our social identity. As a member of a group,
we take on aspects of the group identity as our own (e.g. taking on the group’s norms
of behaviour, wearing clothes that fit the group and adopting the opinions and
attitudes of the group.)
• Social Comparison: A positive self-concept (how we view ourselves) is part of
normal psychological functioning. In order to boost our self-esteem (how good we
feel about ourselves) we are motivated to see our own group (in-group) as better
than similar (but inferior) groups (out-groups). Putting out group-down to make
ourselves feel better.
• According to Tajfel the three processes of categorisation, identification and
comparison lead to prejudice.
• Conflict is not necessary for prejudice to occur, merely being in a group and begin
SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY - EVALUATION
• S - Sherif’s Robbers Cave study provides evidence for SIT in that the
two groups showed prejudice before competition was introduced, and
showed in group favouritism.
• C - SIT underestimates the importance of individual differences, some
people make have a much greater tendency than others to favour in
group over out-group, depending on their personality.
• O - Realistic Conflict Theory states that prejudice arises due to
competition over scarce resources such as jobs, food, land or money.
This goes against SIT as conflict does not need to be present for
prejudice to arise.
• U - If we know how prejudice arises, we can tackle this by merging in
ad our groups, i.e. changing their group boundaries.
• T - It is hard to test whether someone is prejudiced or not, as is it a
SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY
HOFLING - DESCRIPTION• A - The aim was to investigate different aspects of the relationship between doctors and nurses.
• M - Boxes of pink placebo pills (which contained glucose) were placed in the medicine storage in
the wards. These boxes were labelled:- “Astroten, 5 mg. capsules, Usual dose: 5 mg, Maximum
daily dose: 10 mg”
The nurses were all alone in a locked psychiatric ward when they received the call from a
confederate acting as an on duty doctor. Following a pre-written script (and a set of responses if
the nurse asked questions) the ‘doctor’ asked the nurse to give a patient a dose of 20 mg of
These orders went against a strict hospital policy as
1)The order was given by an unfamiliar voice.
2) The drug is a drug they is not familiar with.
3) Hospital procedure states all medication must be signed by a doctor before being administered
to a patient.
The experiment ended when:-
1.The nurses complied with the ‘doctor’s’ request
2.A clear and sustained refusal to complete the request
3.Insistence to talk to a third person, or someone further up in the hospital hierarchy.
4.The participant becoming emotionally distressed
5.The inability to find the medication after 2 attempts have been made
6.The nurse extending the length of the telephone call (by any means) by more than ten minutes.
After the experiment had ended a researcher fully debriefed the nurses, this occurred within thirty
minutes of the experiment ending.
• R - 21/22 nurses went to administer the medicine. 11/22 were aware it was an overdose. 10/12
graduate nurses said they wouldn't administer the drug in the questionnaire.
• C - Nurses will knowingly break hospital rules in a situation where a doctor tells them to, even if it
HOFLING - EVALUATION• G - The p’s were the nurses on duty at the time, which means that
the results can be generalised to other nurses at the time (1960s).
However, they were all female and American.
• R - Reliability is high as it was carried out on 22 different occasions,
and a standardised procedure was used (the phone call was
• A - The results from this study can be used to help explain
relationships between nurses and doctors, and they can be used to
improve training techniques.
• V - High experimental validity as p’s were unaware they were in a
study and so their behaviour was natural. High ecological validity as
the setting was a hospital so it is a true to life setting, and this means
the results can be generalised to similar settings and situations.
• E - P’s were deceived; p’s had no right to withdraw as they did not
know they were part of a study, but could withdraw data afterwards;
ROBBER’S CAVE - DESCRIPTION
• A - To see whether it is possible to instil prejudice between two very similar
groups by putting them in competition with each other.
• M - 22, 11 year old boys took part in a summer camp; allocated to one of two
groups; unaware of each other’s existence at first; a name (rattlers/eagles)
and flag was chosen; after a week they were made aware of each other;
in/out group behaviour had started; competition was introduced; tournaments
with prizes; before the tournament began the groups were fighting; one
group burnt another’s flag; awards and prizes were stolen from each other.
1. Group Formation
2. Friction - first contact between groups, then sport like competition (tug of
3. Integration- reducing friction by using superordinate goals (car out of mud)
• R - Strong in group preferences were shown by the boys in each group; in
friction phase 93% has friends in their own group; in integration 30% had
friends between groups which shows a reduction in prejudice.
• C - Competition increased prejudice and discrimination, leading to clear
ROBBER’S CAVE - EVALUATION• G - It is hard to generalise to other situations or people as the sample was
restricted to boys with a specific background. All p’s were 11, white,
protestant, middle class boys so it is hard to generalise.
• R - Careful sampling and briefing of observers so that they followed the
same procedures means the study could be replicated to test for reliability.
Researchers still had some control over the variables, e.g. introducing
competition. It is a field experiment so is vulnerable to extraneous
• A - Can be applied to help reduce prejudice between groups in society
through the use of superordinate goals.
• V - Several data collection methods, findings agree, so validity is high;
natural environment so ecological validity is high; p’s were unaware they
were in a study so experimental validity is high; task was natural, e.g.
summer camp with common activities normally carried out at these camps;
less possibility of demand characteristics as p’s were unaware they were
• E - No informed consent, but their parents did; no right to withdraw;
KEY ISSUE - ABU GHRAIB•On the 22nd October 2004, a US soldier – Staff Sergeant Ivan ‘Chip’ Frederick, aged
38 was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to 8 counts of sexually
and physically assaulting detainees (including carrying out a mock electrocution on an
•The abuses at Abu Ghraib were exposed in April 2004 with the publication of
photographs and videos showing US soldiers abusing naked Iraqis. Frederick, a
military policeman, acknowledged his part in the abuse but also blamed his chain of
command by saying that prisoners were forced to submit to public nudity and
degrading treatment for “military intelligence purposes”.
•Emails sent by US Command in Baghdad telling him to order his interrogators to be
tough on prisoners. The email said that they “wanted the detainees to be broken”.
•Frederick said military authorities told guards how to treat detainees – that included
stripping them, depriving them of sleep and taking away their cigarettes .
Investigators wanted detainees “stressed out, wanted them to talk more” said
•In total 11 members junior ranking soldiers were convicted for abuse, compared to no
•The soldiers defended themselves by saying that they were not responsible for their
own actions as they were told to commit the atrocities.
EVIDENCE IN PRACTICE - DESCRIPTION
• A - To investigate differences in obedience to authority.
• M - Opportunity sampling; difference between males and females; 30
students; open and closed questions; pilot study; we all sat in silence
and completed our own questionnaire; I then asked someone of the
opposite sex to complete it in silence; I gave them the RTW and
received their informed consent; I thanked them for their time.
• R - Both males and females were 100% for obeying rules at school;
2/15 males said they were late to lessons at college, whereas 0/15
females were. There was little difference between males and females
in terms of obeying strangers or obeying parents. We calculated a
average score of obedience with 20 being most and 4 being least -
male’s score was 17.6, female’s score was 17.67.
• C - There is no real difference in the obedience of males and females. I
shall accept my null hypothesis and reject my alternative hypothesis.
EVIDENCE IN PRACTICE - EVALUATION
• G - P’s were same age and from same college so hard to generalise. Also,
opportunity sample was used, and sample size was small, so hard to generalise.
However both males and females were used.
• R - Standardised procedure and standardised instructions make it easy to replicate
to test for reliability. Each person was tested individually by different people in
different setting so hard to replicate. Everyone received same questionnaire.
• A - Results suggest that in the real world, males and females are socialised
similarly, and so there is no real difference between their obedience levels.
Therefore there is no need for males and females to be educated/trained ect
• V - Open-ended questions which gather qualitative data were used, which increases
validity of results, as the data was more in depth and detailed. Collecting both
quantitative and qualitative data raises the validity of the results. As the p’s were
most likely friends of the interviewer, they may not have taken the questionnaire as
seriously than if they had been asked by a stranger.
• E - Participants received the right to withdraw both themselves and their results; a
full debrief was given; informed consent was collected; there were no questions that
• A method commonly used in the Social Approach is a
• This is an umbrella term for a number of different
research designs, including questionnaires and
interviews, which are used to investigate specific
research questions by gathering self-report data.
• The core of this method is questioning.
• Before undertaking an experiment, setting up a
hypothesis is essential to clearly identify what you
want to find out.
HYPOTHESES• Hypotheses are specific testable predictions about
what you expect to find after analysing the data from
• Alternative hypothesis: A prediction used in
research that states a definite difference will be found
in the data.
• Null hypothesis: A prediction used in research that
states no effect (other than which might happen by
chance) will be found.
• You either reject or accept your hypotheses,
depending on whether your data indicates a real
TYPES OF QUESTIONS
• The key to getting useful results in a survey is asking
the right questions
• Open questions: Questions that allow the
respondent to answer in any way they choose.
• Closed questions: Questions that are limited in the
way that they can be answered (e.g. “yes/no”).
TYPES OF DATA
• Qualitative data:
Words/pictures/diagrams ect. Data that
is descriptive, in depth, detailed and
rich. It describes the participants
views. Gathered by using open
• Quantitative data: Numbers/quantities
ect. Allows comparison of results.
Gathered by using closed questions.
EVALUATION OF TYPES OF DATA
QUALITATIVE DATA QUANTITATIVE DATA
• It enables the researcher to delve into the
reasons behind their quantitative findings
• It may produce more rich, detailed types of
information with access to emotions and
feelings behind behaviour
• It tends to produce more ecologically valid
data as it is collected in more natural
circumstances/real life situations
• It is viewed as more subjective than
• Qualitative data can be converted to
• It uses controlled variables making it easier
to repeat the study and check for reliability
• It gives statistical data which can be
further tested to see how far the results are
due to chance
• It can be easily represented in charts and
graphs for easy analysis
• Easy to analyse and to draw conclusions
• It is viewed as less scientific than
• It is hard to replicate due to a lack of
control in methods, so it lacks reliability.
• It is difficult to draw comparisons between
groups, and it’s difficult to draw conclusions.
• It may produce narrow, unrealistic
information which only focuses on small
fragments of behaviour
• Quantitative data cannot be converted t
• Gives a very superficial views which may
• You could interview your participants -
involves meeting them, asking questions,
and recording their answers
• You could send them a questionnaire,
which is a written set of pre-set questions,
they then write their answers and return it
• Either method allows you to use open or
• Using closed questions during an interview can be
regarded as a wasted opportunity.
• Unstructured interview: Open questions; gathers
qualitative data; structure is flexible.
• Structured interview: Pre-set order of questions;
leaves little room for researcher to follow up on
answers of interest.
• Semi-structured interview: In the middle of structured
and unstructured; schedule of questions; researcher
has some freedom to follow up on responses
• The written format of a
standard questionnaire means
there is no flexibility about the
• There may be space for the
participant to write comments
but otherwise they have to
answer the questions set.
• The questions are most likely
to be closed and may make
use of a Likert-type scale.
• Wording is important so that the p’s know what you
mean; you can check this by using a pilot study,
testing it with a small group of people first.
• Consider the time needed to answer the survey.
• Consider the time needed to analyse the data.
• Consider your sample, in terms of it’s size and
SAMPLING METHODS• Random Sampling: Every member of the target
population has an equal chance of being chosen, e.g. by a
random number generator
• Stratified Sampling: The sample is a proportional
representation of the TP. The TP is broken down into
categories or groups based on age, gender ect.
• Opportunity Sampling: Participants are selected form
whoever is available at the time, e.g. whoever is in the
• Volunteer Sampling: Participants select themselves. E.g.
Milgram gained participants through an advertisement in a
EVALUATION OF SAMPLING METHODS
Method Strengths of Method Weaknesses of Method
It is unlikely that the sample will be
biased, as the sampler has no control
over who is in the sample. All members
of the target population have an equal
chance of being chosen.
Random sampling can take a long time,
especially if the target population is
It can be very representative of the
population if done correctly. The whole
population would be equally
It is very time consuming to do, and it
also can be very difficult.
It is convenient to do, as the sampler
selects people who are there. It is really
easy and quick. Likely to be ethical.
Opportunity sampling tends to be less
representative, because the sample was
taken from a small section of the
The participants would be very
motivated. Quite easy to do. It gives
you access to a variety of people you
normally would not have access to.
Volunteers are most likely to all be
similar, as volunteers tend to be more
willing, and more eager to please than
the wider population.