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The Methods Behind the Madness

Introduction to Social Psychology methods

Dr. H. C. Sinclair

on 14 January 2019

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Transcript of The Methods Behind the Madness

Methods or Madness? Shocking the World
Elements of the Study
Cover Story
First order deception
“I watched a mature and initially poised
businessman enter the laboratory smiling
and confident. Within 20 minutes, he was
reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck,
who was rapidly approaching the point
of nervous collapse.”

Stanley Milgram (1963, p. 376)
"I was just following orders...."
Participants vs. "Affiliates"
Participant Instructions
Dependent Variable
Post-experimental debriefing or inflicting information?
Independent Variables: Proximity of Victim
Original layout
Victim in same room
Have to hold victim's hand on shock plate
Never sees victim
Independent Variables: Proximity of Experimenter
Next door
Never met
Independent Variable:
Location (Institutional Authority)
One of the “teachers” (who had gone all the way to 450 volts) was invited into a social psychology class to speak about his experience in the study. The students (who had already learned about the study) were nearly silent and stared at him with accusing and disbelieving eyes. He reminded the class that you never know what you might have done in that situation.
“Beyond the Shock Machine” - Gina Perry
What do the "teachers" (or participant) learn about themselves?
Independent Variables:
Availability of Allies
Alone vs. 2 Defiant Allies
Point of no return
79% of the teachers who went past 150 volts continued all the way to 450 volts
“…the 150-volt switch is something of a point of no return.”

(Burger, 2009)
Since this is so, then why not have a shock machine with switches that go all the way to 450 volts, but stop the study if and when a “teacher” presses the 150 volts switch?
Real Life Replications
Experimenter Script
Please continue.
The experiment requires that you continue.
It is absolutely essential that you continue.
You have no other choice, you must go on.
Confederate Script
Heart condition
Shouts in pain
Refuses to continue
Refuses to answer & demands freedom
No harm done?
Follow-up survey (92% response rate)
84% of former participants surveyed later said they were "glad" or "very glad" to have participated
15% chose neutral responses
6% chose negative responses
Similar findings in 2010 by Dambrun & Vatine 2 months post-study (participants averaged a 6 on a 7-point scale of positivity).
No evidence that deception experiments are more harmful than non-deception (Baumrind, 1985; Kelman, 1968)
In fact, in follow-ups to deception studies participants rarely admit feeling harmed (Christensen, 1988), and are more likely, post-study, to report feeling happier, more benefited and interested (Smith & Richardson, 1983).
In studies of complete information studies, they have found that subjects are more suspicious & hostile (Resnick & Schwartz, 1973)

Is it deception or topic that matters?
To Deceive or Not To Deceive...
"It is imperative that you continue..."
Did participants have the freedom to withdraw?
Did the benefits of the research outweigh the cost?
What is the value of the research?
Were the findings
& useful?
Can you have (mis)informed consent?
But if you are studying obedience and defiance...
Variations Results
Blass' (1999) meta-analysis of the Milgram experiments and subsequent replications revealed a consistent rate of 61-66% total obedience across time and place.
73% obeyed
with visual
91% when avatar only text
Burger's (2009) Replication
Base condition:
70% had to be stopped after administering the 150 volts
Modeled Refusal Condition:
63% had to be stopped after administering the 150 volts
NOT a significant difference between conditions
No significant difference from Milgram's original study
Active Deception
Slater et al., 2006
In sum, there were many lessons learned (even though there were no actual teachers and learners) from the Milgram study.
We will return to many of the lessons over the course of the semester. So keep them in mind.
One oft-repeated: Remember, you often cannot be sure what you would do in a certain situation
What is an independent variable (IV) vs. a dependent variable (DV)? (vs. a predictor variable - PV)
How do you determine how many levels an IV has?
What is operationalization?
What is a confederate?
What is a cover story?
What are the different types of deception? (First order, second order, active, etc.)
What are different types of correlational/non-experimental research?
What are bi-directional and illusory relationships? (Why are they a threat to the usefulness of correlational research?)
How does non-experimental/correlational, experimental, and quasi-experimental research differ?
What were the results of the Milgram study? What were factors that led to an increase vs. a decrease in obedience? How did having an ally (or two) help or hurt? Keep the 2009 & 2010 replications in mind also.
What is the difference between obedience, compliance, and conformity?
What is a meta-analysis?
What is a replication? (And different types of replication.)

If we get to the controversy..
What is internal vs. external validity?
What is mundane vs. experimental realism?
What were some of the ethical controversies from the Milgram studies?
What does the evidence say about the use of deception in research studies? Is it harmful?
Questions you should now be able to answer based on today's material:
Dambrun & Vatine (2010) Replication & Extension
53% obeyed when the victim was heard but not seen. (Only 13% when visible.)
Overall: rates of obedience higher when victim was North African instead of French, regardless of visibility.
Those higher in Authoritarianism delivered higher intensity shocks (& felt less responsible for it)
Not MY fault
I want to examine the effects of rejection on aggressive behavior, so I randomly assign participants to condition where everyone chooses them for a partner for a virtual game of dodgeball or no one does. Once the game begins, the participant can determine how hard they want to throw the virtual ball (even though it then has a higher chance of missing, but harder hits deduct more points from the opposition) with a dial on the game controller. The higher they crank it up, the harder the hit. In this study, aggressive behavior is my only:

A. predictor variable
B. independent variable
C. dependent variable
D. operationalized variable

As many researchers do not disclose the hypotheses and variables in their study to participants during the consent process, this particular type of deception in research seems more common than others:
A. deception by omission
B. deception by commission
C. first-order deception
D. second-order deception

"Few psychological studies, if any, can claim a legacy as imposing as the obedience studies of Stanley Milgram. Their impact was of notable consequence in the separate spheres of research ethics, research design, and theory in psychology, and they changed the ways that psychologists conceptualize and conduct their research." - Benjamin & Simpson, 2009
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