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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

ethical issues’

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments #2

PART 2 The ‘Obedience’ movie In 1965 Milgram boosted his burgeoning notoriety with the release of ‘Obedience’, a movie documentary of a repeat of the classic study. Below is an edited compilation of clips from the movie – copyright © 1991 Alexandra Milgram.   According to such commentators as Hugh Coolican (1996), most people who see the movie are convinced that the behaviour of the participants in ‘Obedience’ is authentic and that the stress caused by their moral strain is real. However, ‘Obedience’ may not be quite what it appears to be, according to Kathryn Millard (2011). In fact, the raw footage for ‘Obedience’ was shot over a weekend in May 1962, using what Milgram called ‘Condition 25’, a slight variation on the classic study. He used the same actors to play ‘Mr Wallace’ and ‘Jack Williams’ as always and the participants were genuinely naive. The camera filmed through the same 2-way mirror Milgram used to observe proceedings. However, it was 1965 before the completed film was made publicly available. Why did it take Milgram so long to make the movie available? Millard (p660) comments on the finished product: “‘Obedience’ is as much art as science, as much drama as experiment. It… Read More

Online Censorship: where do we draw the Line?

by Carla White  I am delighted to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Carla White. Carla is an experienced writer and blogger who describes herself as “passionate about looking deeper into the world around us”. She writes ‘alternative’ news posts for numerous websites and also has experience running and maintaining websites. She says: “You can always find me at my laptop, with a cup of coffee!” You can email Carla to find out more about her work. Social conditioning has a considerable effect on crime. It was Émile Durkheim who first noted the existence of a values consensus when, in 1893, he wrote about a collective consciousness that defines societal norms and makes certain acts unthinkable to conforming citizens. This idea is one regularly used by governments as justification for censorship. By reiterating the taboo nature of certain topics, they hope to reduce mass indulgence in these things. Admittedly, this tactic has seen success. Child pornography, bestiality and cold-blooded murder are just some examples of topics that incite shock and terror in the hearts of most. However, whenever information is restricted on a national scale, an ethical question is raised. At what point does information control become an active manipulation of the collective conscience? A brief… Read More

Strange Situation

Updated: 19 December 2016 Over 60 years after its prototype was first deployed and in spite of a welter of criticisms – especially from cross-cultural research – the Strange Situation remains the most popular and most used measure of children’s attachment. Just exactly what the procedure measures and how successful it actually is have been contested by several prominent researchers and theoreticians and a number of limitations have been acknowledged over the years. Ironically, considering the issues raised by some cross-cultural research, the idea for the procedure came from work in Uganda  by Mary Ainsworth. She had worked for a period with John Bowlby in the UK and been much influenced by Bowlby researcher John Robertson’s meticulous attention to detail in recording naturalistic observations, particularly to do with separation. In 1954 Ainsworth went to Uganda, as a result of her husband getting a research position there. She studied mother-child relationships in 6 villages of the Ganda people in Kampala, visiting 26 mothers and their infants, every 2 weeks for 2 hours per visit over a period of up to 9 months. Visits (with an interpreter) took place in the family living room, where Ganda women generally entertain in the afternoon. She was particularly interested in determining the… Read More

On Being Sane in Insane Places

Updated: 19 January 2018 David Rosenhan’s classic 1973 study remains one of the most important in the field of mental health. For all its faults – and there are a number of serious ones – it almost encapsulates the difficulties in trying to determine if someone is mentally ill. The last half of the 20th Century and the first decades of the 21st have witnessed virtual ‘epidemics’ of ‘mental illness’ inflicting themselves upon the Western world. These ‘epidemics’ have, in turn, spawned huge industries in mental health care and pharmacology – and there is increasing concern about the role of the pharmaceutical industry in influencing what is classified as mental illness and how such illnesses are treated. Lisa Cosgrove &  Sheldon Krimsky’s 2012 expose is just one of many focusing on just how many of the authors of the Diagnostical & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – latest version DSM-5 (2015) – more and more have financial interests in the pharmaceutical industry. Thus, to some, it looks like the ORANGE vMEME’s desire for profit is driving changes in DSM – the medicalisation of mental illness that can be cured, or at least managed, by chemotherapy. Opponents to this direction tend to favour GREEN’s motif… Read More

Robber’s Cave

Relaunched: 4 March 2018 The Robber’s Cave study is on a par with Stanley Milgrim’s ‘Obedience Experiments’ and Philip Zimbardo’s infamous prison study at Stanford University (Craig Haney, Curtis Bank & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), both for its sheer audaciousness and what it tells us about situational pressures to produce normative influence. Muzafer Sherif had been a growing force in the development of Social Psychology ever since his ‘autokinetic effect’ experiments in 1935 had developed the concept of conformity that would come to be known as informational influence. In fact, Sherif could be considered one of the founders of Social Psychology. His work was also highly thought of by interactionist sociologists, becoming the first psychologist to receive the Cooley-Mead Award for contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association. By the end of the 1940s his interest in understanding social processes, particularly social norms and social conflict had led him to conceive of developing a field experiment in which pubescent boys would be nurtured into forming 2 distinctive teams with strong group identities to see how conflict between the 2 groups could be exacerbated and then reduced. This would be the basis of the famous and challenging Robber’s Cave study of 1954 (Muzafer Sherif et al, 1961).… Read More