Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Conformity & Obedience #3

PART 3 Dispositional and Situational The 2 approaches to explaining obedience were to some extent reconciled via the work of Alan Elms (Alan Elms & Stanley Milgram, 1966). One of Milgram’s assistants, Elms tested sub-samples of the 20 most obedient and the 20 most defiant from Milgram’s first 4 experiments, using Adorno’s F-Scale questionnaire. He found that those who tested highest on the F-Scale gave more stronger shocks and held the shock buttons down longer than those who were low scorers. Participants were also asked a series of open-ended questions about their relationship with their parents and their attitudes towards the experimenter (authority figure) and the ‘learner’. Elms reported that participants high in authoritarianism were more likely to see the learner as responsible for what happened to him, rather than themselves or the experimenter who was seen as an admirable figure by many of the authoritarian participants, They also often spoke in negative terms about their fathers. Though Elms’ sample groups were small, the implication is that there is indeed a dispositional element in blind obedience – so that some will respond to a situation demanding obedience more than others. In Integrated SocioPsychology terms the vMEME most likely to obey blindly the orders of a legitimate… Read More

Social Learning Theory

Updated: 15 July 2020 Behaviourism, as a paradigm, doesn’t concern itself with mental processes. In Classical Conditioning John B Watson (1919) treated the mind as a ‘black box’ that Behaviourists did not need to bother with. In Radical Behaviourism B F Skinner (1945) acknowledged that there were ‘private internal events’ but that these were merely the conscious experience of the body functioning. However, not all Behaviourists took such a dismissive view of the concept of internal mental processes. Some did allow for some cognition to influence behaviour. Foremost among these was Edward C Tolman (1932) who proposed the concept of cognitive maps – although Tolman didn’t use the term, he is clearly conceptualising what we now call schemas.  Tolman developed this concept from work he had done (Edward C Tolman & Charles Honzik, 1930) on rats learning the layout of a maze they had to negotiate to get food. In the study 3 groups of rats had to find their way around a complex maze. At the end of the maze there was a ‘goal box’ of food. Some groups of rats got to eat the food, some did not, and for some rats the food was only available after 10 days. The… Read More

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments

Relaunched: 27 February 2018 “I observed 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 nervous collapse. He constantly pulled on his earlobe and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and muttered, ‘Oh, God, let’s stop it!’ And yet he continued to respond to every word of the experimenter and obeyed to the end.” – Stanley Milgram, 1963 Stanley Milgram’s ‘electric shock’ experiments of the 1960s and 1970s – and the many replications and variations of them throughout the Western world and way beyond – are some of the most audacious, genuinely creative and thought-provoking sociopsychological studies ever undertaken. They provide truly disturbing insights into the human readiness to obey those in authority to the point of carrying out horrific acts of violence, secure in the knowledge that the person is ‘doing the right thing’ and that no unpleasant consequences will follow from carrying out those orders. Yet the experiments are as controversial for validity of their methodologies as their results. The theory the experiments gave birth to, Agentic Shift Theory (aka Agency Theory), despite the strength… Read More

Diagnosis of Depression

Updated: 30 April 2019 In ordinary, everyday discourse, nearly any mood with some element of sadness may be called ‘depressed’. However, for depression to be termed Clinical Depression, it must reach criteria which are generally accepted by clinicians; it is more than just a temporary state of sadness. Generally, when symptoms last 2 weeks or more and are so severe that they interfere with daily living (failure to function adequately), someone can be said to be suffering from Clinical Depression. Clinical Depression affects about 16% of the population at one time or another in their lives.  According to the World Health Organisation (2018a): “Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.”The mean age of onset from a number of studies is in the late 20s. There is a gender difference in incidence as roughly twice as many women as men report or receive treatment for Clinical Depression, though the gap is shrinking and this difference disappears after menopause. Up to 25% of females will be diagnosed at some point in their life and up to 12% of men. At any one point in time it is estimated 9% of… Read More

Just how many Homosexuals are there really?

This week, in discussing Sigmund Freud’s views (1923a) on homosexuality with a class of A-Level Psychology students at Guiseley School in Leeds, the question was raised as to just how ‘normal’ gay and lesbian relationships are. When I stated that most recent surveys – ie: in the past 10 years or so – have tended to average around 2-4% of the adult population in the Western-ish world clearly identifying as gay men or lesbian – ie: verging on the statistically abnormal – I was quite taken aback by the sheer vociferousness of the class that the true number was at least 10% and, therefore, normal. 2 things struck me about this response:- How accepting the class were that homosexuality was ‘normal’ – quite a contrast with a Psychology class in Goole 3 years previous, in which the class had insisted that Evolutionary Psychology ‘proved’ that homosexuality was abnormal and a perversion Where this mythical number of 10% of the population had come from and how strongly it was entrenched amongst the Guiseley students In and amongst the praise heaped on my book, Knowing Me, Knowing You, by Integral Review in 2007, I was castigated for ignoring homosexual relationships; I had 3 chapters… Read More