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Experimental Psychology Experiments

Cheerful Charlie

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http://upalumni.org/medschool/appendices/appendix-39f.html

"A cute, fluffy puppy..."

I cringed to hear that there was a paper entitled "Obedience to Authority with an Authentic Victim." What if the victim was actually given graded shocks? As described in their protocol, two researchers took, "A cute, fluffy puppy...."

Same as Milgram, but with a puppy and with real shocks. College students, 13 men and 13 women, were told to give the puppy 30 shocks. The shocks caused the puppy to run, howl, and yelp. The final level, researchers report, resulted in, "continuous barking and howling."

The conclusion? "Females were not expected to be more willing than males to shock a cute puppy." But they were; all 13 women went all the way, delivering 30 shocks each.[453]

[453] Sheridan, CL and RG King. "Obedience to Authority with an Authentic Victim." Proceedings of the 80th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (1972):165-166.

And more. Cringe worthy stuff here to be aware of. Any debate on objective or absolute morality needs to understand we seem to be hardwired for moral failure in many ways. And then there is cognitive science and more sources of intellectual failure.
 

Juma

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http://upalumni.org/medschool/appendices/appendix-39f.html

"A cute, fluffy puppy..."

I cringed to hear that there was a paper entitled "Obedience to Authority with an Authentic Victim." What if the victim was actually given graded shocks? As described in their protocol, two researchers took, "A cute, fluffy puppy...."

Same as Milgram, but with a puppy and with real shocks. College students, 13 men and 13 women, were told to give the puppy 30 shocks. The shocks caused the puppy to run, howl, and yelp. The final level, researchers report, resulted in, "continuous barking and howling."

The conclusion? "Females were not expected to be more willing than males to shock a cute puppy." But they were; all 13 women went all the way, delivering 30 shocks each.[453]

[453] Sheridan, CL and RG King. "Obedience to Authority with an Authentic Victim." Proceedings of the 80th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (1972):165-166.

And more. Cringe worthy stuff here to be aware of. Any debate on objective or absolute morality needs to understand we seem to be hardwired for moral failure in many ways. And then there is cognitive science and more sources of intellectual failure.

But, but, but... They acually used a real suffering puppy?then they just showed how cruelvthey where themselves...
 

Cheerful Charlie

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These examples merely scratch the surface of the evidence for apparently moral
behaviour in animals. Much of it has been around for a long time but it has
languished unrecognised. As long ago as 1959, the experimental psychologist
Russell Church, now professor at Brown University, Rhode Island, demonstrated
that rats wouldn’t push a lever that delivered food if doing so caused other
rats to receive an electric shock. Likewise, in 1964, Stanley Wechkin and
colleagues at the Northwestern University in Chicago demonstrated that hungry
rhesus monkeys refused to pull a chain that delivered them food if doing so gave
a painful shock to another monkey. One monkey persisted in this refusal for 12
days.

Note though that Milgram experiments demonstrate many people will torture their fellow humans. Or cute fluffy puppies.

Are rats and monkeys more moral than humans? And rats and monkeys have no religion either. On the other hand, we have the phenomenon of chicken killing dogs.
 

doubtingt

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The results are certainly not surprising in terms of shocking an "authentic victim". If you've seen the footage of the original and follow-up studies with fake human victims, you know that virtually all of the obedient participants fully believed that the shocks were real and believed the loud screams of agony and cries of "Please stop!! I have a heart condition!" coming from the other room. If people are willing to do something that they believe is causing intense pain and may potentially kill an innocent old man, of course they are going to be willing to do it to a dog. The fact that the shocks on the dog were real is psychologically irrelevant. Reality has no direct impact on human action. Its impact is all through perception, interpretation, and belief. Only if the real shocks were believed to be more real (they weren't) would you expect it to matter.

One lesson this study illustrates is that most critiques of psychology experiments being invalidly "artificial" or "non-authentic" are bogus excuses to dismiss valid data that contradicts what the criticizer prefers to believe about humans. As imperfect and "artificial" as many psych experiments are they still give us evidence about human cognition and behavior that is far more reliable, valid, and applicable than any other source of information. Some experiments and studies are flawed and/or their data is misinterpreted, but criticism about the study being "artificial" or not identical to the real world are more often than not, overblown or invalid.
 

Nexus

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If people are willing to do something that they believe is causing intense pain and may potentially kill an innocent old man, of course they are going to be willing to do it to a dog.
I would have guessed people were less likely to harm a dog.
 

another1

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I saw an old film of Jewish people butting each other in the head with a rifle for pieces of food. Some were crying and some behaved like robots. Maybe about 20 in all. Probably thousands that I hadn't had the opportunity to see. I really couldn't tell if some of them were men or women. Not one of the 20 I saw checked to see if the gun was accidentally left loaded. You'd think that would be the first idea. Opt out and shoot yourself, or the person you're butting at. Maybe even the guy with the horribly frightening voice or the guys with helmets on. Nope, they wanted the food. Golly jeez these things people get up to. Rats and apes apparently starve to spare another rat or ape pain, but they can't process psychological torture over time as humans experience time, so I couldn't compare for my own curiosity. Rats, apes and humans will pull the crack smoke lever until they die. They do have that in common I've seen. Ever see something you wish you hadn't seen, but watch similar things over and over in the name of curiosity? I'm not fond of dogs, and electric collars already exist. I think millions of dogs will need to be killed to determine if women are mean. Actually I know they are mean, but to definitively know, you know? Nice link thank you.
 
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BH

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Seeing these studies makes me think of a conversation I heard a bunch of Christians talking to each other about concerning their supposed "End of Time". They were all talking about how if they were living when the AntiChrist came would they have the gumption to be martyred instead of obeying him. Most of them said they would. I laughed to myself and said to myself "I know about half of you personally and know you won't have the guts to lose your piddly jobs rather than do something your piddly employer told you to do that was morally iffy. I know exactly what you'd do if the actual big bad Antichrist with really nasty punishments for refusal to heed him told you to do something". LOL.

I think a lot of these studies show the problems our society has stucturally. It's a top down hierarchical structure where everyone is supposed to know his or her place. Anyone refusing to fill their "proper" place or role potentially riskes the structure unable to work. So, there is a huge amount of social and authority pressure to do what you are told and do not question, or at least question to the point you refuse to do as told. Authority 'Knows best" or why else are they in authority or so the justification goes? But---- Everyone knows authority uses people, can be selfish, hurts people for its own selfish ends and not supposedly for the good of the group as claimed to justify hurting others, yet everyone is so scared to boot authority out of its place because no one would know how do to anything.
 

BH

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I've always wondered about something. It is always argued that skilled people have to have greater material rewards to get them to do whatever skill they have so the machine can run efficiently and smoothly.

In third world countries or perhaps even old Soviet bloc countries I wonder if the governments there ever said "We don't have a lot of money to pay you with, or won't for ideological reasons, but if you do not do your skills with vigor and efficiency we sure will see to it something nasty happens to your wife and kids. And then the government really does it to make some examples. I've read the Soviets would take kids away from parents if they did not use their training and skills that were in demand in an way the government deemed efficient and productive.

I wonder what those skilled people do. I'd bet most of them worked overtime and did whatever they were told. Disclaimer: I am certainly not advocating something like this, but I am interested only in the psychological and sociological aspect of the question.
 

dx713

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These examples merely scratch the surface of the evidence for apparently moral
behaviour in animals. Much of it has been around for a long time but it has
languished unrecognised. As long ago as 1959, the experimental psychologist
Russell Church, now professor at Brown University, Rhode Island, demonstrated
that rats wouldn’t push a lever that delivered food if doing so caused other
rats to receive an electric shock. Likewise, in 1964, Stanley Wechkin and
colleagues at the Northwestern University in Chicago demonstrated that hungry
rhesus monkeys refused to pull a chain that delivered them food if doing so gave
a painful shock to another monkey. One monkey persisted in this refusal for 12
days.

Note though that Milgram experiments demonstrate many people will torture their fellow humans. Or cute fluffy puppies.

Are rats and monkeys more moral than humans? And rats and monkeys have no religion either. On the other hand, we have the phenomenon of chicken killing dogs.
I see it as diffusion of responsibility problem, more than a morality problem.
In your example, the monkey would feel directly responsible for the harm to the other monkey. He's the one to decide he's hungry enough to need to pull the chain.
In the experiment, people feel absolved of responsibility for the pain they inflict by the fact that someone else decided it was necessary to inflict that pain. (and yes, it's scary to think a lot of our education is actually geared toward reinforcing that kind of obedience)

As for the dogs, I'd guess they don't fit in this debate, because I don't think a dog can feel empathy for a chicken, maybe unless it's been raised with chickens.
 
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