I am writing in response to your letter of complaint about my obedience experiment. I feel that I have done nothing wrong I would like to convince you that I have in no way ashamed the BPS.
Firstly, my work was of practical value as it showed that individuals have a tendency towards destructive obedience. I believe that by showing the results of this experiment, it would have wider benefits to society as it could avoid such incidents in the future, as the one which triggered my investigations – the Holocaust. I feel that my study helps us to understand how historical events such as this could happen, where people obeyed orders against the moral code they normally lived by.
Moreover, I used a standardised procedure for each participant – for example, the same script was used by the learner and experimenter; the same rooms were used during the experiment; and identical equipment was used each time. This ensured that all the participants had a similar experience, so there was no bias in the experiment. The strong controls meant that the studies could be repeated, to test whether the findings were reliable – and the experiment was, indeed, repeated by other psychologists, afterwards.
In addition, I did try to ensure the participants thought the situation was real, for example, by giving them a 45 volt shock at the start. The obvious stress experienced by participants implies that most did believe that what was happening was real, so this would suggest that in fact there was some experimental validity.
In the study, the participants were not given the full details on the true nature of the experiment, but you have to consider that had the participants been aware that the electric shcoks were not real, the results gathered would not have been a clear indication of their obedience and behaviour because they would have known that the consequences of their actions were not real. I therefore could not ask for informed consent but I did try to be ethical so asked participants if they would like to take part in such a study and they did. There was some amount of deception in my experiment, but, as I have just mentioned, this was all necessary for the results of the