The studies carried out by Milgram, Piliavin, Haney and Gardner & Gardner, have unearthed some very important as well as surprising details about human behaviour and experience which in nearly all situation affects it. This question looks at the various forms of human behaviour, which make us what we are and also looks at ‘experience’, something we all seem to rely on heavily. Firstly, in Milgram’s study of obedience, it was found that under pressure or authority we sometimes do what we normally would not have done, therefore showing that others influence our behaviour, particularly those who we think are more superior to us.
“Carry on …… “, one of the main prods the experimenter used on the teacher to make the teacher carry on with the shock treatment. This shows that not only the presence of some authority figure, but also what they do and say can influence human behaviour. One of the reasons, which make us think that a person is superior to us, is because we think of the experience he/she has in that particular field or area. Because of this we assume that they are superior to us and that what they tell is the only option we can follow. Of course this is not always the case.
Hitler did have some men in his army who did not follow his instructions and did try and betray him, but the majority of his army did do as he commanded. The effect of an authority on human behaviour is demonstrated clearly in Milgram’s study as the ‘teachers’ ask the so called experimenters, who they think are an authority over them, whether or not they should continue giving shock treatment to the subjects and they also turn to them for support and advice during a very tough emotional and moral battle that they are fighting within themselves.
Therefore we turn to people who we think have more experience than us and our decisions are affected by what others say and do, especially those who we see as an authority above us. Similarly, in Pilavin’s study, human behaviour when helping people revolves particularly around three main factors. These are: Cost Reward Analysis, Plurastic ignorance and the emotional arousal. It was discovered in the experiment that people only went to help if the situation appealed to them and if they thought it was serious enough to help.
This resulted in the drunk getting less help than the cane victims. Also people used the cost reward analysis before helping. This in simplified terms means the advantages and disadvantages of helping and also the advantages and disadvantages of not helping. This shows another part of the human behavioural patterns. Another, which can be added to this, is that of plurastic ignorance, which means that people do not know what to do, and therefore look at others near them and assess the genuineness based on what they do.
Therefore if most people would not help, neither would that person. Also another reasons for humans not helping during certain situation is because of the Diffusion of Responsibility which means that the more people we see around us, the less we help out as we think that someone else will do so. There is also emphasis on ‘experience’ in the experiment as it can once again have effect on human behaviour.
In this particular experiment if passengers on the train had themselves been a victim (i. e. cane victim, or drunk), or even if they had helped others before, it will most probably have an effect on their behaviour. Those people, who got help from others when they themselves were victims, might help out, whereas those who got no help when in a similar situation might not help. Also if a person has helped before and had not had the best of times helping, may decide to stay away from he incident this time around. Zimbardo’s Prison Stimulation experiment was another experiment during which human behaviour and experience paid an important role.
It was thought that prison life would have an effect on the behaviour of the prisoners as well as that of the guards. It was discovered that prisoners started to behave in degrading ways because of them being trapped in a prison environment and also because they always had to follow orders from the guards and also because of the fact that they had no choice in the matter. Similarly the guards started to behave in cruel ways once they knew that they were powerful. They then started to punish guards whenever they felt like it.
Zimbardo’s experiment proves the fact that when we have power and are see as an authority figure by others, our behaviour changes drastically and we become on some occasion very unfair and cruel to those below us. Experience once again can affect behaviour. This is because those who have been in a prison before will feel that it is not that bad as they have been there before and know what to expect whereas those who haven’t been before find it as a shock. Those who have been in prison before may behave in a more civilised manner than others who haven’t.
Finally, the experiment carried out by Gardner and Gardner did not really uncover anything about human behaviour apart from the fact that language is something we are innately programmed to do. In this experiment a chimp named ‘Washoe’ was taught ASL(American Sign Language), but even after 4 years of training, only 132 signs were learnt. In comparison with that human children learn much more as they grow older, therefore showing that humans are innately programmed to do so.
It also shows that we have a much more complex form of communication which animals like chimps cannot learn. Experience is again a relative feature in this experiment. The experiment shows that with adequate experience even animals can learn features of our communication, therefore if they were to continue to be taught for many hundred of years they too may be able to communicate in the complex form that we are now able to communicate in. Therefore all these various studies show a close relationship between experience and our behaviour.