Planning an Argument

Sample Audience Analysis: Example Two

Assignment Two: Psychology 100

(Your paper should be about 6 pages.)

The 1969 My Lai massacre in Vietnam was a particularly egregious case of over-obedience to military authority in wartime. Show the connection between this event and Milgram's experiments. [Milgram used his authority as a researcher to convince subjects to administer what they thought were painful, even life-threatening, shocks to uncooperative people.] Note that Milgram himself treated the My Lai massacre in the epilogue to his Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (1974). (Behrens and Rosen, 384-5).

Look at the Assignment

Notice that you are being asked to show the connection between one person's research work and an historical event. Why: to determine if you have an intellectual understanding of the "over-obedience to authority" issue.

To show the connection you will need the following:

  1. A definition of egregious over-obedience to authority
  2. A description and some background information on Milgram's work
  3. A description and some background information on the My Lai massacre

Notice also that you have only 6 pages with which to work. In order to provide background and describe both Milgram's work and the My Lai massacre, and show the connection between the two, you will need to be succinct and clear.

Look at Samples & Models

The assignment doesn't specify format, use of outside sources, or levels of formality and so you might want to ask about those points or look closely at samples to gather more information. Nor does it ask you to include personal experiences or contribute personal analysis, but as you draw the connection you will undoubtedly rely on your understanding of the event and your interpretation of sources.

Consider Your Academic Discipline

Ask yourself what you know about your professor's approach to the discipline. Do you already have enough information about Milgram and My Lai? If not, you'll definitely need to do some library work. Notice that the assignment sheet suggests looking at Milgram's 1974 publication, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.

Throughout the semester, what other works has your professor mentioned? Has he or she shown a preference for particular kinds of evidence gathering and argument styles? Think carefully about your professor's prior assignments and use your observations to help shape your writing.

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