Acsh conformity study

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  • Asch (1951)
    • Hypothesis
      • Will someone go along with an answer that is obviously wrong?
      • What is more important - being right or fitting in?
    • Procedure
      • Used 'confederates' (who deliberately lied) to fool naive ppts (who had no idea what was going on)
      • Asked student volunteers to take part in a visual discrimination task
      • Ppts seated around a table and looked at 3 lines of different lenghts
      • They took turns to call out which line they thought was the same length as the 'standard' line
      • The real ppt would always answer second to lasy
      • Even though the answer was fairly obvious for the majority of time, the confederates had to give the same incorrect answer
    • Findings
      • Average conformity rate of 33%
      • When all confederates gave the correct answer, ppts made almost no errors
      • When confederets gave the incorrect answer, ppts conformed 37% of the times
      • 70% conformed at least once
      • 5% conformed every time
      • 25% never conformed
      • Sheriff's conclusion - when faced with an ambiguous situation people look to others for guidance
    • Afterwards, Asch created a control condition without the distraction of other confederates and he found that ppts make mistakes 1% of the time
    • Aim
      • Investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform
    • Evaluation
      • Unethical
        • Deception + confusion
        • Psychological stress if they disagreed with the majority
        • Conflict in the study when the ppts tried to decide whether to say what they saw or to conform
      • Reliable
        • Untitled
      • Invalid
        • Lacks ecological validity
        • Biased sample - so lacks population validity
          • All ppts were male + similar ages
          • Results cannot be generalised  to females + older people
        • Used an artificial task to measure conformity - results cannot be used to generalise to real life situations


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