Asch's Research into Conformity (Line Study)

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  • Asch's Line Research (1951/5)
    • Procedure - pts had to say which line of 3 was closest to the standard line, each naive pts was tested in groups of 6-8 confederates. Confederates gave correct answers in the first few trials and then began making mistakes until they were told to all give the wrong answer.
    • Findings - Naive pts gave the wrong answer 36.8% of the time, Overall 25% pts did not conform at all, 75% conformed at least once. when pts were interviewed they said they feared rejection (NSI)
    • Asch's Variations
      • Group Size - found that with 3 confederates, conformity to the wrong answer rose to 31.8% but the addition of further confederates made little difference.
      • Unanimity - the presence of a dissenting confederate (sometimes gave the wrong answer, sometimes the right answer, but different to the majority) reduced conformity by 25%. this enabled the naive pts to behave independently
      • Task Difficulty - when Asch made the comparison lines more similar in length, conformity increased, this suggests that ISI is significant when the task is more difficult
    • A Child of its time
      • Perrin & Spencer (1980) repeated the study in the UK with engineering students, only 1 pts conformed in 396 trials. it may be that engineering students were confident in their own measuring lines. OR Asch's research was conducted in 1950's America, a very conformist time. as time has changed, society has become less conformist. not connsistent
    • Artificial situation & task
      • Pts knew they were in a study and may have reacted to demand characteristics. although they were in a group, Fiske (2014) says "Asch's groups were not very groupy". not generalisable
    • Limited application findings
      • Gender bias, only men were tested, women may be more conformist as they care more about social relationships (Neto - 1995) Culture bias, only tested Americans, an individualist culture. Conformity studies in collectivist cultures (China) have found higher rates of conformity.


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