Conformity

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  • Conformity
    • Conformity - a change in a person's behaviour or opinion as the result of group pressure
    • why do we conform?
      • Normative social influence - we want to be like by other people and feel accepted by them
      • informational social influence - we use the behaviour of people around us  for information when we are in ambiguous situations
    • Social Roles - the part people play as members of a social group. in each social role you adapt + your behaviour changes to fit expectations of that role
    • Sherif 1935
      • asked participants to estimate how far a spot of light moved in a dark room
      • the light didn't move - it was an optical illusion
      • he found that a participant on their own gave a variety of estimates
      • when put into groups of 3 estimates became very similar
      • concluded - people's opinions help us form judgements in ambiguous situations
      • Evaluation
        • Asch 1951
          • argued - Sherif's study the situation was ambiguous - light moved wasnt known so doesn't show social conformity
          • 50 students participated in a 'vision' test
          • paced a new student with others. others knew responses but the new student did not
          • 3 lines - asked which was longest/shortest, answer was always obvious
          • carried out 18 trials - on 12 trials the wrong answer was given
        • both experiments were conducted in laboratories - not a natural situation therefore the results could be invalid
        • use of confederates could suggest ethical issues
        • lots of control so you can target specific factors e.g. group size
    • Asch 1951
      • argued - Sherif's study the situation was ambiguous - light moved wasnt known so doesn't show social conformity
      • 50 students participated in a 'vision' test
      • paced a new student with others. others knew responses but the new student did not
      • 3 lines - asked which was longest/shortest, answer was always obvious
      • carried out 18 trials - on 12 trials the wrong answer was given
    • Zimbardo 1973
      • aim - to investigate how far people would go to conform to roles of guard/prison in a simulated prison life exercise
      • interested in whether bad treatment was due to personalities or the prison environment
      • 24 male volunteers were paid $15 per day
      • randomly assigned to prisoner or guard
      • prisoners were treated like criminals - stripped, shaved hair, prison clothes, referred to by number
      • guards dressed in identical khaki uniform, wore special sunglasses - reflective/blacked out
      • instructed to do whatever they thought necessary to maintain law + order
      • Results
        • within a very short time they adapted to their new   roles
        • guards began to harass prisoners
        • prisoners told tales on each other
        • one prisoner was released after 36 hours - in the early stages of a deep depession
        • terminated on 6th day - ethical issues
      • Conclusion
        • people will readily conform to social roles especially if strongly stereotyped
        • de-individuation may explain behaviour
      • Evaluation
        • cannot be generalized to real life/females/countries
        • evidence shows participants reacted to situation being real
        • ethical issues - lacked fully informed consent/unprotected from psychological harm
        • went through debriefing sessions - no lasting effects
        • benefits gained about our understanding of human behaviour + how we can improve society
    • De-individuation - the state of losing our sense of individuality and becoming less aware of our own responsibility for our actions
    • Milgram 1963
      • obedience - following an order, instruction or command which is given by a figure of authority
      • wanted to see how far people would obey unreasonable offers
      • 40 male volunteers - believed experiment was on learning
      • believed they were giving an electric shock when learner got an answer wrong
      • went from 15 to 450V
      • told to keep going when they heard learner was in pain
      • all delivered 300V, 65% administered 450V

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