Social Influence - 2. Conformity: Asch's Research

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  • Conformity: Asch's Research
    • Procedure:
      • Standard line vs 3 comparison lines (2 substantially different, one the same)
      • 123 male American undergraduates
      • naïve pp in group of between 6-8 confederates (deception)
      • 18 trials - 12 critical (confederates gave wrong answer)
    • Findings:
      • pp gave wrong answer 36.8% of the time
      • 75% conformed at least once
      • Asch effect
        • extent to which pp's conform even when situation is unambiguous
      • when interviewed after, they said they conformed to avoid rejection
    • Asch's Variations
      • Group Size
        • with three confederates conformity rose to 31.8%
        • further confederates made little difference
      • Unanimity
        • introduced a dissenter
        • enabled pp to behave more independently
      • Task Difficulty
        • made stimulus line and comparison lines more similair
        • conformity increased
    • Evaluation
      • Child of it's time
        • Perrin & Spencer (1980)
          • repeated study with engineering students
          • only one conformed in 396 rials
          • students more confident?
        • 1950 was conformist time
        • Asch effect not consistent across situations/time
      • Artificial situation and task
        • pp's knew they were in study - demand characteristics
        • groups didn't resemble everyday groups
          • Fiske (2014)
            • "Asch's groups were not very groupy"
        • findings don't generalise to everyday situations
      • Limited application
        • only men tested - unrepresentative sample
        • Neto (1995)
          • women may be more conformist - more concerned about social relationships
        • US is individualist culture - may not apply to collectivist cultures e.g. China
        • conformity may have been higher than usual - pp's answered out loud, in front of strangers
          • Williams & Sogon (1984)
            • conformity higher when majority are friends
      • Ethical issues
        • pp's deceived

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