Evaluation for Variables Affecting Conformity (A03)

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  • Evaluation for Variables Affecting Conformity (A03)
    • Is the Asch study a 'child of it's time'?
      • Joseph McCathy
        • Who is he and what did he do?
          • Republican US senator from Wisconsin
          • Led the anti-communist crusade known as the second red scare
          • During a speech, he produced a piece of paper of "known communists" working for the government
            • Communist - Someone who wants equality
          • People were scared to go against the majority so more people were more likely to conform
        • Many would agree as cultural changes have taken place since Joseph McCarthy
      • Perrin and Spencer
        • Carried out an exact replication of the original Asch experiment
          • They found no evidence of conformity
          • Results: conformity on 1/396 trials
          • High ethnocentricity (conducted on British people rather than other ethnicities)
    • Cultural differences in conformity
      • Different results dependent on the culture the study takes place in
      • Smith et al
        • Analysed the results of Asch style experiments in a number of different cultures
          • Average conformity rate across the different cultures was 31.2%
          • Conformity for Individualist  (Europe and US) cultures was 25%
          • Conformity for Collectivist (Africa, Asia and South America) cultures was 37%
      • Markus Kitayama
        • Argue that there would be higher conformity in Collective cultures as they have a better connected community
    • Unconvincing Confederates
      • A problem for confederates in Asch's experiment was that they would've found it difficult to act convincingly when giving the wrong answer
      • Mori and Arai
        • Overcame confederate problem by making participants wear special polarising filtered glasses
          • 3 participants in each group wore identical glasses and a 4th wore the special glasses
          • Each participant viewed the same stimuli but only one saw them differently
          • Female participants showed similar results to the original experiment whereas men didn't. This suggests that the confederates in the original study had acted convincingly
    • Problems with determining the effect of group size
      • Bond
        • A limitation of research in conformity is that studies only have a limited range of resuklts
        • Bond points out that no studies other than Asch have used the majority size greater than 9
          • We know little on the effect of larger majority sizes on conformity levels
      • Investigators were quick to accept Asch's finding of 3 being the magic number for numbers of conformity to the majority
    • Independent behaviour rather than conformity
      • Only about one-third of trials where the majority unanimously (in agreement) gave the wrong answer in Asch's experiment
      • Two-thirds of the trials in Asch's experiment stuck to their instincts
      • Asch's experiment showed that people's independent behaviour


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