Majority Influence 

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  • Ash (1956)
    • The Study : 123 male American undergraduate students were shown a series of lines when seated in small groups. Each group was made up with  a majority of confederates all giving an incorrect answer. There was  12 critical trials.
      • Findings: 36.8% of responses made by true participants were incorrect i.e. conformed.  1/4 of participants never conformed.
    • Reasons Behind conformity
      • Distortion of Perception - a small number came to see the lines the same way as the majority
      • Distortion of Judgement - they felt doubt about the accuracy of their judgement and therefore  yielded to the majority view
      • Distortion of Action - the majority of participants  who conformed continued to privately to trust their own judgement  but changed their public behaviour, giving inncorrect answers  to avoid disapproval
    • Variations of Asch study
      • Difficulty of Task: Asch changed the design of the task to make it more difficult (shortened the length difference between lines)
      • The Size of the Majority : Asch found that there was a pivotal number for a majority - 3. Any less and the  participant was hesitant and conformity rates were low   and any higher didn't seem to affect the conformity rates any further
      • Unanimity of Majority: When another dissenter (whether another participant or confederate) conformity rates dropped dramatically to just 5.5%
    • Ethical Issues
      • Deception ;  participants lead to believe partaking in a sight  test. Also lead to believe everyone in the room was a true participant when most were confederates
      • Informed Consent: Or the lack of. As participants didn't know of true aims they couldn't give informed consent
    • Validity
      • Ecological Validity:  the task is a  insignificant one. It has not ramifications or consequences from not conforming
      • Population Validity : In his original study  Asch just tested male Americans. This does not provide a balanced portrayal of wider society
      • Historical Validity : Asch's study  was many a time called a 'child of its time' .  The study was conducted during the McCarthyism period of 1950 when people we really affraid to to be different


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