Research into conformity (A03)- Sheriff and Asch

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  • A01 Research into conformity
    • Temporal Validity
      • The studies fdo not reflect conformity behaviour in modern day society. 'Child of it's time'. Findings of Asch study are a reflection of social aspects, known as 'McCarthyism' America.
        • Citizens were naturally more conformist
          • Perrin and Spencer replicated this study 30 years later using 6 confeds and 1 naive. Out of 396 trials there was only one occasion where a participant did not conform
            • However, this study consisted of science, maths and engineering students who were experts possibly with more confidence than the average person and with higher intellectual capacity.
        • Cannot be generalised findings of minority influence of conformity to modern day society, as it is likely conformity has reduced
    • Ethical Issues
      • Such research does not adhere to guidelines such as: Informed consent-they were not told it was an experiment on conformity
        • Asch did not protect participants from harm as they may have felt embarrassed during the experiment
          • Asch deceived participants as he said it was a line judgement task, not conformity experiment
            • Thus, the rights of the participants may not have been protected. This damages the reputation of Psychology and a 'Cost-Benefit' analysis shoudl have been considered
    • Ecological validity and Mundane Realism
      • The tasks involved artificial situations in a lab environment. Judgements were made regarding: Asch study- line judgement Sherif study- Light from a projector
        • Such tasks would not be undertaken in everyday life with strangers and alaso had no real consequences of not conforming. Therefore, increasing the probability of demand characteristics.
          • Thus, findings cannot be generalised about minority influence from conformity research in other settings as they do not reflect real life situations of conformity
    • Methodological strengths
      • Both studies involved the use of standardised procedures- where all participants had the same experience- for example, Asch's study the line match tasks remained the same, there were six confederates and they sat in the same seats
        • Thus, increasing the scientific credibility explaining majority influence


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