1. Asch(1955) An experiment into conformity

2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life event

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  • Created on: 29-03-10 12:11

1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure


Asch wanted to find out what would happen when the participant was with a majority of other people (confederates) who were obviously wrong in their judgement. Therefore, if the participant would conform with the obviously incorrect confederates.


Asch's experiment was done in a laboratory (controlled conditions) and using repeated measures design.

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure


123 male college students participated, all of them on a volunteering basis and all of them from 4 American universities

participants were paid to participate in a study which they were told involved a visual judgement task


groups of 7-9 participants were tested at a time, only one out of those were true 'naive' participants, the others were confederates.

Each group were shown 2 pieces of card, one had a 'standard' line on it, the other had 3 line on it with varying lengths, only one matched the 'standard' line.

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure

procedure continued

Each group member had to state aloud, in the order in which they sat, which line they thought was the same length as the standard line.

For the first few sets of cards, all participants gave the correct answers, then the confederates began to unanimously give the incorrect answers

there were 18 sets in total, 12 of which were critical, where the confederates gave the wrong answer.

several conditions were tested in this experiment

there was a condition in which the confederates always gave the correct answer, this was to ensure that any mistake given by the 'naive' participant was due to conformity effects and not task difficulty

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure


where the confederates gave the correct answers all the way through, the 'naive' participants answered correctly 98% of the time.

in the experimental condition, where the confederates gave the incorrect answers, the 'naive' participants were only correct in 63.2% of the time.

participants conformed to the incorrect answers on 36.8% of the critical trials.

24% never conformed and gave their own answers

5% of participants conformed on all trials, all of the time

75% of the participants conformed at least once on the critical trials

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure

findings continued

participants were debriefed afterwards and asked why they conformed the following reasons were given:

- distorted perception (believed the confederates were right)

- not wanting to 'spoil' the results and displease the researcher

- thought they had a deficiency in themselves (e.g. poor eyesight) which they hid to avoid embarresment

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure


some people will conform to group norms even when the answer is clearly incorrect, this shows that conformity is a powerful influence in our behaviour

Asch "the tendancy to conform in out society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning youn people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern"

however, it is important to note that in 2/3 of trails the participant remained independent

participants who did not conform held onto their own beliefs

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure


:) as it was a laboratory experiment, it had controlled conditions, so it allowed Asch to measure conformity, there were no extraneous variables.

:( as it was a lab experiment, it lacked ecological validity (not true to life)

:) the experiment was conducted on a large scale 123 participants, and they had similar demographic details (age, sex, etc.) means that they were with their peers and were more likely to conform with in real life

:( as all the participants were all male Americans of a similar age, the results cannt be generalised to other groups (females, ages etc.) or other cultures

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1. Asch (1955) - opinions and social pressure

evaluation continued

:( ethical issues!

participants were not able to give their full informed consent as they were not fully informed as it would be impossible to carry out this study if the 'naive' participants knew the true nature of the experiment

also the participants were subject to a stressfull situation (psychological harm) and experianced temporary discomfort (short term harm)

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2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life eve


Rahe et al wanted to find out if changes in life could be related to stress, and if the stress of these life events could be correlated with illness


a questionnaire was used to find out if there was a correlation between the participant's stressful life events and their illnesses.

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2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life eve


2664 Navy personnel on board 3 US Navy cruisers (90-97% of each ship's crew took part)

mean age of participants was 22.3 years.

participants were from a range of backgrounds with around two thirds being high school graduates

they ranged in Naval experience from high ranking officers with 30 years experimence to apprentice seamen

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2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life eve


The navy ships were chosen because all crew members were subject to the same stresses, environmental conditions and infections.

Participants were asked to fill in a Military version of a Schedule of Recent Experiences (SRE) which is a self-report questionnaire

The questionnaire was used to check the stressful life events that each of the participants had experienced relating to their personal, family, community, social, religious, economic, occupational, residential and health situations.

the questionnaire was filled in every six months before a six to eight month deployment

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2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life eve

Procedures continued

Each life change on the SRE was given a Life Change Unit (LCU) which was a score given to indicate the severity of a particular source of stress.

The LCUs were devised with a sample of American citizens and have been found to be reliable.

as each ship returned from their overseas deployment, research physicians went aboard to review all health records. neither the participants nor the medical staff on board the ships knew of the true aims of the study, therefore this made it a double blind study.

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Results were co-ordinated and a positive correlation was found between the total number of LCUs or the intensity of life changes over a two uear period and the likelyhood of developing illnesses.

The six months immediately before departure were found to be most significant, particularly in cruisers 1 and 3, and with the married men compared to the younger single sailors

Sailors that had a low Total LCU score were found to be less affected by illness, and those who had a high TLCU score were found more likely to become ill

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2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life eve


The findings show that there is a relationship between stressful life events and illness.

however, it is important to note that the illnesses experienced were minor and the life changes the participants reported were not major.


:) the findings of this study support the findings from otehr studies into life changes and ill health.

:) the double blind nature of this study meant that the results were not affected by demand charecteristics.

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2. Rahe et al (1970) Levels of stress and life eve

evaluation continued

:) The measures used were consistent and reliable and recording of ill health was standardised.

:) the study had ecological vaildity as it was carried out in teh participants own environment, under realistic conditions

:( the study used only male, American participants, so it cannot therefore be generalised to other groups, cultures or genders.

:( the SRE does not take individual differences into account (people may react differenty ot the same stressor or event)

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i found this really useful , thanks XD


ah no worries, i was going to put all 10 up but i lost my notes :( x

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