Aim: to investigate how people behave in an unambiguous situation.
Jenness asked students to guess number of beans in a jar. Unambiguous but still found people changed answers to the group norm.
Sherif used the autokinetic effect. Asked how far it moved. They gave different answers when asked in groups which were more similar to others'.
Asch said that the answers in these studies were ambiguous so they were not valid (did not measure conformity).
The Cold War was also present so America was wary of those who didn't conform as they may be spies.
123 American male students paid a $3 dollar incentive-'naïve pt'
Brought into a room with 6-8 confederates and sat at the end of a table to hear the others' answers. Then they were given the line match task which was unambiguous (unlike Sherif's and Jenness'.
18 trials total- 12 critical trials (confederates wrong answer and measures conformity) 6 control (to check pt's ability). Control (where confederates gave the correct answer) also established trust.
-varied group size
-dissenter: accurate (same answer but against the majority), innacurate (against the group and the pt)
-99% of pt's got the correct answer in control trials; majority gave right answer with no pressure to conform
-36.8% baseline comformity rate in critical trials (conformed in more than a third of critical trials
-25% of pt's always gave the right answer so 75% of pt's conformed at least once.
GROUP SIZE STUDY:
-very little conformity when just pt and confederate in critical trials
-when there were two confederates, pt conformed on 13.6% of critical trials
-three confederates meant that pt's conformed on 31.8% of critical trials
*no difference with any more confederates
Dissenter- inaccurate; conformity to 10%
accurate; conformity to 10%
Concluded that we conform to group pressure even when there is an unambiguous answer
However, some did resist conformity which shows we can avoid confirming if we see it as right to
Evaluation of the Methodology
R(m)- Strength; lab expts mean we can control variables so increased reliability.
Weakness; lack of ecological validity because it is not and everyday situation
E- Strength; gave consent although it wasn't informed. Less chance of demand characteristics
Weakness; ^ no INFORMED consent
R- Strength; standardised so easily repeatable
V- Strength; Control so answers were due to conformity not ambiguity
S- Strength; Volunteer so they are motivated
Weakness; bias because similar participants
Jenness- Supports because they found similar results
However, Asch's study is at an advantage because he distinguished between ambiguity and confusion.
Sherif- Supports because if similar results. As with Jenness, Asch's is at an advantage due to validity.
Perrin and Spencer- Repeat of Asch but in 1980s England. This refutes because only 1 pt confirmed in 396 trials. However, all of these students were engineering so are used to thinking independently. Also, there was no 'cold war' so there was less need to conform so this suggests Asch's study was not valid