Asch (1955) Opinions & Social Pressure - Aims & Context

Aims and context of Asch's study of opinions and social pressure (1955).

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  • Created by: kaysha
  • Created on: 07-04-13 18:49


Conformity is choosing a course of action that is favoured by the majority of other group members, or is considered socially acceptable.

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Jenness (1932)

Jenness asked students to guess how many jellybeans were in a jar. He asked for individual answers, then gave the students the opportunity to discuss their estimates. He then asked the students again to give individual answers. He found that individual answers tended to converge towards a group norm.

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Sherif (1935)

Sherif coonducted an experiment similar to Jenness' but used the autokinetic effect. A stationary spot of light was projected onto a screen and appeared to move around. He asked the participants how far the spot of light had moved. At first he asked them individually, then allowed them to work with three other participants. After they had discussed it, he asked again for individual answers and found that they had become quite similar to the groups.

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Asch's Criticism of Jenness and Sherif

Asch criticised Jenness and Sherif's work, as it measured the formation of group norms in an ambiguous situation, rather than whether people conformed to the opinion and behaviour of others. As there is no clear answer, it is natural fpr people faced with an ambiguous situation to consider the opinions of others.

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Asch's Aims

Asch aimed to investigate the effects of group pressure on individuals in an unambiguous situation. He wanted to find out f, when confronted with an obviously incorrect answer, individuals would give an answer that perpetuated the error (conform) or would give an independent response.

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