Asch- Opinions and Social Pressure

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  • Created by: Sam
  • Created on: 28-04-14 20:14

Asch-Context + Aims

Context-

  • Previous research looked into how people in groups formed their own opinions
  •  JENNESS 1932 - jelly beans in a jar Students gave individual estimates, after dicussion estimates differed to a group norm. 
  • SHERIF 1935- similar investigation, using autokinetic effect, shone a light in a dark room, it appears to move, indivuiduals gave estimate before, and after discussion,estimates went to group norm.
  • Asch thought Jenness +  Sherif's experiments were limited because it didn't measure comformity as it mesasures fromation of norms rather than if people conformed. 

Aims- 

Asch aimed to investigate the effects of group pressure on individuals in a unambigious situations. He wanted to see whether when a participant was presented with a clearly wrong answer, whether the individual would conform to the answer, or act independantyly. 

He also aimed to see whether the size of the majority was improtant in conformity. 

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Asch- Procedure

Basic Study: 

  • 123 male students from US, volunteer sample. Recruited for a vision test. 
  • Each session, 1 naive paticipant, between 6 and 8 confederates. 
  • Participants seated in room with confederates, always seated last. 
  • Participants shown 2 large cards, one with a standard line, and the other with three lines of various lengths, particiapnts were asked to choose which of the 3 lines matched the standard. 
  • One of the comparison lines was the same length, other 2 were clearly different. 
  • The confederates gave the incorrect answer on 12/18 trials with each particpant. 
  • After the trials Asch debriefed the naive participants. 

Variations: 

  • The size of the group was varied from 1-15 people.
  • Truthful partner was added/ 
  • Unaccurate partner- gave different answer to other confederates, but still wrong. 
  • Partner who changed mind- started off correct answer, then started to conform. 
  • Partner who leaves- gives correct responses for first 6 trials, then leaves. 
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Asch- Findings

  • Findings for original trial:
  • Control Trial: To confirm stimulus lines are unambigious, All confederates gave right answers.People make mistakes less than 1%.
  • Critical Trials: The naive participants gave wrong answers 36.8% of the time.
  • Individual Differences:
    • 25% of particpantsnever conformed. 75% conformed at least once. Some participants went with the majority nearly all of the time.
    • Participant behaviour tended to stay consistant over the trials.
    • The particiants that conformed more often,underestimated how many times they conformed, and gave excuses.
    • 
  • Additional procedures:
  • size- only 1 confederate had little effect,with 2 participants were wrong 13.6% of the time, and with 3 it rose to 31.8%.
  • truthful partner- reduced conformity to 25%
  • Inaccurate partner- reduced confromity to 6%.
  • Partner who changed mind- participant also didn't confrom, but then changed with partner.
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Asch- Conclusions

Sudy shows that-

  • There is a surprsingly strong tendancy to confrom to group pressure in a situtation where the answer is unambiguous.
  • Certain factors affect conformity, for example, the size of the group.
  • People do resist to conform
  • Can be appplied to real world- e.g education, it is psychologically unhealthy to be ut under group pressure.
  • Two important findings:
    • there was conformity.
    • most people can resist the pressure to conform.
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Asch- Methodology + Aleternative Evidence.

  • D-  The original study was not an experiment. Only conducted in a lab environment                        Advantages: Control over extraneous variables.                                                                     Disadvantages: Demand characteristics, lacks mundane realsim.
  • E-   Deception, psychological harm (stress+embarassment)
  • R-   Can be replicated, e.g Perrin +Spencer.
  • V-   Low ecological validity, not an important taskm naive partcipants didn't know others                 (Williams and Sogon: People conform more with people they know)
  • S-  Study used sample of male US college students. People in individualst cultures conform           less.

 Alternative Evidence:

  • Perrin +Spencer 1980: Repeated the experiment in England only one out of 396 science students comformed. People 1950's America more confromity.However youths on probation it showed higher conformity rates.  CONTRADICTS. 
  • Neto 1955: found women are more conformist, more concerned with social relationships. 
  • Niccolson et al 1985: Supports. 
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