Conformity Studies

Studies from the Social Psychology section on Conformity.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Rajvir
  • Created on: 15-05-14 17:22

Asch (1951) - Compliance

Procedure

- 123 male students in groups of 7-9 in a lab experiment of 'visual perception'
- Experimenter showed 2 cards (one with standard line, one with comparison lines)
- In turn, participants called out the matching line which was obvious
-
18 trials per group, 12/18 were critical trials
- Naive/real participant was seated second to last so were exposed to everyones wrong answers before giving own

Findings

- Overall conformity levels - 37%
- 5% conformed on every critical trial
- 70% conformed in at least 1 critical trial
- When asked why they conformed, participants said they doubted their eyes, had inaccurate perceptions, didn't want to stand out, felt anxious/stressed

Conclusion

- Under pressure people conform even when they know their wrong just to fit in
- Under pressure some people don't conform and show independence

1 of 16

Asch (1951) - Compliance

Strengths

- High controlled procedure - all participants experienced same thing - infer cause and effect - scientific evidence - allows generalisations to be made

Weaknesses

- Lacks ecological validity - strangers in groups - unnatural - artificial setting - cannot be valid - lab experiment - not true to real life situations
- Gender bias - all male sample - unrepresentative -difficult to generalise to women who may be more or less conformist - reduces reliablity and validity - less scientific
- Deceived to nature of task - fully informed consent was not given - this was done as it was hard to study conformity if participants knew the nature of the experiment - some participants felt stressed - participants were debriefed and given the right to withdraw

2 of 16

Zimbardo (1971) - Identification

Procedure

- 24 male students - take part in lab experiment after being checked for psychological stability
- Randomly allocated to role of guard or prisoner
- Prisoners were arrested, searched and given a number identity
- Guards were given uniforms, authoritative equipment and dark glasses
- All put into prison environment and the guards were told to keep the prisoners under control without using physical violence
- Experiment called off after 6 days instead of 2 weeks

Findings

- Prisoners rebelled due to dehumanisation immediately and therefore the punishments by guards escalated
- Punishments included deprivation of sleep, humiliation and being locked in a cupboard
- Prisoners became quickly depressed and passive showing serious signs of stress

Conclusion

- Ordinary, stable individuals can abuse power and behave violently if placed in certain situations

3 of 16

Zimbardo (1971) - Identification

Weaknesses

- High ethical issues - participants couldn't give fully informed consent as experiment was unpredictable and uncontrolled - deceived - not given right to withdraw - psychological harm and distress

4 of 16

Clark (1998/99) - Internalisation 1

Procedure

- 220 psychology students given a summary of the plot for 12 angry men
- Asked to play the role of the jurors in a simulation of a realistic situation
- Some booklets gave evidence FOR the defendant's guilt only, other contained counter-arguments

Findings

- Minority juror only led people to change their mind when they could provide counter-evidence  to the charge. If they did not provide evidence, people did not move from majority position

Conclusion

- The information given by minority is important

5 of 16

Clark (1998/99) - Internalisation 2

Procedure

- Student participants given a summary of the jury's discussion in the film
- Contained counter arguments presented by the minority juror
- Clark then presented different scenarios to the participants showing varying number of defectors (people changing opinion to majority position)
- Participants used a 9 point scale to judge whether he was guilty or not

Findings

- Participants were influenced by the number of defectors that moved to the not guilty position
- When 4 or 7 jurors had defected position to the minority, participants were more likely to do so
- 7 had no more influence than 4, so 4 defectors is the ceiling of influence

Conclusion

- Minorities help change minds of others

6 of 16

Clark (1998/99) - Internalisation 2

Strengths

- Highly controlled - same procedures - IV easily manipulated - easy to establish cause and effect - clear scientific evidence - easy to make generalisations from this

Weaknesses

- Lacks ecological validity - only jury simulated and no one was going to prison after decision - less empathy and pressure - results may not be completely valid

7 of 16

Asch - Size of Majority affecting Conformity

Procedure

- Did his study with different number of confederates

Findings

- 1 confederate, 1 real ppt = 3% conform
- 3 confederate, 1 real ppt = 33% conform
- 15 confederate, 1 real ppt = low due to ppt suspicion

Conclusion

- Conformity at a maximum with 3-5 confederates

8 of 16

Smith and Bond - Culture affecting Conformity

Findings

- Individualistic cultures value autonomy. Independence and individuality - less likely to conform

- Collectivist cultures value community - interdepence - more likely to conform

- Average conformity rate in individualistic culture is 23.5%

- Average conformity rate in collectivist culture is 37.1%

9 of 16

Crutchfield, Cinirella and Green - Proximity

Procedure

 - Investigated cross cultural differences in conformity comparing face to face and computer mediated communication

Findings

- In face to face communication - conformity was higher in collectivist than individualistic
- In computer mediated communication - no cultural differences

Conclusion

- People who are unable to see eachother are less likely to conform to invisible majority

10 of 16

Perrin and Spencer - Time affecting Conformity

Procedure

- Replicated Asch's 1950 study in 1981 with different males

Findings

- Conformity in 1981 is lower than 1950s America
- Conformity still takes place when people are amongst those with power
- High conformity when young West Indians were placed in groups with the majority of white confederates due to a time of racial inequality

Conclusion

- Conformity is much lower in the Western world today than middle of last century

11 of 16

Tajfel and Turner - Social Identity

Procedure

- Teenage boys (14/15) from Bristol
- Placed randomly into 2 groups - played a game where you can allocate points, trade for cash

Findings

- The boys chose to allocate more points to their own group even when they could gain more rewards by allocating equal points

Conclusion

- We favour our own group and discriminate against other groups

12 of 16

Hogg and Turner - Social Identity

Procedure

- Asked ppts for private response to conformity task similar to Asch
- Private response remove the need of conformity for normative reasons

Findings

- People only conform when the majority consisted of members of their own group rather than an out group

Conclusion

- We conform with members of our own group

13 of 16

Hart - Social Impact Theory

Procedure

- Placed ppts in groups of 3 amongst a confederate who argued for minority position
- Task to rate 40 Uni applicants
- Immediacy manipulated by having confederate 4 feet away (high immediacy) or 10 feet away (low immediacy)
- Strength manipulated by confederate acting as a student (low strength) or as an expert (high strength

Findings

- Expert had more impact than student but only in low immediacy
- No difference in importance of strength in high immediacy

Conclusion

- Immediacy is most important factor in minority influence

14 of 16

Moscovici - Minority Influence

Procedure

- Lab experiment - independent groups design - ppts experienced one of 3 conditions: inconsistent, consistent and contol
- In consistent and inconsistent - 4 real ppts, 2 confederates => everyone real in control
- Shown 36 blue slides and asked to name colour
- Consistent - confeds said green every time => inconsistent - 24 green, 14 blue

Findings

- Consistent condition - 8.24% real ppts said green everytime: 32% said green at least once
- Inconsistent condition - 1.25% real ppts said green everytime
- Control - 0.25% said different colour

Conclusion

- More consistent the majority - more influence group has
- Minority influence not as powerful as majority due to high frequency of independent behaviour

15 of 16

Atgis - Resisting Conformity

Procedure

- Meta analysis of studies which considered locus of control and conformity

Findings

- External locus of control = more likely to conform than internal

Conclusion

- Higher rate of conformity for externals than internals

16 of 16

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Conformity resources »