PSYA2 - Social Studies

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Asch - compliance

Lab exp, Opp samp, Ind grps

- 123 males told they were in a study of 'visual perception'

-Had to judge which comparison line was the same as the original line

-Tested in groups of 6, rest were confeds and were told to give the same obviously wrong answer

-Gave answers in order, participant always second to last, the nuimber of confeds varied from 1-16 and the error rate was recorded

  • Conformed on average 37%
  • Only 5% everytime
  • 25% never conformed
  • Supporting confed and conformity dropped to 5%
  • As group number increased so did conformity, but only after 3+

->Mundane Realism

->Psychological Harm

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Sherif - internalisation

Lab exp, Opp samp, Ind grps

- Led into darkened room and asked to judge the distance and direction of a light (light was not moving- autokinetic effect)

- Three days later put into groups of three and asked the same question

  • Participants replaced individual answer with one closer to the groups
  • Maintained these answers over time
  • People change their attitudes and behaviours when information is scarce or in ambigious situations. This is a desire to be right and in belief that others hold the correct answer

-> Extraneious Variables

-> Internal Validity

-> Active Deception

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Factors that affect conformity


  • Varied number of confeds from 1-16
  • 1 or 2 = 3%
  • Just 3 = 33%
  • 3 plus = 37%

AMBIGUITY-Perrin and Spencer

  • Exact replication using engineering and mathematics students that are encouraged to use exact measurements
  • The task was not ambiguous to them and only one out of 396 trials did a participant conform

CULTURE-Smith and Bond

  • Compared conformity rates in different cultures
  • Collectivist cultures (needs of the group) such as Fiji shoes higher rates of 58%
  • Individualist cultures (needs of the individual) such as Belgium showed lower rates of 14%

HISTORICAL PERIOD-Perrin and Spencer

  • Original took place in 1951, in a greater time of conformity
  • Exact replication, only one conformity out of 396 trials
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Milgram - obedience

Lab exp, Vol samp, Ind grps

- 40 males recruited from local newspaper told they were taking part in memory and learning

- Greeted by experimenter dressed in white lab coat (authority figure)

- Paired with confederate and assigned 'random' roles of teacher or leaner, they were always the teacher

- Watched 'leaner' strapped to electric chair and then themselves given shock to prove it was real. If 'leaner' got a wrong answer they would be given a shock, increasing in 15V every time, they could hear but not see the leaner

- Leaner gave predetermined set of responses and went silent at 315V, experimenter gave prods such as 'the experiment requires you to continue teacher'

  • Repeatedly argued with experimenter but continued to obey
  • 100% gave 300V
  • 65% gave the lethal 450V
  • Ordinary people show strong obedience to authority even when asked to behave in an inhumane manner
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Evaluation - Milgram

-> High Experimental Realism

-> High Test Te-test Reliability

-> Population Validity

-> Mundane Realism

-> Volunteer Bias

->Active Deception

-> Psychological Harm

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Hoffling - obedience

Nat exp, Opp samp, Ind grps

- Hoffling posed as a doctor and telephoned 22 nurses giving them orders to give patients a dose of drugs double to the reccomended amount

- Drug was not real and Hoffling had permission

- Nurses are not allowed to take direct instructions over the phone and should challenge any unusual doses

  • 21 out of the 22 nurses gave the dose and obeyed the instruction
  • People show very strong obedience to authority in real like, natural conditions

-> Mundane Realism

-> Population Validity

-> Psychological Harm

-> Active Deception

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Explanations of obedience

Graduated Commitment: Milgram

  • Locked into 15V stages, only a small step beyond their previous action

Agentic State: Milgram

  • Believed they were working on experimenters behalf

Proximity of authority figure: Milgram

  • When given orders over phone, conformity dropped to only 21% giving 450V shock

Authoritarian Personality: Milgram

  • Those who gave 450V shock scored higher on Adorno's F scale

Legitimate Authority: Bickman

  • 92% of pedestrians obeyed an order when researcher dressed in uniform compared to 49% in normal clothes

Social Impact Theory: Milgram

  • Reduction of strength, immediacy and number led to drop in obedience, 46% giving 450V shock
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Explanation of Independent Behaviour

High internal locus of control: BIONDO

  • Students given task of marking work, those with high internal locus more likely to show independent behaviour and were not influenced by the group

High external locus of control: AVTGIS

  • Those with a high external locus of control were more easily persuaded and likely to conform than those with an internal locus


  • Replication of Asch, using mathematics and chemistry students, they are encouraged to use exact, precise measurements. They had their expertise and so had no need to look to other to make a correct decision

Reactance: MILGRAM

  • Those who refused to obey argued that the experiment was pointless, had no importance to them and used phrases such as 'i am free to choose, and i choose not to continue'
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