Social Influence key studies


Asch - Conformity

AIM: to investigate conformity through responses of participants to group pressure in an ambiguous situation

METHOD: 123 American male students tested in groups of 6-8 confederates - 2 large cards shown - 1 single standard line & 1 with 3 comparison lines - asked to select the matching line

RESULTS: participant gave wrong answer 1/3 of times in 12 critical trials - 25% never gave a wrong answer

CONCLUSION: people are influenced by group pressure

EVALUATION: child of the times (may only reflect conformity in 1950s America - research conducted in 1980 in UK shows 1 conformant in 396 trials - Asch effect isnt consistent over time) artificial task (results dont explain more serious real life situations) cultural differences (more reflective of conformity in individualist cultures - study in collectivist culture e.g. China shows higher conformity rates - results of Asch's study cant be generalised to collectivist cultures)

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Piliavin - Prosocial Behaviour

AIM: to investigate if certain characteristics of a victim could affect whether people will help a bystander in a natural setting

METHOD: male confederate 'collapses' on NYC train - dressed as drunk or disabled (cane) - one confederate acted as 'model' if nobody helped - 2 observers record results

RESULTS: 'disabled' victim was helped in 95% of trials - 'drunk' helped in 50% - amount of people in carriage didn't affect time taken to help

CONCLUSION: characteristics of the victim affect whether they will receive help

EVALUATION: STRENGTH - high realism (didn't know behaviour was being studied = natural reaction = more valid) STRENGTH - qualitative data (observers noted remarks made byt passengers = deeper insight into why they helped/didnt help) WEAKNESS - urban sample (mostly from city = could be used to these types of emergencies = behaviour not typical of all types of people)

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