Studies in to Conformity

Studies in to people's conformity

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Asch (1951)

A: Investigate the extent to which individuals will conform to a majority who give wrong answers

P: 123 American male student volunteers. 7 participants each called out which of 3 comparison lines matched a standard line, genuine pp's always gave answers last or penultimate. Only one person was a genuine particpant, others were stooges/actors. In each study there were 18 trials, stooges gave wrong answers on 12 of the trials, 'Critical Trials'. 

F: Naive participants conformed on 32% of a 'Critical Trials'. 74% pps conformed at least once. Only 5% of conformity when they could write it down

Co: The judgements of individuals are affected by majority opinions, even when the mjority are blatantly wrong. There are individaul differences in the enxtent of conformity. Majority of pps conformed privatley, motivated by normative social influnence.

P: Study has become the established way of testing conformity levels, basic paradigm

Cr: Uneconomical and time-consuming, only one realy pp at a time. Unethical, involved deciet, pps were told they were doing a study visual perception. Situation was unrealistic, not ecologically valid. Only 32% conformed, majority of people are independent than conformist 

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Variations of Asch

When the size of the majority increases in number
F:  2 confederates: 13% of conformity, 3 confederates: rose to 32%
    Adding in extra confederates had no further effect on the conformity rates

When naive pps are exposed to a non-conforming confederate
F: One confederate who went against the others and gave correct answers - conformity rate decined to 5.5%. Similar if the rebel went against the other confederates and the real pp - 8%. 
Co: Reduction of the majoriy's consensus that is the most important factor 

When the line judgement taks was made harder
P: Made the comparison lines more similar to each other
F: Pps were increasingly likely to conform to the wrong answer
Co: Supports the role of informational social influence

When pps were allowed to write down their answers privately
F: Conformity declined to 12.5%
Co: Suggesting fear of ridicule and disproval are important factors. Supports normative social influence 

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Bond and Smith (1998)

A: Compare conformity rates of the Asch-type study across different cultures and times

P: Meta-analysis of 134 replications of Asch conformity effect, conducted within 17 different nations. Similar meta-analysis was conducted on the 97 replications conducted within the USA

F: Distinct negative correlation between time of study and level of conformity within USA studies. Independent cultures tended to show lower rates of conformity than collectivist cultures. Positive correlation was found between conformity rates and the size of the majority influence. The more difficult or ambiguous the task, higher the conformity levels. Females conformed more.

Co: Conformity rates can be predicted on the basis of the basis of the level of independence within a culture grouping. Conformity rates change over time within a culture, reflecting social change. Increased with tasks with unceratin answers, more informational social influence. Females are more interpersonally oriented than males and have greater need for social agreement.

P: Sample was similar in composition, allowing for accurate analysis - increasingly validity

Cr: Correlations don't show casuality. Culture is not necessarily uniform in its composition, can't apply to all cultures. Line judgement task used may be more meaninful in some cultures

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Perrin and Spencer (1981) / Crutchfield (1955)

Perrin and Spencer

P: Used Asch's paradigm on British Science students

F: Virtually non existency conformity level of 0.25%

Co: Could be a result of cultural changes over 30 years


P: Asch's task. In seperate booths, couldn't see each other. Lights 'showed' what the other pps had putas their answer

F: 30% conformity levels. When task was made more difficult, conformity increased

Co: Refutes Normative Social Influence, couldn't see each other, still conformed. Conformity increased when more difficult, supports Informational Social Influence.

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