Conformity - Asch`s research

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Procedure - Asch (1951, 1955) showed participants two large white cards at a time. one card was a `standard line` and on the other card there were three `comparison lines`. one of the lines was the same length as the standard and the other two were substantially different (clearly wrong). the participant was asked to identify which line matched the standard. there were 123 American male undergraduates. each naive participant was tested individually with a group of between six and eight confederates, and the participant was always sat in seat 7 or 8. they were unaware the others in the room were confederates. on the first few trials all of the confederates gave the right answers before started making errors, they were instructed to give the same wrong answer (each person was asked to give their answer indiviually). altogether each participant took part in 18 trials and on 12 `critical trials` the confederates gave the wrong answer. 

Findings: the naive participant gave the wrong answer 36.8% of the time. overall 25% of the participants didn`t conform on any trials, which means that 75% conformed at least once. the term Asch Effect has been used to describe this result - the extent to which participants conform even when the situation is unambiguous. when participants were interviewed afterwards most said they conformed to avoid rejection (Normative Social Influence)

Asch`s Variations: Asch was further interested in the conditions that may lead to an increase or decrease in conformity. he investigated these by carrying out some variations of his original procedure - 

1. Group Size:

he found that with three confederates conformity to the wrong answer rose to 31.8%, but the addition of more confederates after this point made little different. this suggests that a small majority is not sufficient for influence to be exerted but, at the other extreme, there is no need for a majority of more than three

2. Unanimity:

Asch also wanted to know if the presence of another, non-conforming, person would affect the naive participant`s conformity. to test this, he introduced one confederate that disagreed with the others - sometimes the new confederate gave the correct answer and sometimes he gave the wrong one (each time the answer was different to other confederates). the presence of a dissenting confederate led to a reduced…


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