Psychology PSYA2 - social Influence

Conformity to Majority

Asch (1956) - Asked 123 male American Undergraduates to state which of the 3 lines matched the standard line. Critical trial; confederates gave the wrong answers, conformity was 36.8%. Control trial; confederates gave the right answers, conformity was 75%. P's conformed due to distortion of action, perception and judgement.

Variations include:

  • Difficulty of task. Levels of conformity increased as making the difference in line lengths smaller, the task became harder.
  • Size of majority. If theres a majority of 1 or 2, conformity is low. Majority of 3 result in 30% conformity but further increase makes no difference.
  • Unanimity of majority. Confederates giving the right answer ment p's felt supported so conformity dropped from 32% to 5.5%.

A weakness of Asch's study is that is lacks validity. The task its self was insignificant and answering aloud ment ps were vulnerable to social pressure therefore, they conformed as to not feel uncomfortable.

A strength is that there are real world applications. Tanford and Penrod found that pressure to conform to the majority is high in juries as in over 95% of cases, the first vote determines the outcome. This suggests that conformity pressure is high in jurie decission making.

A weakness of Asc's study is that it was affected by McCarthism. The study was conducted during a time of strong anticommunist feeling in America. Individuals were scared to be different which resulted in more conformity.

Conformity to minority

Moscovici (1969) who's aim was to see if consitency helps minority influence. 32 groups of 6 women (4 of which are ps) had to estimate the colour of 36 slides of blue in different shades. Condition A: confederates consistently called green so conformity was 8.4%. Condition B: confederates were inconsistent so conformity was 1.2%.

The conversion theory is where an individual is exposed to an argument contradictor to current attitude, this causes conflict. Individuals are then motivated to reduce the conflict, and therefore, examine the argument. As a result, attention is on the message rather than the relationship between them and the majority. This increases the chance of internalisation

A strenght of Moscovici's study is that it involves the conversion theory. The conversion theory creates conflict and a desire to reduce it, resulting in greater message proccessing. Therefore, individuals are more likly to internalise information.

Results from research into minority influence will have relevance beyond experimental situations however, real worl research suggests that minority influence is rare and therefore, lacks validity.

Nemeth suggests that minority influence research has provided important insight. If minorites are consistent then their viewpoint will prevail, otherwise the influence will decrease.

Why people conform

Informational Social Influence is the result of wanting to be right. We believe others to be right, so we change our views and behaviour, this is an example of internalisation. This is likely to occur when the situation is ambiguous, a crisis or we believe that they're experts.

Normative social influence is the need to be liked. We have a fundamental need for social…


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