Conformity Studies

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Sherif (1935)

Aim: To discover the effect on judgement of listening to other people.

Method: He asked participants to estimate how far a spot of light moved when they were sitting in an otherwise completely dark room. In fact the light didn't move at all, but owing to an optical illusion called the auto-kinetic effect it did appear to.

Results: Individually the participants gave a variety of estimates, which differed quite widely from each other's. However, after being allowed to undertake the same task in groups of three, their estimates became more similar until finally they were very close.

Conclusion: The participants used other people's opinions to help them form a judgement in an ambiguous situation.

Evaluation: Asch (1951) in particular didn't agree with this study. He pointed out that the situation was ambiguous and the distance the light had moved was not known by the participants. Therefore, this did not demonstrate conformity.

Asch (1951)

Aim: Asch wanted to know whether people could be influenced by other people's opinions to give an answer they knew to be wrong. In this way it would be possible to…


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