Asch 1951, Zimbardo 1973

What is conformity?
A form of major influence where the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of people in a particular group are adopted in response to real or imagined group pressure
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What was the aim of Aschs' experiment?
To investigate the degree to which individuals would conform to a majority who gave obviously wrong answers
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How many people took part? Who were they?
123 Male US Undergraduates
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What type of experiment was it?
Laboratory Experiment
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What were the participants told?
That they were taking part in a study on visual perception
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How many people were in the room?
One genuine/ naive person, 6 confederates and Asch
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Where was the genuine participant sat?
Second to last
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How many trials were there?
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How many critical trials were there?
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What is a critical trial?
The trial where the confederates all gave the wrong answer
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How do we know that the answer were obvious?
Control group (individuals tested individually), 3 mistakes out of 720 were made
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Give four statistics on the findings
Naive conformed 37% on the 12 critical trials, 75% conformed to at least one wrong answer, 25% never gave a wrong answer and 5t% conformed to all 12.
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Briefly outline the procedure
7 people looking at a display, had to say out loud whether line 1, 2 or 3 matched the stimulus line.
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Briefly outline the conclusion of Aschs study
Judgements of individuals are affected by majority opinions (even when majority are obviously wrong), strong tendancy to conform to group pressures.
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What did the particpants say when interviewed after?
They conformed publically to avoid rejection and dissaproval, but privately continued to trust their own judgements
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What is the explanation behind the conformity in Aschs' Study?
Normative Social Influence
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Give a counter argument to the conclusion (+stat)
In roughly 63%, participants stuck to their original judgements (despite overwhelming majority expressing a different view). Tendancy to show independant behaviour and stick to original view.
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What were the three variables affecting conformity?
Group size, unanimity and task difficulty
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What was the aim of the 'group size' variable?
To see whether the size of the group would influence conformity of the participant
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What number did Asch go up to when investigating group size?
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Three stats when investigating the group size?
1+1 + 3%, 1+2 = 13%, 1+3= 32%
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What happened after three confederates were added? What does this indicate?
No further affect - group size is important up to a certain size
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What does unanimity mean?
To what degree the group members are in agreement with eachother.
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What was the procedure when Asch investigated unanimity?
Introduced a confederate who disagreed with the others (sometimes gave wrong answer, sometimes correct)
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Give two stats on the unanimity variable
When lone dissenter gave wrong answer, conformity dropped to 9%. When he gave correct, conformity dropped to 5.5%
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What were the conclusionsof the unanimity variable?
Breaking the groups unanimity was the major factor in conformity reduction. The presense of a dissenter enables to participant to behave independently.
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What happened as the task difficulty increased? and why?
Conformity increased because the answer was less obvious so confidence in our own judgement would drop
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What was the procedure when making the task more difficult?
Making the stimulus line and comparison lines closer to eachother in length
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What were the findings of the task difficulty variation?
Participants were a lot more likely to conform when the task was more difficult
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What explains conformity with a difficult task? Why?
ISI - situation is more ambiguous so we are more likely to look for others for guidance and assume they are correct
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Name four limitations of Aschs' Study
Artificial situation and task, 'a child of its time', cultural bias and ethical issues
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Why is the artificial task and situation a limitation?
Lab experiment (does not tell us about real life), demand characteristics, trivial task, no consequences of conformity, not normally how we interact with groups + lacks ecological value
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Why is cultural bias a limitation?
US is individualistic culture - conformity would drop if it was collectivist e.g. China. Cannot be generalised outside of the US
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Why is ethical issues a limitation?
No fully informed consent, misled about experiment (e.g. thought other participants were real).
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Why would some people argue that deception is necessery?
To avoid demand characteristics - ethical costs should be weighted against benefits to society
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What was the main benefit of Aschs' study?
Highlighting people's susceptibility to group conformity
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What was the aim of the SPE? (conform detail)
Investigate the extent to which people would conform to the social roles of guard and prisoner in a role playing simulation of prison life
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What was the second aim of the SPE (dispositional detail)
Investigate whether conforming behaviour was due to dispositional factors or situational factors
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What does dispositional mean?
Nature of the person
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What does situational mean?
Due to situation - in real life, they would not conform to the roles
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What type of experiment was the STE?
Labatory Experiment
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Describe the setting + where of the STE
Mock prison in the basement of psychology department at Stanford Uni USA
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How many people took part in the experiment?
24, white, male volunteers
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Why is having volunteers a problem?
Doesn't represent society - only people interested in subject + have a lot of time + confident
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How did Zimbardo recruit people?
Volunteer sample - put an ad in the paper
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What happened before the experiment started?
Volunteers were psychologically and physically screened to select most stable with no violent/anti social tendanices
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Why did the volunteers have to be screened?
May end up seriously hurting people, suffering psychological damage or people would assume the results are down to their behaviour
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How were the roles allocated?
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What did most participants want to be?
Prisoner (less work + wont get judged as being a mean guard)
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What did Zimbardo have done first to increase realism?
Had prisoners unexpectedly arrested at home and taken to the prison in police cars
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What happened as soon as the prisoners got to the prison?
Dehumanised + Deindividuated
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Give examples of how the prisoners were dehumanised
Blindfolded, deloused, stocking caps (bald head)
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How were the prisoners de-individuated?
Smock dresses + prison ID number that they were referred to
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Why were bald caps dehumanising?
Took away basic human right, embarassing etc
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What were the guards given?
Handcuffs + Clubs
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How were the guards de-individuated?
Reflective mirror sunglasses + Khaki uniforms
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What did the reflective sunglasses do?
Cannot make eye contact - make prisoners feel less worthy, made guards feel anonymous
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What roles did Zimbardo play?
Prison super-intendant + Psychologist
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How long was the study planned to last for?
14 days
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What was the first thing that happened at the STE?
Prisoners rebelled + ripped off their numbers. Guards locked them in cells + confiscated blankets. Prisoners become rapidly depressed
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What happened after 36 hours?
1 prisoner showed symptoms of psychological disturbances and got released
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What happened after the first prisoner was released?
3 more prisoners developed similar symptoms and were released on conescutive days
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Aside from the psychological disturbances, what did another prisoner do?
Hunger strike - guards attempted to force feed him and put him in 'The Hole'(a tiny closet)
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Why was the study stopped early? + how early?
After 6 days because guards behaviour became a threat to prisoners' psychological and physical health
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How did the guards behaviour change as the study went on?
Dehumanisation of the prisoners became increasingly apparent. Guards become sadistic.
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How did the prisoners behaviour change as the study went on?
Became submissive and unquestioning of the guards behaviour
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Give examples of what the guards forced the prisoners to do over the study
Humiliated, deprived of sleep, clean out toilets with bare hands in the middle of the night etc
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How did de-individuation become increasingly apparent?
Prisoners referred to eachother by their numbers rather than names
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What is dehumanisation?
Degrading people by diminishing their human qualities and their best qualitieis
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What year was the STE in?
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What is de individuation?
A state in which individuals have lower self-awareness and a weaker sense of personal responsibilities for their actions.
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What may de-individuation be caused by?
Feeling anonymous and being part of a crowd
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What were the main evaluations of Zimbardos study?
Real life application, Ethical Issues, Demand characteristics, Situational factors exagerrated
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What factors did Zimbardo believe led to the guards being so aggressive?
Lack of training, boredom and no accountability to higher authority
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What does Zimbardo liken his experiment to?
Abu Grhaib
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Briefly describe Abu Ghraib
A military prison in Iraq notorious for the tortue and abuse of Iraq prisoners by US soldiers in 2003/2004
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What did Zimbardo believe the guards were victims of?
Situational factors that made abuse of prisoners more likely
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Why is real life application a strength?
Z+ hoped it would lead to benefical reforms in prisons and the way prisons were treated - highlighting the STEs real life application
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What caused a lot of problems in the prison?
Zimbardos dual role
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Give an example of why Zimbardos dual role was an issue
A student wanted to leave + spoke to Z+ (supervisor), and the conversation was treated as a guard and prisoner rather than as a researcher that has to look after a student
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How did Zimbardo respond when a student wanted to leave?
Worried about the running of his prison rather than a researcher with ethical responsibilities towards his students
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Why were the ethical issues a limitation?
Z+ failed to protect his participants from psychological harm - breached ethical guidelines by making the right to withdraw difficult, even when the students were obviously distressed
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What caused Zimbardo to realise he had to stop the experiment early?
His future wife spotted the abuse and made Zimbardo realise what he was doing
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How was Zimbardo sure there were no lasting psychological harm?
Carried out debriefing sessions for several years afterwards and concluded there were no lasting negative effects
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Why is demand characteristics a limitation?
Guessed what experimentors wanted to behave like and changed their behaviour - acting based on stereotypes rather than genuinly conforming. Lowers internal validity of study.
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Who proved demand characteristics were an issue in the STE?
Banuazizi and Movahedi (1975), explained STE to a large sample of students who had never heard of the STE guessed the purpose was to show conformity into social roles
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What is Zimbardos argument towards the demand characteristics?
90% of prisoners convos were about prison life - prisoner 416 expressed the view that the prison was real and run by government instead of psychologists
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What are the three limitations of the experiment?
Demand characteristics, situational factors exaggerated, ethical issues
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Why was the situational factors being exaggerated a problem?
Minimsed the role of dispositional factors - both should be considered in order to draw accurate conclusions on conformity
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Who accused Z+ of exaggerating situational factors?
Fromm (1973)
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Stats on exaggerating situational factors?
Only 1/3 guards behaved in brutal way, 1/3 were keen on applying rules fairly + rest actively tried to help prisoners
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How did some of the guards try help prisoners?
Offering cigarettes and reinstating priviliges
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What does the difference in the guards behaviour show?
They could exercise right and wrong choices despite situational pressures to conform
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What does validity mean?
The extent to which a study measures what it claims to measure
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What does external validity mean?
The extent to which the findings of a study can be generalised beyond the study
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Other cards in this set

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To investigate the degree to which individuals would conform to a majority who gave obviously wrong answers


What was the aim of Aschs' experiment?

Card 3


123 Male US Undergraduates


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Card 4


Laboratory Experiment


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Card 5


That they were taking part in a study on visual perception


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