Social Influence 1 (Conformity (Asch: (1951)
Carried out several studies…
Social Influence 1
- Carried out several studies using 50 male college students. Each was seated around a table as one of 7 young men. However, 6 of these 7 were confederates.
- Each group was shown a pair of cards, one with a target line on and the other wth 3 other lines of different lengths. The ppts had to match one of the three lines to the target line based on length. The answer was always obvious.
- However, all of the confederates were told before to give the same wrong answer. There was 18 trials, on 6 of these confederates gave the right answer, but on the other 12 they gave the wrong answer.
Asch found that:
- The average level of conformity was 32%.
- No ppts conformed on every trial
- 74% of ppts conformed at least once
- Some ppts said they conformed as they assumed their perception was wrong
- Most ppts said they conformed as they didn't want to be the minority
- Some said they didn't think their answer was incorrect or had been influenced by majority influence
- Research lacks mundane realism and therefore lacks ecological validity
- Ppts are all male - Gender bias - lacks external validity as cannot generalise to wider population
- Ppts are all college students - same age - again lacks external validity as cannot generalise to wider population
Types of Conformity:
- Compliance: Where an individual publicly changes their opinion but does not do it privately accept the groups behaviour and attitudes
- Identification: Where an individual publicly and privately changes their beliefs, but when they leave the group they do not maintain the beliefs
- Internalisation: Where an individual changes their beliefs publicly and privately because they truly believe they are right, and a presence of a group influence is not needed for the beliefs to be maintained.
Asch carried out many different variations of his original study to investigate the effects of different variables on rates of conformity.
- Group Size: conformity INCREASES as the size of the majority INCREASES
- Unanimity: conformity rates DECLINE when majority s not unanimous
- Task Difficulty: Conformity rates INCREASE as task difficulty INCREASES
Explanations of Conformity:
- Normative Social Influence: Humans have a desire to be liked and accepted, so we conform to majority behaviour in order to be accepted by others. This usually leads to compliance or identification, as their is no need for private conformity.
- Informational Social Influence: Humans have a desire to be right, so when unsure in a situation we look to others for guidance on how to behave. This is known as Social Comparison, where we assume others have more knowledge on the situation than us. This usually leads to internalisation as our private beliefs change as we assume the beliefs are correct.
Zimbardo and Conformity
Social Roles: The parts individuals play as a members of a social group, which meet the expectations of that situation
Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment:
- A prison was recreated in the basement at Stanford University. The ppts were 21 male, student volunteers. They were randomly assigned to either guard or prisoner, while Zimbardo played the prison superintendent.
- The prisoners were 'arrested' without warning, then stripped, deloused and given smocks. The guards were given mirrored sunglasses and uniforms to give a lack of identity, while the prisoners were only referred to by a number.
Zimbardo Found That:
- The guards behaviour conformed to social roles as they showed abusive behaviour towards the prisoners, felt they had authority over them and dehumanised them.
- The prisoners conformed to social roles as they did whatever they were told, were submissive and didn't support each other as didn't want to get in trouble.
- Conformity to social roles is not automatic, it was a response to the ppts embracing their roles.
- Demand characteristics - ppts knew the situation was an experiment
- Ethical issues - ppt harm, slight deception
- Lack of mundane realism & ecological validity
- Demand Characteristics - the ppts were playing up to the social roles rather than conforming (they knew what they were doing)
Milgram and Obedience
Milgram's Obediance to Authority Figures Experiment:
- Milgram used 40 US male ppts aged 20-50, telling them that they were taking part in a memory experiment.
- Ppts were introduced to 'Mr Wallace', who they thought was another ppt but was actually a confederate.
- By fixing a 'random' procedure the ppt was always chosen to be the teacher, and Mr Wallace, the learner.
- The ppt then believed that Mr Wallace was strapped to a chair behind a screen and connected to an electric shock system.
- The ppt then tested him on his memory of word pairs, while the researcher stood behind him wearing a lab coat and ordered the ppt to shock Mr Wallace every time he got one wrong. The shocks increased each time and went up to a lethal does of 450 Volts.
- Mr Wallace 'yelled out' in pain as the shocks increased and went silent at 300 Volts.
- When the ppt refused to carry on, the researcher would give him a series of verbal prods.
- Every ppt gave at least 300 Volts
- 62.5% of ppts continued to 450 volts
- Most were highly distressed, several cried, dug their nails into their skin, and some even had seizures
- Some however, showed no signs of discomfort
- This shows that people have a strong tendency to obey orders from an authority figure
- Ethical Issues - deception & ppt harm
- Lacked mundane realism & ecological validity
- Gender bias - can't generalise findings to women
- Cultural bias - ethnocentric