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PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Brother Roger, Groupthink, Kent Cochrane

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John Bassili

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Psychology: Chapter 15 Lecture
Asch’s Conformity Situation
Solomon Asch did some research to see the power of conformity and how big of an influence it
has on people’s decisions.
He had a group made up of confederates or stooges and 1 real subject. They were asked to look
at a picture of a line and compare it to 3 others lines and see which one of the 3 was the same
as the other one.
The stooges were instructed to give the wrong answer, and although the subject also knew the
correct answer he proceeded to give the incorrect one, he said line 1 even though line 3 was
This experiment shows the great need to conform, and the ways individuals in groups react to
that need.
1/3 of cases subject reports the wrong answer, 1/3 of people succumb to conformity even
though not a word is said to the person.
It is found that the number of people in the majority affects conformity. If it one person you
wont conform but if its 2,3,4, then it increases. But one you go higher it doesn’t make a
difference anymore, so conformity increases only to a certain point. So between 100 and 1000
people in the majority, conformity will not be significantly different.
2 other factors: unanimity: less likely to conform if someone else deviated from the majority
regardless of whether or not their answer was the same as yours or not. And commitment: less
likely to conform if you are more committed to your answer.
2 reasons why people conform: Outcome Dependence: the want to be liked, fit in and not
ridiculed: as observed in Asch experiment or Information dependence: the subject themselves
doesn’t know the answer so the turn to the majority for guidance.
Stanley Milgram’s experiment with the shocks being administered to the learner by a teacher
every time they student incorrectly answers the question. Conducted in 1962 at Yale University.
The shocks were punishment in a memory experiment.
Subjects 40 males between ages of 20 and 50 obtained from newspaper ads. The people range
in education and profession
Its basically a fake machine where the so called student or learner is actually in on the act with
the experimenter and the teacher actually becomes the learner. Electrode connected to them
but the teacher doesn’t know its a setup.
If you correctly buzz in the answer, your safe but if not you get a shock and the voltage of the
shocks increase for every wrong answer to XXX.
As each shock is administered, the “learner” wails and screams, he even says at the beginning
that he has a heart condition (which is a lie, but the teacher doesn’t know this)
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