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Psychology 46-355 Conformity notes

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AS Psychology Social Psychology Conformity ConformityA change in behaviour due to presence of others where there is no direct request to complyNB this is different from obedience next section in notes Obediencewhen social influence takes place due to a direct request by a figure of authorityMost research on majority influence took place in 1950s1960s when ethical constraints were nothing like what they are today The most famous of these was conducted by Asch 1956 It is essential to understand the politics of the era in order to put these experiments in their context McCarthyism Communist witch hunts had gripped the USA during the 1950s and had caused people to become extremely fearful of stepping out of line Many musicians and writers were accused of being communists and put out of work Although by 1954 the McCarthyism fervour had died down people remained fearful of dissent ConformityThere are different reasons why we might conformiNormative conformity Because we dont want to stand out from the crowd eg pretending to like a song so that others in your group think you are cool You might not necessarily agree with the group therefore conformity is characterised by compliance rather than internalisation This means outwardly going along with the behaviour without actually believing it is right This type of influence is not long lastingiiInformational influence Because we are not sure if we are right eg being at a dinner party for the first time in a foreign country and looking for clues as to how to behave This type of influence is more likely to lead to internalisation If internalisationdoes take place then the conformity will be much longer lastingConformity is extremely common in all of us throughout our liveswe learn as children by copying adults and adults follow the social norms of their culture generally accepted ways of acting and thinking that are shared by all members of a social group If someone breaks social norms they are quickly brought back into line eg by a funny look or a reprimandStudies on informational conformity internalisationThe first studies on conformity were conducted on informational rather than normative influenceSherif 1936demonstrated that people conform to group norms when they find themselves in highly ambiguous novel situations He used a phenomena known as the Autokinetic effect When placed in a dark room with a spotlight projected onto a screen the stationary spot of light appears to move although in fact this is just a visual illusionParticipants asked to make judgments about the extent of the movement show great variability in their answers when aloneThe influence of group norms was investigated by putting 3 subjects together 2 whose range of answers was similar and one whose answers were different and asked them to say out loud what their answers wereOver a number of trials all the answers seemed to converge in the direction of the dominant view The deviant person had conformed to the group normSherif found that conformity to the majority group happened more quickly if the subjects had no previous experience of the task and so had not developed a frame of referenceGenerally the more ambiguous the situation and the less experience the person has had of the situation the more powerful the influence of the group with established norms will beoThere was a lack of mundane realism to the task therefore can it really be generalised to other settingsoThe study is more concerned with describing conformity rather than explaining why people conformoThere have been a number of cultural changes since Sherifs time which may lead people to be more independent in their thinkingEthics oSherif could be criticized here over his use of deceptionoPs did not give fully informed consentIf they had been told that the study was about conformity they would have behaved differently Debriefing was therefore essentialoBrown 1988 described the study as one of the single most significant experiments in the history of social psychologyIt was the first attempt to apply scientific methodology to social psychology It led to many more studiesoIt is a clear demonstration of the development of group norms but is it conformityThe task was ambiguous and so did it actually show the Ps changing their opinions and judgements to concur with the others or did they never really have an opinion in the first placeThis criticism led Asch to use a completely unambiguous taskResearch into Normative conformity complianceThe most famous study on conformity let alone normative influence was conducted by Solomon Asch 1956The Asch ParadigmAsch 1955 investigated the effect of group pressure in a relatively unambiguous situation involving simple line judgementsThe subject had to judge which comparison line choice of 3 lengths was closest to the standard line in length and verbally give the response in front of the rest of the group Asch was interested to see whether people would copy an answer that was obviously wrong was it more important for people to be right or to fit inRead about the Asch study with the resources available and fill in the following On the pilot study how many trials did participants complete and how many errors were madeHow many stooges did Asch employ and what was their roleWhat is meant by the terms critical trials and neutral trials How many of each were there for every participant
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