What is conformity? A person is said to conform if they chose a course of action which is favoured by the majority of group members, or is considered socially acceptable. In what way are the people on the next slide conforming?
Some key terms Deviation: the opposite of conformity Majority influence Public compliance Private acceptance
Jenness (1932) Individually, guess how many beans are in this jar As a group, come to an estimate Do you want to change your original guess?
Jenness (1932) Asked people individually to estimate how many beans the bottle contained Then put the group in a room with the bottle, and asked them to provide a group estimate. Subjects were asked individually if they would like to change their original estimates, or stay with the group's estimate. Almost all changed their individual guesses to be closer to the group estimate.
Sherif (1935) The Autokinetic effect On the next slide is a light. The light will move and you have to say in which way it is moving.
Sherif (1935) The autiokinetic effect is when a stationary spot of light appears to move due to small movements of the eye Sherif told participants to estimate by how far the spot of light had moved. Asked individually Then exposed to the estimates of two other participants Estimates tended to converge to a group norm which was an average of these individuals’ estimates.
Issues with the previous research Sherif and Jenness both used ambiguous situations to investigate conformity. Little known about conformity in non- ambiguous situations Read Asch’s quote. What research method terms can we use to sum up Asch’s criticisms?
Aims Investigate the effects of group pressure on individuals in unambiguous situations. When confronted with an obviously incorrect answer, would individuals would give an answer which perpetuated this error (conformed) or would they would give an independent response?
Procedures Asch carried out a number of variations of the same experiment. You need to know in-depth procedures for the baseline study, and also some of the variations. Use the textbook page 68-73, and the original text. When in doubt, look to the original text!
The baseline study 8 minutes Complete the table for the baseline study procedure Read and highlight the procedure Findings for the baseline study In a control study carried out before this experiment, it was found that less than 1% of people made errors when carrying out this task when by themselves. This suggests that this task is _____________. unambiguous
Findings from the baseline study On the critical trials, 36.8% of responses were wrong. 25% never gave a wrong answer Others agreed on nearly every trial Behaviour was constant
Those who did not conform… Asch states “Those who strike out on the path to independence, do not, as a rule, succumb to the majority”. confidence in their own judgment capacity to recover from doubt felt it was “their obligation to call the play as they saw it”
Those who did conform… Asch says “Those who chose the path of compliance are unable to free themselves, and the ordeal is prolonged”. Believed that “I am wrong, they are right” conformed so as “not to spoil the results" suspected the majority were “sheep” thought the majority were “victim of an optical illusion” thought they were ‘deficient’
The variations In pairs, read through the original study, and write down the procedure and findings for the variations.
Conclusions The results from both the baseline study and the variations suggest that there is a strong tendency to conform to group pressures, even in an unambiguous situation.
Conclusions The pressure from the majority reduced when the majority was smaller. Pressure to conform was also reduced by the presence of a dissenter, even if the dissenter was giving a wrong answer. Therefore, conformity depends a lot upon the majority being unanimous. For example, when the dissenter started to agree with the majority, many participants began to conform.
Conclusions Read the quote from Asch, and look back at the results. How does this study show how people are able to resist conformity?
Alternative evidence Do Sherif and Jenness support, contradict, or develop Asch’s results? Perrin and Spencer (1980) 1 person conformed out of 396 trials Higher pressure to conform in the 1950s Perrin and Spencer used science students
Alternative evidence Nicholson et al (1985) 32% of British students and 38% of US students conformed at least once. Provides some support.
Alternative Evidence Eagly (1978) Women are more conforming than men in group pressure situations. Can you think of a reason why this would be the case? However, men and women have different short term goals. The result is that women appear to conform more than they would in the real world.
Alternative evidence Bond and Smith (1996) Pg 77 (blue box) What did they do? What did they find? What does it mean about Asch? Berns et al (2005) Brain scan evidence Boel et al (2006) Pg 77 (blue box) What did they do? What did they find? What does it mean about Asch?