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Asch aimed to investigate the effects of group pressure on individuals in unambiguous situations

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´╗┐Aims and context of Asch Conformity is the change in behaviour of the minority to fit the behaviour of the majority. It is an important process for psychologists to understand as it is thought to have a significant impact on many of our behaviours and the decisions we make in many situations. For example, how juries make decisions and student behaviour in a classroom. Jenness in 1932 asked students to guess how many beans there were in a jar. Then they were given and opportunity to discuss their estimates and asked to give their individual estimates again. He found that the individual estimates tended to converge to a group norm. Sherif in 1935 conducted an investigation using the auto kinetic effect (a stationary spot of light is projected on to a screen which appears to move). He told them he was going to move the light and asked them to estimate how far the light had moved. They estimated individually and then asked to work within 3 others who gave different estimates they were then asked to give another estimate; these became quite similar to the norm. An issue with these studies is that Asch thought their research was limited and did not really measure conformity. ...read more.


When the participants were interviewed, the participants who did not conform, they replied that they knew that they were correct, and that felt it was their obligation to they call the play as they saw it. Those who did conform gave different reasons. They explained their behaviours in various ways, they said they yielded in order not to spoil the results. Some thought they were ?deficient? in comparison with the rest of the group and this needed to be hidden at all costs. When Asch changed the size of the majority he found that with only one confederate the naive participant was swayed very little. With two confederates the naive participant accepted the wrong answer 13.6% of the time. With three confederates it was 31.8%. The addition of further confederates made very little difference. Having a truthful partner reduced the pressure to conform, participants answered incorrectly on 25% as often as in the baseline investigation. With a partner who changes his mind, when the confederate partner started by being independent but then conformed, the naive participant also behaved independently but then submitted to the majority. Thus his initial independent behaviour had no lasting effect. ...read more.


However, this also criticises Asch?s study because Asch thought his study was better as the task as unambiguous so it measured conformity better than the ambiguous situation of guessing the number of beans in the jar. Sherif (1935) created an investigation into conformity using the auto kinetic effect to show informational social influence. They shined a stationary beam of light into a dark room and asked the participant to estimate how far they thought it had moved. Their results tended to converge to a group norm. This supports Asch?s study as it shows how people conform when they?re in a group. This is also challenges Asch?s study as Asch thought his study was better as the task was unambiguous so measured conformity better than the ambiguous situation of a light moving, maybe people conformed because they were unsure how to act. Perrin & Spencer (1980) suggested that Asch?s high conformity rates might be down be due to the fact that the research was conducted in the USA in the 1950?s which was the era of highly conformist society. They repeated Asch?s study in Britain in the late 1960?s and found that out of 396 critical trials only one student conformed. This contradicts Asch?s study as it shows that the conformity levels Asch found may be only due to the era and country he carried out. ...read more.

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