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Conformity is the change of behaviour or beliefs due to the observation of other peoples behaviour. One explanation for this is NSI (Normative Social Influence).

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Introduction

Conformity Conformity is the change of behaviour or beliefs due to the observation of other people's behaviour. One explanation for this is NSI (Normative Social Influence). This is when people conform in order to be accepted by other people, to fit into a group perhaps. This could be down to the fear of rejection. Although this could change a person's behaviour, it is not likely to change that particular person's own opinions. For example, laughing at a joke that you don't understand because the other people that you are with are laughing at it. The other explanation is ISI (Informational Social Influence). This is when people conform when they are unsure of how to act, so they observe other people's behaviour in order to make, what they think will be, a more accurate decision. This situation, however, can often lead to a change in opinion or private views. For example, ignoring a fire alarm because everyone else does, when you know how dangerous the consequences could be. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that people accept the views of others as their own when in situations such as this. The participants experienced both NSI (accepting the majority's mistake so as not to look stupid) and ISI (doubting own judgement). In conclusion, this study was not representative of the population as only male college students were used, rather than a more varied sample. The experiment lacks mundane realism because simple stimuli (lines) have been used rather than everyday objects/occurrences which would generate more natural behaviour from participants. Unlike Asch's study, Zimbardo's study has high mundane realism and ecological validity, whereby a real life situation and realistic environment were used, making participants' behaviour more natural and therefore achieving more accurate results. Zimbardo conducted a lab experiment to find out how readily people would conform to a role. He used the situation of prison life, where his participants were either given the role of prisoner of guard. He got a sample of random male college students in America, offering $15 per day for the two week experiment and he set up a mock prison in the basement of Stanford University. ...read more.

Conclusion

All of the participants were of sound psychological health; this shows that the prison environment had drastic effects on their behaviour, in particular the guards who had shown no signs of sadistic behaviour before entering the mock prison. People will conform quickly to roles, altering behaviour and attitudes; in this case it only took six days. After six days, the experiment had to be discontinued due to behaviour becoming too extreme amongst the participants. Although this study shows accurate evidence that people do in fact conform to roles, there are many ethical issues with it. Zimbardo used deceptionI by telling participants before the experiment took place that is was a study into "prison life". Therefore Zimbardo did not have participants' informed consent. The participants' distressed behaviour and reactions display that the protection of participants had not been taken into consideration. This could have had something to do with the fact that Zimbardo was playing the roles of both the mock prison superintendent and the chief researcher within the experiment. This would have prevented him from seeing the cruel behaviour of the guards and the harm that the prisoners were coming to. ...read more.

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