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definitions, criticisms and ethical issues

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Psychology Definitions, Criticisms and Ethical issues Conformity. Conformity involves a change of behaviour or opinion in order to fit in with a group. This may be a membership group (family or peers), or it may be a reference group (pop or sports stars). This group can be either a majority or a minority group. Normative influence This type of influence often comes from peer pressure. Reasons include; fear of rejection, wanting approval, simply to be identified as part of a group and to show loyalty. Informational influence This type of influence is concerned with the fear of looking unintelligent and believing others know better, especially if the task is difficult or unfamiliar. Minority influence A minority group can also strongly influence an individual, this is more likely when the minority are the 'in group', possibly due to social status or age, or they are acting out of principle and have made personal sacrifices in the pursuit of their beliefs. ...read more.


Criticism of Asch's work: Some critics thought the high levels of conformity found by Asch were a reflection of American, 1950's culture: 'It was time-consuming and uneconomical'. (Crutchfield) 'Tasks set not like real-life situations'. (Crutchfield) 'It did not account for minority'. influences Criticism of Milgram's work Milgram was fiercely criticised. His results upset people - this may have been because they felt uncomfortable with what it showed about ordinary Americans. Maybe if they had not been so shocking (excuse the pun!) people would not have given Milgram's work a second thought, perhaps the unpalatable findings made people seek to discredit the procedures. Milgram's work on obedience was attacked on ethical grounds, saying he deceived people and caused unreasonable distress. Volunteers often showed extreme stress - sweating, trembling, stammering, even having uncontrollable fits. The APA decided that Milgram's work was ethically acceptable. On practical grounds, people argued that demand characteristics created the high rates of obedience. ...read more.


It may be argued that the volunteers were not reminded of their right to withdraw from the experiments at any time, in fact, they were encouraged to keep going, in order to see what happened. It is important to remember that neither Milgram nor Zimbardo expected their experiments to have such dramatic effects, although this does not absolve responsibility! To this end, Milgram consulted psychiatrists before carrying out his experiments - he debriefed and followed people up- even after a year - to make sure they weren't hurt by the experience. Most volunteers said they were pleased that they took part. Before his prison experiment, Zimbardo used personality tests on volunteers to select stable characters. Milgram and Zimbardo were very mindful of the state of mind of their volunteers and followed them all up carefully afterwards. Their work has had important implications for the way in which we view cases of blind obedience in real life, for example, the Jim Jones cult suicides and the running of prison systems. ...read more.

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