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Describe and discuss ethical and methodological issues which have arisen in studies of conformity.

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Introduction

d) Describe and discuss ethical and methodological issues which have arisen in studies of conformity. (10 marks) The ethical issue which has arisen in studies of conformity is use of deception. This is where the participants are misled as to the task they are involved in or not fully informed of the situation. Asch deceived their participants about the purpose of the study and the role of other participants. The participants do not know that the participants who are involved in the experiment are confederates. Sherif also deceived their participants about the purpose of the study. However, without deception the aim of these could not be achieved and internal validity would have been compromised. ...read more.

Middle

Any possible harm should be no greater than in normal life. Asch's participants suffered from stress because when the participants gave different answers then the confederates might look at him, therefore, it might create some stress for the participants. However, it might be an argument that participants frequently find themselves in disagreement with others so any discomfort was nothing out of ordinary. The methodological issue which has arisen in studies of conformity is ecological validity. Ecological validity is a special type of external validity referring to generalizations beyond the immediate setting to the real world. Asch's use of line judging and Sherif's illusion are trivial and artificial tasks which bear little if any relevance to everyday life. ...read more.

Conclusion

It might be the influence of demand characteristics. Demand characteristics is features or cues in an experiment which help participants work out what is the aim of the experiment. Helpful participants may respond according to what they think is being investigated. In Asch's experiment, participants sometimes said that they knew they were giving an incorrect answer but did not want to upset the experimenter. In Sherif's study where the task is ambiguous, participants may appear to be conforming but are in fact responding to demand characteristics. Demand characteristics might be influence the conformity of the participants as they do not want to spoil the experiment therefore they do follow the others behavoiur in order to please the experimenter. Therefore, it might not be accurate in the study of conformity. ...read more.

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Response to the question

The student does answer the question by providing several examples of both ethical (deception, protection from harm) and methodological issues (ecological and internal validity) involved in studies on conformity, however there are significant structural and grammatical errors that let this ...

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Response to the question

The student does answer the question by providing several examples of both ethical (deception, protection from harm) and methodological issues (ecological and internal validity) involved in studies on conformity, however there are significant structural and grammatical errors that let this answer down. Unfortunately, there are no introductory or concluding statements to provide a clear outline to the answer – this may be because it was a 10 mark rather than full essay question, but nonetheless even a sentence long introduction and conclusion would gain higher marks (For example: There are several ethical and methodological issues involved in studies on conformity, as has been demonstrated by both Asch’s and Sherif’s experiments, however, it is clear that there are appropriate methods available for dealing with these that allow the benefits to outweigh the costs).

Level of analysis

There are parts of this essay that clearly demonstrate the student’s ability to provide a high level of critical analysis – e.g. “Asch’s participants suffered from stress because when the participants gave different answers then the confederates might look at him, therefore, it might create some stress for the participants. However, it might be an argument that participants frequently find themselves in disagreement with others so any discomfort was nothing out of ordinary” – this particular example shows the student look at both sides to the argument surrounding this example, indicating their ability to objectively discuss the issue and draw appropriate insight and conclusions. On the other hand, this high level of analysis is certainly not reached when referring to their chosen example studies (Asch and Sherif) since there is no introduction or background information into these studies whatsoever, the writer simply assumes the reader knows what they are talking about which is something which should always be avoided! Inclusion of dates of these studies and a short bit of information on what they entailed would improve this essay tremendously as it demonstrates further reading/knowledge on the subject as well as the use of relevant examples to explain each ethical/methodological issue.

Quality of writing

Spelling and grammar in this essay could be improved greatly – the main problem is the repeated use of the sentence ‘The ethical/methodological issue which has arisen in studies of conformity is” – this should be replaced by constructions such as ‘an example of an ethical issue is…’, As demonstrated in Asch’s study ….is another ethical issue that arises..’, ‘Further issues arise through methodological issues such as…’, and so on. This will ensure the essay is easy to read and flows naturally – key signs of a good piece of work.


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