• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Describe and evaluate psychological research into conformity and obedience in humans, and consider ways in which this research can be applied to real life.

Extracts from this document...


Joleen Moret 25th November 2002 Access to H.E. Psychology Coursework Describe and evaluate psychological research into conformity and obedience in humans, and consider ways in which this research can be applied to real life. Conformity is a change in behaviour or beliefs as a result of real or imagined group pressure; the feeling that others are putting pressure on us to change our beliefs or behaviour. Asch (1956) compiled a study to see how many subjects would conform and give an incorrect answer to a simple unambiguous task. Apart from one na�ve participant, all other members of the group were confederates of the experimenter. The group were sat around a table and asked what line (with a choice of three) matches the single line in a box. The lines were easy to distinguish and if tested on their own, observers made few if any errors. The confederates were instructed to give the same wrong unanimous answer to see if the na�ve participant would conform. Thirty-two percent conformed to the group's answer, and seventy-four percent conformed once; thus denying the evidence of their own eyes, giving the wrong answer when it was their turn. ...read more.


Zimbardo believed that "the reality of this study and its findings made people uneasy because they preferred not to consider that they might have behaved in the same". The result of the simulation may have shown to what level the students conformed to under a great deal of stress; they could have conformed for many reasons for example: so as not to be a failure, it was in a prestigious university and maybe because they were being paid. The result is bias because they were all male participants, of one culture and all students. The results can not be generalised any further than of this type of person and the type of environment they were in; which was nothing like what they had been used to. Asch's research has highlighted that in some situations people are not sure of what they believe is right. The results of the Asch effect could be a way of interviewing new employees and detecting the most self assured, confident people, whom use their own initiative, can work under pressure and does not conform to group pressure. Zimbardo's research could be used in total institutions such as prisons, the forces and psychiatric units. ...read more.


suggested that Milgrams results were valid. Hofling showed that obedience to an authority figure could occur just as readily in real life. In Hoflings experiment, nurses in a hospital were asked over the phone by a bogus doctor to administer an overdose of a drug without obtaining authorisation. Twenty-one out of twenty-two nurses attempted to administer the placebo drug, but before it was given the nurse was told of the true nature. This order violated several rules; the dose was clearly excessive, medication orders are not permitted to be given by telephone, the medication was an 'unauthorized' drug, and the order was given by an unfamiliar person. Despite all this ninety-five percent of the nurses started to give the medication. In interviews after the experiment, all the nurses stated that such orders had been received in the past and that doctors became annoyed if they did not do so. The results of this experiment could be said to be biased; the subjects were all nurses and are influenced by a social role, the results could only be true of the time and could not be representative to today's nurses. Milgrams and Hoflings studies show us how powerful obedience is, and what effects the level of obedience. The results form these studies could be applied in schools, the police, the forces or of any presence of authority. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

An interesting selection of research utilised to debate the question of conformity and obedience and how this can be applied to real life. 4*

Marked by teacher Stephanie Duckworth 03/05/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Is Psychology a Science?

    5 star(s)

    Variables are measured, and carefully controlled to a point. Laboratories are often used in an effort to improve controls - controls are as thorough as possible, so that general laws about behaviour can be built.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Critically evaluate whether Milgrams research on obedience was ethical

    4 star(s)

    There was a great deal of debate around whether Milgram showed enough respect for his participants and many believed that they were not protected against long-term harm. There have also been claims that the studies involved lack of consent and deception amongst many other issues that are now known as ethical concerns.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    "Describe the main features of conformity and obedience analyse two conformity and obedience studies ...

    let our own thoughts be heard, we would end up in a very narrow minded society where a few people with stronger personalities and that dare to speak their mind will most probably gain control over us all, and society will follow this leader who may not necessarily be the

  2. Experiment investigating conformity in students.

    There was one independent variable - behaviour of accomplices. The dependant variable was the judgement of the subject who had no idea that the experiment was taking place. Participants There were twenty-eight participants (fourteen female, fourteen male), all pupils at Belmont Academy, Ayr, all were aged 16 years and all had white ethnic backgrounds.

  1. Outline and evaluate Milgram's study into obedience (12 marks)

    However, Milgram extensively debriefed his participants, including reuniting them with the learner. The participants therefore left understanding that they hadn?t hurt anyone.

  2. Describe and evaluate the explanations of conformity. (12 marks)

    For instance McGhee & Teevan (1967) found that students high in affiliation were more likely to conform.

  1. Obedience & Conformity: The Situation In Abu Ghraib

    U.S defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that ?? Unlawful combatants do not have any right under the Geneva Convention??. (Reuters, 2002) Psychologist, Philip Zimbardo explained the behavior of the guards blaming the situation they were put into. ?? They?re overwhelmed; Fredrick and the others worked 12-hour shifts.

  2. Outline and evaluate explanations of obedience

    Each of the situational factors seem to assume people will all act in the same way, yet when looking at the results of Milgram?s research, 40 percent of the participants did not administer all the shocks, which shows that for example, gradual commitment did not apply to all the participants.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work