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Discuss and evaluate studies into conformity.

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Introduction

Discuss and evaluate studies into conformity. In this essay I will describe four studies of conformity, these being Jenness, Sherif, Asch and Zimbado. I shall begin with the definition of conformity "individuals show conformity when they behave in ways that are expected by other members of a group." This simply means, that a person when in a group acts in favour of the rest of the group whether it be in ecologically valid surroundings or otherwise. Conformity exists because of social influence, which is the power of a person or group to change a particular view in favour of themselves or the group. There are many ways in which we can conform. Some are useful, others are not. For example traffic jams, if there was no conformity there would be cars in every direction and chaos would be inevitable. Alternatively conformity can cause problems if what the particular nation, country or person is conforming to is wrong one example would be the holocaust. There are many plausible reasons why people conform. One being that the person does not want to go against the views of others. ...read more.

Middle

Then he would do the same with groups of three and ask them the same question they would each have their own personal norms but tended to give an answer close to their peers. He repeated the experiment but allowed them in-groups first then individually the results showed that they continued to act in the influence of the groups even in the individual experiments. This experiment again has been criticised for its lack of ecological validity since the circumstances were very artificial. No members of the participants were used to standing in a darkened room looking at pin of light. In some experiments I is useful to have a few participants who agree a norm which is pre-arranged thus making the results more accurate. Although it does suggest the same principles as in the Jenness study. Meaning compliance and informational social influence. The third would be Asch's study. In his experiment he gathered seven students and were told to look at a display of three lines (A, B and C) and were asked to say out loud which two lines matched. Six members of the experiment were confederates armed with a pre-arranged answer. ...read more.

Conclusion

The experiment was highly dangerous. Riots were reported two days into the study with prisoners acting irrationally and guards were cruel and were beating and harassing their prisoners almost constantly. After a while the behaviour of both parties changed the prisoners became more submissive often walking facing the ground whereas the guards became more hostile the experiment was shut down after six days because many of the prisoners were leaving since showing severe signs of emotional disturbance. Critics have argued that the experiment was unethical and proved nothing. Some say that the guards and prisoners were simply acting out a stereotype. They argued that the experiment was simply "hell" and that Zimbado simply carried the experiment on even though it was obviously causing extreme damage. The facts that the guards were showing more aggression when on their own with prisoners away from recording equipment should have made Zimbado stop the experiment. It is true that experiment was of value but the level of violence was far beyond what was expected. It shows compliance and informational social influence (where the prisoners accepted what happening to them thinking that the guards or the experimenter knew better) This essay shows four studies and their effects on the participants in some extreme (Zimbado) and others not. ...read more.

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