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Investigation into Whether Gender Affects Conformity

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Investigation into Whether Gender Affects Conformity Contents Abstract Introduction Method Results Discussion Conclusion References Appendix Abstract An experiment was conducted on whether gender affects levels of conformity. A random sample of 100 participants (20 groups of 5) was used and people were allocated to groups according to their gender. This was the only factor considered in the sampling. All of the groups were tested under the same conditions and were presented with a line drawing. Four of the five participants were confederates and stated that the line was straight and the view of the naive participant (whether they conformed or not) was recorded. The results were analysed using the Chi test. A calculated value of 5.06 was obtained which was more than the critical values for both p = 0.05 and 0.025 of 2.71 and 3.84 respectively showing that the results for a one tailed test were significant and supporting the hypothesis. Introduction Conformity is a type of social influence, which was defined by Zimbardo as a "tendency for people to adopt behaviour, attitudes and values of other members of a reference group". Although most people think of themselves as autonomous individuals, they nevertheless tend to conform to the social norms that their groups and societies have evolved. The social norms that indicate how we behave may be implicit or explicit. There have been a number of theories to explain why people conform. The Dual Process model was established by Deutsch and Gerard (1955) and states that there are two powerful psychological needs that lead people to conform to social norms. Normative social influence is underlined by the desire to be liked, therefore we conform because we think that others will approve and accept us. ...read more.


Participants who scored highly on these characteristics scored lower on the conformity tests in Crutchfield's study suggesting that personality affects conformity. Another significant experiment conducted in the field of conformity was by Sheriff (1935). He made use of the autokinetic effect by placing participants in a darkened room with a spot of light on the floor. The participants were first of all tested individually and then in small groups of three. They were asked to say how much the light seemed to move, and in what direction. Each participant rapidly developed his or her own personal norm. This norm was stable but varied considerably between individuals. When three individuals with very different personal norms were put together in a group, they tended to make judgements very close to each other. The fact that a group norm rapidly replaced the person norms of the members of the group indicates the existence of social influence. Zimbardo also conducted a very influential study into conformity. He recruited 25 male volunteers to participate in a two-week study of prison life. The local police were also used to arrest 9 "prisoners" who were then taken to a prison where they were strip searched and given prison smocks to wear and their number to memorise. They were then treated like real prisoners and the "guards" were allowed to make up the rule (although no physical aggression was allowed) and conformed to their roles with such enthusiasm that the experiment had to be discontinued after 6 days. Many of the participants who were given the role of the "prisoner" showed signs of anxiety and depression. According to Zimbardo, these results show how easily people can adapt to a new role in a new situation and behave out of character to fit that role. ...read more.


As shown in the table above there was a positive difference between the observed results in levels of conformity between males and females. This difference is also demonstrated in the graphs drawn to show the initial results before statistical analysis. Alternative Hypothesis - there will be a significant difference between the levels of conformity between male and female participants. Null Hypothesis - there will be no significant difference between levels of conformity between males and females and any difference will be due to chance alone. To test these hypothesise the chi test was used to compare the observed results with an expected set of results to see if there is a significant difference between them. Expected results are the values that would have been obtained if the null hypothesis was correct. The expected results for the experiment are shown in the table below: Gender Conform? - yes Conform? - no Male 5.5 4.5 Female 5.5 4.5 The difference values calculated between the observed and expected results are shown below: Gender Conform? - yes Conform? - no Male 1.14 1.39 Female 1.14 1.39 The calculated value form the test was 5.06 The critical value was 2.17 when tested at a significance level of 95% (P=0.05) At this level of significance the calculated value is more than the critical value and so the null hypothesis was rejected showing that there is a significant difference between levels of conformity between males and females. The null hypothesis can also be rejected at a significance level of 97.75% (P=0.025) as the critical value is 3.84 and the calculated value of 5.06 is still higher. For full calculations see appendix ii Conclusion The experiment proved that there is a significant difference in levels of conformity between males and females to a significance level of p = 0.025. this supports the original hypothesis and allows the null hypothesis to be rejected. ...read more.

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