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Majority Influence

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Introduction

Outline and evaluate research (theories and/or studies) into majority influence (conformity) Conformity can be described as a major type of social influence and it means to follow a particular group or society. Deutsch and Gerard identified two main reasons that encourage people to conform. These are: 1. Informational Social Influence (ISI) - when we seek answers from others in the belief that they are more informed or have superior knowledge when unsure what to do in a situation. This is demonstrated in a study by Sherif. Sherif's study involved using a visual illusion whereby a spot of light seen in an otherwise dark room appears to move, this is known as the autokinetic effect. Sherif told participants that the light was going to move and they had to estimate how far they thought the light had moved. ...read more.

Middle

Asch aimed to find out whether a group of American male student participants would yield to the majority and give a wrong answer even when the correct answer was obvious. This could be criticised as all the participants were male and they were also all students, who tend to be cleverer than an everyday person, this makes the results hard to generalise. Furthermore, the study was carried out in the 50s when America was a communist country and individualism was not an accepted behaviour. Asch gave the participants a simple task to match one line with another. This experiment was good as the task was relatively easy and the answer was obvious, unlike the ambiguousness of Sherif's previous study, but, it did however lack ecological validity as it presented participants with an artificial situation which has little relevance to everyday life. ...read more.

Conclusion

He tested more than 600 participants which is a large sample and makes generalisations easier. Each participant sat in their own booth and could not see into anyone else's; they were given a stimulus in which they had to answer. They were told that the lights on the display panel indicated other people's answers and always believed they were the last to answer; however, each participant was shown an identical display by the experimenter. Crutchfield found that the rate of conformity depended on the task, the harder the task, the greater the conformity. This can be criticised as once again the participants were asked to complete a task irrelevant to everyday life, therefore the study lacked mundane realism. Perrin and Spencer repeated Asch's line study, instead this time they carried it out in the UK. However, they also used university students, particularly engineering students, who are trained not to conform. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sammie Pinker ...read more.

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Response to the question

Response to Question: In essence, all of the components needed to answer the question are present – the student describes theories of conformity and then evaluates them. For example, Informational Social Influence is described and then evaluated with support ...

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Response to the question

Response to Question: In essence, all of the components needed to answer the question are present – the student describes theories of conformity and then evaluates them. For example, Informational Social Influence is described and then evaluated with support from Sherif’s study. However, the amount of information given is overall lacking. More evidence and evaluative judgements are needed; for example after Sherif’s study is described it could be evaluated (did it have good/bad validity/reliability? Representative sample size/method? Has it been replicated and/or disputed by later research?). To add, no final conclusion is reached on the evidence for and against theories of conformity; if this was added in it would bring together all the points from the essay and hence give a much more convincing argument.

Level of analysis

Level of Analysis: Although some evaluation is given, this is not enough to reach top marks. As mentioned above, evaluating research will give the writer more to talk about and show deeper thinking. Also, some of the points could be explained more explicitly, for example the essay reads - ‘Perrin and Spencer repeated Asch’s line study, instead this time they carried it out in the UK. However, they also used university students, particularly engineering students, who are trained not to conform.’. Here, the writer should say why it was a good idea to replicate with students who are trained not to conform – what further knowledge did this provide us with? Nevertheless, I liked that the student gave a short paragraph explaining what was done in the study – this is much better than simply saying ‘a study was carried out on X and it showed Y’, as the reader is able to evaluate the methodology themselves and therefore come to a more informed conclusion regarding the theory.

Quality of writing

Quality of Writing: No problems with spelling, grammar, or punctuation. However, the structure used (numbering points and using some one-sentence-paragraphs) is very unconventional and should definitely be avoided. The first sentence given could be lengthened with a bit more background information (such as: what are two theories to be described and evaluated? What types of research have studied these influences? Why is conformity studied?) to make a decent introduction. Then the main body of text about Informational and Normative influence needs to be in paragraphs, without numbering or bullet-points (as this style is too informal for an essay). Finally, a concluding paragraph is needed to sum-up the main important points and come to a decision on whether there is good supportive research for the theories, or if they have been disputed.


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