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Outline some criticisms of majority influence research and consider whether these are fair

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Outline some criticisms of majority influence research and consider whether these are fair In 1935, Sheriff studied conformity in an ambiguous situation using a phenomenon known as the auto kinetic effect. This was done by shining a dot of light onto a wall in a dark room and asking participants to stare at it for a length of time. He would then ask how far they thought it had moved. Even though the dot did not move at all and participants were not told, therefore the participants always had an answer. Sheriff's study was criticised for having no physical means of testing reality, high ambiguity and for not having a single correct answer. His study was also criticised for the lack of mundane realism and ecological validity, as his study did not imply any likeliness towards a real life situation. ...read more.


He asked them to match the line on its own with a line out of the three. But the participant didn't know that all the other participants were confederates giving the wrong answer purposely to influence the participant. Asch's findings did not match his hypothesis as most people conformed. Asch was criticised for only using male college students as his participants and that the sample did not represent the population so his study was biased. Also it did not generalise to other groups such as women and other cultures thus, his study was also culture bias. It has also been criticised for the lack of ecological validity, as the participant's behaviour would be different in the outside world. Moreover, the study lacked Mundane Realism, as the experiment was not liable to occur in real life, if it did the experiment would have to be far more ambiguous. ...read more.


In conclusion I think that the majority of criticisms made about conformity research are not very fair. To get a fair result psychologists cannot always tell their participants the truth about the experiment because there behaviour will not be natural for example the big brother show on television is to show how people act when put in certain situations but if they know that they are being watched then their behaviour will be different to what it is in real life because they want to be liked. It is hard for psychologists to mimic real life situations without deceiving participants about the real reason for the experiment, as demand characteristics will make participants act differently. Moreover, a laboratory isn't exactly a realistic situation. But if they were told the truth then we would not see their natural behaviour and the experiment would not be fair. ...read more.

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