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

Outline Some Criticisms of Majority Social Influence Research and Consider Whether these are Fair

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Outline Some Criticisms of Majority Social Influence Research and Consider Whether these are Fair Majority social influence is the way in which a person's beliefs, attitudes or behaviours are modified by the presence or actions of others. This is through either normative social influence- based on a person's desire to be liked, or informational social influence- based on a person's desire to be right. This area is interesting to psychologists, and many have attempted to understand what leads people to conform in human nature. There are two key studies into conformity- Asch (1951) and Zimbardo (1973), both are important in understanding the effects of the majority influence and helping us to grasp why conformity happens. However, each study has its strengths and limitations. A key study in observing how and why people chose to yield to the majority was Asch's (1951) experiment using the comparison of lines. In each trial seven male students were used as the participants, one of which was the 'na�ve' participant and was the observational subject from whom the results would be collected. The other six were confederates of the experimenter, and were told what answers to provide in the study. The group were shown two cards at a time, one with three lines of different lengths on, and the other with a comparison line (which matched one line from the first card). ...read more.

Middle

So, although his original experiment had limitations, one of its greatest strengths was that it could be used years later for extended research. This has contributed greatly to psychologists' understanding of conformity in different situations and varied cultures. One of the most infamous and influential studies into the effects of conformity is Zimbardo's (1973) Prison Simulation Study. Male students were paid to take part in the prison simulation, randomly being allocated the role of either guard or prisoner. The guards were permitted to create their own rules, and were told they could do as they saw fit (within reason) to maintain law and order inside the jail. However, the experiment was taken further than anyone had anticipated when the men conformed so greatly to their perception of the stereotypical guard that the investigation had to be stopped. The participants- who had previously been classed as 'showing no sadistic tendencies', were shaped by their expectations of prison guards. This moulded their behaviours and attitudes, forcing them to conform to a stereotype; as can be seen in everyday life, but to a lesser extent. Such great changes in character occurred across only six days, it is hard to imagine how much people may change in real life in order to conform and be accepted. ...read more.

Conclusion

In order to have been successful additional safety precautions ought to have been put in place before the experiment began. The results could not have been predicted- if they were the study wouldn't need to be carried out- however some of the suffering could have been prevented if safety measures were present. The levels of sadism seen should never have been reached before the simulation was brought to an end. Overall, although the study provided a great and influential insight into the workings of human behaviour in conformity, these positive effects are outweighed by the negative effects from the ethical guideline breaches. Participants could have been severely harmed both psychologically and physically, and may not have recovered. This should never happen in a psychological experiment, not matter how much can be learnt from the results and conclusions. Many of the criticisms of these research pieces are fair. They can be discussed to a great extent, especially in the area of ethics. The criticisms serve to ensure that the conclusions are applied accurately, and to improve further experiments. They also help to mould psychology so that when a study goes wrong- like Zimbardo's simulation- the same mistakes are not made again. This helps us to form the ethical guidelines of psychology, and to judge what makes an experiment reliable. Overall this improves the field of psychological experimentation. ...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

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

    Describe and evaluate psychological research into conformity and obedience in humans, and consider ways ...

    4 star(s)

    According to Zimbardo; the results demonstrate how easily people can come to behave in uncharacteristic ways when placed in a new situation and given new roles. Zimbardo's prison simulation has been criticised by many because of the ethical issues involved.

  2. The aim of this experiment is to find out if people will conform without ...

    This would of course not account for things such as their particular mood at the time of the experiment. Their mood could cause effects such as the feeling that they just want to get it over and done with and so therefore will rush, not taking time and thinking about it.

  1. To what extent are individual influenced by the majority and how can this be ...

    Social influence is considerably reduced if the sources of potential influence are not unanimous. Moscovici et al. (1969) obtained about 33% conformity rates to a consistently incorrect minority. Minority influence is claimed to be uniquely persuasive, leading to genuine conversion rather than the 'public conformity' (a.k.a.

  2. Social influence, its concepts and ethics

    and a teacher, and the way that you would speak to a student would not necessarily be the way you would talk to your own child. Conforming there are two main types of conforming, which were developed by Kelman (1958)

  1. Briefly outline findings from studies of majority influence (conformity) and consider the value of ...

    Although the study was performed in more realistic circumstances the lab environment means that there is a lack of mundane realism and these types of tasks are unlikely to happen in the real world. The fact that Crutchfield used a wide variety of participants generalises with more people and it

  2. The experiment conducted tested the theory of conformity under the influence of group pressure.

    People react to opinions differently. Instead of rating their opinions on a scale of "good" to "bad," they rate from "correct" to "incorrect." They then change their opinions to be closer to the "correct" end of the scale. Social comparison theory has been very influential in the field of small-group research.

  1. To investigate what if participants were exposed to normative social influence in a solution ...

    Findings/Results- there was a surprising amount of conformity. On 32 per cent of the critical trials (those when the confederates had given the wrong answers), na�ve participants conformed to the unanimous view of the majority. This might not strike you as a particularly high figure, but remember that the correct answer was always obvious.

  2. investigating levels of majority influence

    Also this type of study (into gender differences in majority influence) has not been done recently in an inner London school. So that means that the results will most likely be different to Maslach et al. And Zimbardo and Leippe's results since their investigations took place in a different setting

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