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Psychology Coursework - Conformity

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Alistair Frame Psychology Coursework Introduction Background Research Conformity involves the changing of ones attitudes, opinions, or behaviours to match the attitudes, opinions, or behaviours of other people. This pressure to act like other people, sometimes despite our true feelings and desires, is a common everyday occurrence. This is due to implied and spoken rules of the situation. Many factors can affect a person's level of conformity. These include: * Group cohesiveness - The degree to which we are strongly attached to a group and the amount we would be prepared to do to stay within that group. The 'closer' the group the more conformity occurs * Group size - About three or four people will exert pressure to conform. It is aid that a larger group does not necessarily mean more conformity * In experiments researches have discovered that if the participants were allowed to give their answers away from the group then conformity decreased. If people were allowed to give their answers in private then it is said that they will be less likely to be swayed by other people opinions. * Again in experiments researchers like Asch have discovered that if the task is ambiguous or the problem is made harder then conformity levels are likely to increase. Under conditions where the problem is less obvious then people are likely to go with the majority of the group * It is also said that levels of conformity are going to increase if the status of the people in the rest of the group is high; low status people are likely to conform more to high status people, especially if those people are in some sort of power Experiments, which show conformity: Sherif (1935) Carried out an experiment called the 'autokinetic effect'. This involved a tiny point of light being shown in a completely dark room. After a few moments of concentrating on a spot the spot of light appears to move. ...read more.


5. For each participant give them a blank questionnaire and 3 false questionnaires, telling them that the other 3 questionnaires are there for them to conform or discard any answer that they think is right. 6. Tell the participant that they will have a maximum of five minutes to fill the blank questionnaire in 7. All together 20 participants should be asked, 10 males and 10 females. 8. After all participants have filled ion the questionnaires analyse them to see how many of those 10 wrong answers in the false questionnaires were conformed in, seeing if there are any differences in the conformity levels between males and females. Controls Maybe it will be just a coincidence that the answers that the participants put down correspond to those answers that are wrong in the false questionnaires; therefore no concrete conclusion of the conformity levels can be made. Also the various ages of the participants may affect the results as older people have a wider general knowledge than younger people and will have more of an idea of what the correct answer is and as a result not conform with those wrong answers in the false questionnaires. Before each participant fills out the questionnaire we will make sure that they consent in doing a psychology study, tell them that they can withdraw at any time (protecting them from stress) while doing the questionnaire and also notify the participants that there answers they put will stay confidential. Also after the participant has filled in their questionnaire I will debrief the participant and explain what the study will show. Doing these things will make sure that the study complies with ethical guidelines. Making sure that the amount of males and females are kept constant is the only control that we can really focus on. Therefore other factors may affect the levels of conformity e.g. the environment in which the questionnaire is filled in, which I will discuss when explaining the validity and reliability of this study. ...read more.


the result is too close that you cannot make a concrete conclusion about any difference in conformity levels between males and females. Overall you can say from this study in contemporary Britain people of both genders are willing to conform more than what they would by just going with their own opinions. You can't really say from these results that they correspond to the same conclusions that Asch and Sheriff gained form their studies, because their studies showed a lot more significance about conformity than this one. Also different types of conformity were tested in the Sheriff and Asch studies so no comparison can really be made. Generalisability To a certain extent it can be said that the results form the study show that people these days will conform more than just giving their own opinions. However, the experimenter only used 20 participants, which is a small amount amount of people to make a generalised conclusion about, as individual differences could play a big part in the outcome of the results. Also the results saying if there is any difference in conformity levels between males and females is too close to make a generalised conclusion, therefore any difference in conformity levels between males and females if due to chance. Real life application Even though the research method of questionnaires lacks mundane realism the actual concept of conformity is an everyday occurrence. Conformity can have little effect e.g. going along with your friend to the cinema even though you don't really want to, or a big effect, for example during World War II German when complied with Hitler to kill many Jews even though they knew it was wrong. Both effects, large or small, can be to some extent linked to the results, as it shows that people do conform to one another. Therefore no matter how big the effect of conformity people life's can be affected by the fact that they are willing to conform more than going along to what they feel themselves. ...read more.

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Overall a reasonable demonstration of understanding and knowledge of conformity. Remember to proofread - several spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are evident. 4*

Marked by teacher Stephanie Duckworth 16/07/2013

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