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Research into Majority Influence

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Describe and Evaluate research into Majority Influence (Conformity) Majority influence, also known as conformity, is a form of influence in which a large group of people influence a smaller group of people to make them behave or believe the same publicly. Asch's line experiment showed how we look to each other to make sure we are doing what a majority of people think is right. In the experiment he used confederates to influence the true participant. He found 25% of the people in the experiment never conformed meaning 75% conformed at least once. On top of this Asch also found 36.8% of responses made by true participants were incorrect. Crutchfield also did a similar task to Asch in which he got participants to decide the size of a stimulus card. Each participant was out of sight of each other but given fake answers which they believed were the other participants. In fact each participant was given the same answers. Crutchfields research showed that even when people weren't in the presence of others they still conformed for fear of ridicule or looking stupid from the experimenter. ...read more.


This being said this conformity shows how strong the tendency is to conform for such a simple task. This evidence shows how a majority of people can affect a singular person or small group even if they personally believe different to the majority. Asch's findings lead to more in detail research about conformity and development of his ideas to further analyse conformity and how others are influenced by a majority or a unanimous decision. Asch's study showed Informational influence which is the desire to be right, participants looked towards the behaviour of others in order to act how they believed was correct. Asch's experiment was a perfect example of this which was what he was aiming to find from the experiment. To make sure the stimulus was ambiguous Asch conducted a control trial in which confederates never gave wrong answers; he found participants were wrong 1% of the time. This is an example of how Asch's experiment had very low ecological validity because the task would not happen in real life but would have very high control because of the circumstances of the experiment. ...read more.


Zimbardo's study was very different to the others as there was no deception or examples given to show participants how to behave. Guards were told they could make their own rules and punish prisoners as they saw fit, because of this guards began treating prisoners like prisoners of war have been seen to be treated. The task had very high ecological validity because it was a real setting and circumstance that would happen in real life meaning low control as guards were free to behave as they saw fit. All of the participants were post graduate male American students; this is a bad thing about the experiment as you can't generalise and say this is how everyone would behave, students have a different ideology to adults. As the people involved were all also American it only shows how an American would conform to what they have seen on TV or heard about rather than a global effect. If females had been involved the experiment may have been different because of differences in a gender. Zimbardo's study also showed how uniforms affect us or behaviour towards a person such as what happened to the prisoners, feeling stressed and depressed because of their living conditions, humiliation they received and treatment within the prison. ...read more.

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