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

"To what extend has research supported the view that the Majority exerts a significant degree of influence over the individual".

Extracts from this document...


"To what extend has research supported the view that the Majority exerts a significant degree of influence Over the individual" Conformity is form of social influence which results from exposure to the opinions of a majority. Zimbardo et al (1995) define it as a "tendency for people to adopt the behaviour, attitudes and values of other members of a reference." The two most obvious reasons why people conform are because of 'normative influence' and 'informational influence' an alternative explanation is 'referential social influence'. Minority influence is a form of social influence where people reject the established norm of the majority of group members and move to the position of the minority. There are many situations where social influence where social influence can be attributed to exposure to persuasive influence of a minority position, or even a lone dissenter. Consequently although initially dismissed as eccentric or unacceptable by the majority, the views of the minority may become increasingly influential. In Asch's study, he showed a series of lines to participants seated around a table, all but one were confederates of the researcher. ...read more.


Strictly speaking, Sherif's experiment is not an example of conformity in terms of majority influence. Majority influence means a majority influences a minority who then conform to the majority view. Therefore this was no majority or minority view, simply a number of people had different views. Sherif (1935) conducted an experiment using a visual illusion called the autokinetic effect, where a stationery spot light seen in a dark room appears to move. He moved the light around and asked participants to estimate how far the light had moved. They were tested individually being asked to estimate the extent of movement several times. The estimates fluctuated but then settled down and became more consistent. There were wide differences between participants. After hearing the estimates of other participants (the group situation) the estimates of different participants converged to form a group norm which represented the average of individual estimates. According to Sherif, the participants used others estimates as a frame of reference in what was an ambiguous situation. When participants were asked to individually make a second estimate their answers closely resembled the norm. ...read more.


Neither choice is inherently good or bad. A person's judgment about the value of conformity or deviance should depend on the reasons a member behaves in this way. For example, a group member may conform simply to do what the group wants. Compliance is usually bad for the group in the sense that the group is not getting the full benefit of hearing and evaluating opposing views. However, there are times, such as in emergencies when quick compliance is necessary. Finally, group members holding a minority viewpoint can influence members in the majority. The type of influence that minorities can exert however is different from the kind that majorities usually exert. Group members who move their opinions toward the majority are often just complying with the majority. In contrast, the influence of minorities tends to lead members toward a public acceptance of the minority point of view. Further, the presence of a minority helps stimulate group members to think deeply about issues. This often leads members to present new proposals and come to higher quality decisions than they would have if the minority viewpoint had not been present. Overall, group majorities tend to have greater influence over members than group minorities do, therefore majority exerts a significant degree of influence over the individual. Aneil Patel Psychology ...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. Social influence, its concepts and ethics

    After this the naive person watched the 'learner' be taken into another room and be strapped to a chair. The 'subject' was then briefed about the experiment they were told that it was about the effect on pain on learning and that they would be using electric shocks but this would not cause any permanent damage.

  2. The Matching Hypothesis

    number does not equal or exceed 0.564 therefore is not significant enough to prove the matching hypothesis and also prove my hypothesis. For that reason the correlation is insignificant and I have decided to reject my alternative hypothesis and accept the null.

  1. Critically evaluate research concerned with decision making in groups. Give attention to minority and ...

    Exactly how far do we blindly follow and accept others judgements? Asch criticised Sheriffs experiments for being too ambiguous and not really showing any form of conformity; and therefore was difficult to measure exactly how willing individuals were to follow the judgements of others.

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

    Normative influence occurs when people conform to others so as not to appear deviant. Baron et al. (1996) suggests that, relative to low motivation, high motivation may increase conformity in ('Sherif-like') conditions in which the stimulus is ambiguous but decrease conformity in ('Asch-like) conditions in which the stimulus is clear.

  1. Psychology Questions Ansewered

    years old They were then allocated to one of three conditions, the standard fixed array and the one judgement based on their ages. The study contained a restricted sample in that the children all came from a Homogenous background. They were all from Devon England.

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

    Asch aimed to create a method of testing conformity where there would be no uncertainty as to the correct answer. Therefore providing accurate data from which a conclusion could be drawn as to the amount of people who would conform in a certain situation simply due to the pressure of the majority.

  1. Evaluate Why People Conform To Majority Influence With Reference To Real Examples and Research.

    Asch's research in conformity (1951) was an unambiguous task. The aim was still to see if people would conform towards the group norm.

  2. difference between majority and minority influence

    In the non-control experiment, there were a number of confederates and a single participant. In turn, each of the group were required to state which of the lines was the longest. The participant was the penultimate to answer, and as such heard a variety of incorrect answers.

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