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To what extent does research into conformity allow us to make predictions on individual behaviour?

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Introduction

´╗┐Bethan Brady, I.B 1. To what extent does research into conformity allow us to make predictions on individual behaviour? Conformity is the tendency to change your beliefs, attitude or behaviour based on the actions of those around you. There are two main types of conformity-compliance and internalisation. Compliance is where you change your behaviour too fit your peers, although your belief may not change, as shown in Asch?s experiment (the essay will explore this experiment more). Where-as internalisation is where your beliefs change as well as your behaviour. A good example of this is when a person becomes vegetarian because your peers believe that harming animals is wrong. This deep behaviour is what leads to an attitude change. People are believed to conform for two main reasons, too fit into the group they are with(normative influence) and because they believe the rest of the group is more informed than themselves (informational influence). Asch?s experiment was too monitor?s people?s behaviour when the rest of the group gave completely incorrect answers. ...read more.

Middle

All the participants in Asch?s experiment were male, in the same age range, and from university. From this alone it could be suggested that the experiment doesn?t allow us to make predictions on an individual?s behaviour, because the sample of participants was so narrow. The experiment also lacked ecological validity. It was so unlikely to happen in everyday life, that again, it?s impossible to predict an individual?s behaviour from it. In 1980 Perrin and Spencer carried out the same experiment as Asch but with British Engineering, Mathematics and Chemistry students in a university. These results were a complete contrast to Asch?s with only one trail within 396 trials with a case of someone conforming. Perrin and Spencer also carried out the experiment again with young offenders as participants and probation officers as confederates. These results mimicked the original experiment. This could be because of the fear between the participants to the probation officers. From looking at these variations of the same experiment, the idea of being able to predict a person?s behaviour is unlikely. ...read more.

Conclusion

The participants genuinely believed that their peers were correct, because the experiment was so ambiguous it is very hard to determine whether this experiment could actually predict people?s future behaviour. Sherif also had similar flaws in his experiment too Asch?s. Sherif only used men. This could raise the question that if women had been used as well would there be less or more evidence of conformity? In conclusion, research into conformity does not allow us to make a prediction of a person?s future behaviour. A major flaw in previous experiments is that they lack ecological validity. How can an experiment of judging line length or judging the movement of a light help us predict a person?s future behaviour? The complete lack of ecological validity makes predicting a person?s behaviour from it impossible. Also, in previous experiments, the sample of participants has always been very narrow. The majority of previous experiments have been done on male university students; this again, backs up the idea that you can?t predict a person?s future behaviour. From just two experiments you can see that predicting a person?s future behaviour from previous conformity research is an impossible thing to do. ...read more.

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