Posted at 10.01.2018
Keywords: conformity ideas, obedience theories
Conformity has been identified in number of ways. Crutchfield (1955), identified conformity as "yielding to group pressure". Mann 1969 will abide by Crutchfield, however Mann (1969), argues that it might take different forms and become predicated on motives other than group pressure. (Gross p 479)
Conformity is a big change in idea or behavior in response to real or imagined group pressure where there is no direct question to adhere to all of those other group norm" Zimbardo and Leippe (1991). A lot of research has been done to try and understand the situations individuals have to be directly into conform and the factors affecting conformity. However there are several social and methodological considerations that impact the knowledge of conformity research.
The first study would be Jenness in 1932. Jenness was the first person to review conformity. Jenness asked students to calculate the amount of beans in a bottle. Taking individuals estimations first then put the individuals into communities and asked them to discuss their estimates. Once the findings had been calculated he discovered that the students specifically groups would conform to a group average. According to Jenness in a situation where in fact the answer was unidentified they listened to their peers and would in his view conform.
His research was criticised by Sherif (1935) because the test was not taken out in ecologically valid circumstances. The students weren't in surroundings that were familiar to them thus behaving in a different way. Critics have argued that the students may have conformed in order to make the results easier for the psychologist. This shows informational social effect and is described in a classic study by Sheriff.
Methodologically the first major problem encountered when tests conformity was the ambiguity of the situations the participants were located in. This was highlighted by Mustafer Sherif (1935) when he used the 'auto-kinetic result' to check conformity. The Auto-kinetic effect is a perceptual illusion where individuals understand light moving when in fact it is stationary. Members were placed in a darkened room where they could visit a light that was stationary. These were asked to record what lengths the light relocated and independently they resolved on individual estimates however when the participants were put in a room together with other participants they were encouraged to shout out their quotes. Sherif discovered that they started with different answers but all came up to acknowledge the same answer. Then after they split up the group into individuals again Sherif discovered that they gave the response they had resolved on with the group. In Sherif's research into conformity (1935), desire to was to find out if people comply with a group norm. The results of the test proved that individual replies differed to the people from the group response. The post-experimental interviews said that the participants denied being affected, they struggled to get the right answers, and they never actually experienced part of the group. The conclusions drawn out of this said that the members conformed to the group norm because these were uncertain about their own individual responses. Sherif then argued that his results demonstrated conformity however there was a problem with the methodology. This conformity research was criticised to be artificial and lacking ecological validity. Also, because the duty was regarded as ambiguous and that there have been no real answers, the individuals were much more likely to conform. As the response was very ambiguous and there wasn't an clear answer it was argued that members will conform as they are never completely certain of these answer. This methodology therefore affects Sherif's interpretation of conformity as it isn't very reliable
Solomon Asch (1951) was the psychologist that challenged Sherif's methodological and in 1951 he created 'The Asch Paradigm' where he examined conformity rates to very unambiguous situations. In his experiment there was one participant and seven to nine other confederates who realized about the experiment. The group was asked to recognize measures of vertical lines and match up confirmed vertical line to one of three in another display. Each confederate provided their answer and the participant sat in the next-to-last seating. On some questions all the confederates would give the wrong answer and Asch observed the conformity rate of the participant agreeing with the wrong answer even although answer was very apparent. Asch found that 32% of the tests, the naive subject conformed to answer distributed by all of those other group, and 72% of naive things conformed at least one time. 13 out of 50 naive participants never conformed. When he interviewed the naive members afterward, he found that conformity been around on three levels: distortion of judgement, distortion of perception and distortion of action. Those that experienced distortion of judgement conformed because they trusted the group's judgement over their own. The ones that experienced distortion of action understood that these were right, but altered conformed to avoid ridicule from all of those other group. Finally, those who experienced distortion of conception actually believed that they observed the group's choice as matching the brand on the greeting card. The purpose of the test was still to see if people would conform towards the group norm. The results showed that the individuals conformed to the group norm, even if the answers were incorrect. The naive participant explained their reasons for conforming to be because they didn't want to spoil the experiment, look stupid, their eyes must have been deceiving them, and because they sensed that the group was probably right. This test also told us that the influence from three or even more stooges provided more of grounds to conform than if there is one stooge. The conclusions for this analysis were that people conformed for public compliance alternatively than public popularity. Also it seemed like people with low self esteem were more likely to conform. The technique in this test was much more correct then Sherif's experiment as the answers are very unambiguous and if the members were on their own or first then they would almost certainly have given the right answer. The results from this test are therefore can be a better reason of conformity than Sherif; however there are other methodological problems which will make this experiment rather inaccurate in the interpretation of conformity. However there are also moral issues about the test.
The main criticisms because of this experiment was that it was manufactured, time-consuming, time-dependant and unethical.
The experiment lacks ecological validity credited to a lack of both experimental and mundane realism. It lacks experimental realism as some participants worked out the actual test was or at least thought the experimenter required them to answer the same as others and then the conformity rates could be unreliable. In addition, it lacks mundane realism as the problem does not indicate a real life situation and therefore people may take action differently in true to life and perhaps the conformity rate would be lower.
Crutchfield (1954) criticized Asch that the kind of experiment undertaken by Asch is very frustrating, as only 1 person can be examined at the same time. Richard Crutchfield made a decision to change the experimental method so that several people, usually five, could be examined together. The same kind of problem as Asch used, was used. Each participant sat in a booth with an array of lights and switches in front of them. They were told to provide their answers and each were informed that they were last to reckon and the others guesses were mentioned by the lights on the panel. However each participant was actually given the same display, which on about 50 % the studies was actually wrong. Crutchfield aimed to discover whether people conformed to unambiguous tasks when the pressure from others was more imagined than real. Crutchfield found that 37% conformed all of the time but 46% a few of the time. The results found were really comparable to Asch's but had a lesser conformity rate. This concluded that there may be conformity to imagined pressure. The experiment was criticised to possess specific people used that were perhaps more conforming. And yes it lacked exterior validity. The time the test was done in (1950's) was generally a more conforming time, so that could have been one of why people conformed more. This experiment was also thought to be unethical as the participant were lied to and may have been humiliated.
Stanley Milgram (1963) conducted an test on obedience that outlined the persuasive vitality of specialist in social psychology for the first time. His experiment exceeded all expectation and resulted in greater knowing of authority and exactly how much electricity it credited the perpetrator of it. Participants were made to give increasing electric shocks to someone (who was simply an actor pretending to be getting the shocks through cables) when the person gave the incorrect response to a question. Many of the participants continuing to the highest voltage (450V). There were many reasons why individuals obeyed, including the simple fact that the experiment was at a professional environment (Yale University or college). The experimenter was an expert figure therefore was trusted; and the content were informed that whatever went wrong wouldn't normally be their responsibility. It had been also because the individuals could not see the 'sufferer' which made it appear less real to them or it could have been because the participant possessed taken on a job so they thought that they were someone else.
Milgrams work has been criticised both on ethical and methodological grounds. Baumrind (1964) thought that Milgram exhibited insufficient value for his members, there were inadequate steps taken up to protect them, and his steps could have permanent effects on the participants. Orne and Holland (1968) argued that the participants did not believe they were presenting electric shocks plus they were just participating in with their role in the analysis.
A famous example demonstrating conformity was the test Zimbardo et al. , (1973) carried out the prison simulation test at Stanford School. The purpose of the experiment was to start to see the psychological effects of making the average person into a prisoner or safeguard. After significantly less than 36 hours one of the prisoners needed to be released from the experiment anticipated to severe despair. Other people who were operating as prisoners also demonstrated signs of panic and depression. According to Zimbardo, these results showed how easily people could adjust to a new role in a new situation and act out of persona to fit that role. He quoted 'Note that anyone ever before doubted the horrors of jail, but rather it had been assumed that it was the predispositions of the guards (sadistic) and the prisoners (sociapathic) that made prisons wicked places. Our review holds frequent and positive the dispositional substitute and reveals the energy of communal, institutionalised pushes to make good men engage in bad deeds'. (Gross p 500) There have been many criticisms levelled at his review, (Savin 1973) argues that the prisoners did not give fully knowledgeable consent; they didn't really know what was going to happen to them. They were humiliated and dehumanised by the task when reaching the prison (remove researched and deloused). Savin also argued the point the ends did not justify the means. The study possessed become 'too real' and really should do not have been completed.
Perrin and Spencer (1980) tried out to do it again Asch's research in Great britain in the past due 1970s. They found very little proof conformity, leading them to summarize that Asch's effect was a 'child of its time'. However the low levels of conformity found in Perrin and Spencers review may have happened because they used executive students who was simply given trained in the importance of accurate dimension and therefore acquired more self-confidence in their own views.
Bond and Smith (1996) also considered changes into conformity as time passes predicated on studies completed in america. They conclude the following; "Level of conformity generally speaking had steadily declined since Asch's studies in the first 1950" (Connection & Smith p 124). The conformity rate has been found to improve across time inside a culture, though overall tendencies are definately not clear. Addititionally there is variation between civilizations. These distinctions are related to interpersonal norms.
As a realization, it is fair to say that people conform for most reasons, all which have is one main aim that is certainly to squeeze in with the group. Mainly, people desire to be accepted in their culture and because they may have the need for certainty. Individuals who are within any contemporary society or culture and its beliefs, with regards of what's expected and satisfactory can be "forced" in certain situations to react in anti-social ways. As their behaviour becomes adaptive to meet the needs of "normative social impact" without doing this could lead them to receiving communal and/or ethnic rejection. The researches briefly explains to us how conformity works, however do psychologists tend to bother what goes on following the research has been carried out on the naive participant? Some of the naive participant reported sense quite pressured on the critical trials, which experienced a psychological injury on them. "Do psychologists use deception to obtain their researches completed?" or must i say, "Are they justified?!"
Above all, the studies have further broadened my knowledge on how individuals react in certain situation and has taking me one-step deeper in understanding the entire world.