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Strengths and constraints of conformity and obedience

Social effect is the affect of social factors on behavior. This refers to the effect others have on the way people think and respond. Conformity and compliance are major aspects of social effect. Conformity and compliance have a key point in common; both involve changes in someone's behaviour due to sociable pressure. They change in from one another in important ways. Obedience involves a direct requirement to change behaviour in response to power whereas conformity is a big change in behavior in response to group norms. Milgram mentioned a person obeys when they 'comply with power' they conform when they 'go along with their peers who've no special right to direct their behaviour. These are areas of psychology which have continued to attract the attention of many psychologists, which I will discuss below.

Conformity can be categorised into two main teams, normative social influence is when one changes their private views to complement that of others and the necessity to be liked and accepted. Informational influence is when people are unsure of their own judgments and also have the need to be appropriate and behave in accordance to others. Sociable psychologists such as Sheif and Asch have conducted numerous experiments and figured through a number of social influence, teams can change member's thoughts and behavior. Conformity occurs when individuals react to peer- pressure by changing their behaviour to adjust to a group.

Muzafer Sherif (1935) devised an experiment to investigate conformity and group norms. He used an auto kinetic result which a fixed spot of light in a darkened room seems to move around. He divided the members into two teams, and the first group was tested separately. Each participant sat together as was instructed to look at this stationary light and asked to estimate what lengths it relocated. He discovered that their estimates assorted and there was a considerable amount of differences between your estimates each participant produced. Once the participants were put in small groups, he found at first that the quotes varied and each individual based this on the personal norm. Steadily their estimates arrived collectively and became more similar, finally the group come to a consensus and an organization norm experienced developed to which the members conformed. In another test each group developed a group estimation to which each member conformed, then tested the participants again separately and their answers mirrored those of their group. He found they persisted to check out the group norm. Sherif's test proven how group norms form, and how individuals comply with these norms. It also shows the effect of informational cultural influence. The task in his experiment was ambiguous so there is no wrong or right answer. This test also showed private acceptance as members internalised the group norm and made it their own, even when they were examined individually they founded their answers on the group norm. Solomon Asch criticised Sherif's test and argued that sheriff had not proven conformity and that a true test of conformity is to see if people will agree with others when the test job is unambiguous. Solomon Asch (1951) devised an unambiguous test to check if people will conform when they are sure the judgements of almost all is wrong. Members were presented with two cards on one card was a single standard range and on the other was three assessment lines. Participants were asked to judge who of the evaluation lines was equal to the standard lines. The first group was a handled group of thirty seven used for assessment with the experimental group, and the pressure to conform was removed. Individuals were simply asked to guage the assessment lines without the pressure to conform to the judgements of others. Asch found that thirty five made no problems, only two made minor errors. In the experiment situation there was only one participants and the rest consisted of people who worked with Asch. The participant was unaware that he was the only real participant and didn't know the complete experiment was about his behavior. To start with the confederates provided the right answers and the members agreed these answers were clear. Then using one comparison job all the confederates gave the same incorrect answers and this was repeated with different members. Asch discovered that only 25% gave the correct answer in every case compared to the 95% in the manipulated group. Asch completed interviews after to find out what influenced the members to conform. He found his experiment clearly demonstrated general population compliance rather than public popularity, majority knew they were right but proceeded to go combined with the group majority and gave the incorrect answers. The individuals in his test displayed that people are sometimes prepared to go with others to gain group approval, a good example of normative social impact. The energy of majorities affect was seen in their behaviour and many displayed symptoms of pressure to conform to the majorities views. In a similar experiment by Crutchfield (1955) he found similar results to Asch and that pressure to conform can happen without face to face communication.

Criticisms of Asch's test was the members were pressured when the confederates provided the incorrect answers and were devote an uncomfortable situation, which can look like unethical. Participants did not provide informed consent as these were misled about the key areas of the test. All participants were men which created a limited sample.

People have a tendency to obey for two main reasons, first because they start to see the expert of others as right and lawful known as genuine authority. Secondly they could obey because they're having to and may fear the consequences if they won't do it, this is known as illegitimate authority. Early on research into obedience was based around the Nazi regulations of genocide in the next World War to find out why people obeyed purchases which violated moral codes of human behavior.

Psychologists have carried out many reports of obedience to determine why people obey and their explanations are divided between situational and dispositional. Situational is not predicated on the sort of person you are however the situation you end up in shapes the method that you action, whereas dispositional explanations looks at the individuals personality. Milgram required to learn whether ordinary People in the usa would obey an unreasonable order from a person of power to inflict pain on another and what factors led a person to follow. Milgram developed a series of experiments that pressured individuals to either violate their conscience by obeying the demand of an authority figure or to refuse those needs. Milgram designed a simple experiment to look for the amount of pain a normal human being would impose on another, simply because he or she was obeying purchases of an authority figure. In another of his experiments he had two themes, one being the "teacher" and the other the "leaner". This experiment was rigged so the participants would continually be the educator. The learner was then strapped to an electric couch in another room. Then the teacher was positioned before a distress generator and advised for each fault made by the learner over a paired associate phrase process he must deliver a surprise. With each fault the teacher would have to increase this by 15 volts. At 300 volts the learner viewed pain and stress and after 315 volts he ended responding to the teacher's questions, however the professor was instructed to continue to keep on shocking the learner even if the learner ended responding. The instructor is a naive subject who may have come for the experiment as the learner is an actor who gets no shock by any means. Milgram conducted the test out several different types of topics, and first wanted predictions that subjects would refuse to follow the experimenter. His predictions were in deniably incorrect. He discovered that 65% of members continued to the maximum voltage of 450 volts and follow instructions. However, many exhibited signs of problems, and whenever the participant threatened to pull out of the test the experimenter would encourage them to continue. There were factors of this experiment which may have varied the amount of compliance, with the learner in another room led to a physical distance between him and the participant, and could not start to see the anguish of the learner. It was found that people we less prepared to follow orders when they could start to see the learner and the conformity rate dropped to 30%. Milgram found that people obey depending about how they perceive the individual giving the purchases. Also obedience is determined by individual variations in people's personalities, activities and backgrounds. Milgram figured his experiment suggested that in a certain situation common people will obey orders from those in power even if this will go against their moral values. Hofling et al (1966) backed Milgrams research and carried out a similar test in a genuine life setting up using nurses. The nurses in his test were used to the hierarchy of specialist within a medical center setting, and there is no question that doctors provided purchases and nurses obey. You can find evidence from both these experiments that removing responsibility encourages compliance.

However, critics of Milgram claim that his conclusions reflect flaws in his test, and that the behaviour of his members does not represent how people would normally respond in response from an specialist figure. His strategy has been criticised as artificial much like all laboratory tests. Orne & Holland stated that the problem which the members were put in did not resemble a genuine life situation so this lacks ecological validity. Milgrams experiment was seen to be unethical as the participants were exposed to high degrees of stress, the members were deceived and there was no informed consent.

The methods employed by Milgram during in the 1960's would in today's world raise serious honest concerns, however his results are important and relevant in to the study of conformity as he found that people will obey power even when it goes against their ideals and harms others and this obedience can lead to chapters ever sold as the genocide of the Jews. Milgrams research into compliance to authority found that it is difficult to observe how population could operate without some extent of compliance to something of authority.

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