Introduction: Conformity occurs when individuals respond to peer- pressure by changing their behaviour to adapt to what the group of people they’re with do. Solomon Asch conducted a study on conformity in 1951 which addressed the contemplation of conformity and non-conformity as a result of peer pressure; his studies are also relevant to pro-social and anti-social behaviour.
Solomon Asch’s experiment was conducted by having five participants and they would sit along side each other at a long table where the experimenter would ask them which of three vertical lines (called the comparison line) are the same length as the standard line. The first few tests, all participants gave the same correct answer. The next test, four people gave the same answer which was incorrect, the dilemma for the fifth person was whether he should give what he thinks is the correct answer or agrees with the previous four participants.
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Data presented by Asch (1955) suggest that 75% of participants ‘make a mistake’ and go along with the group on at least one occasion, although 24% of participants never conformed (van Iersel et al. , 2005). The aim of this experiment was to see how many participants would conform and what influenced them to conform. It was hypothesised that the participants would conform as a result of many variables including group size, unanimity and individual differences. Independent Variable ??? the three conditions (refer to results graph 1 below).
Dependant Variable ??? the number of people that looked up (conformed). Method: Eighteen random students looked up (conformed) therefore taking place in the experiment as participants. The materials used were pen and paper to record the results. The process used for this experiment was watching how many people would conform to a person or group looking up or at a certain object and what variables influenced the participants to look up. Results: Graph 1. (Condition 1: 1 person & 1 observer =4) (Condition 2: 4 people & 1 observer =6) Condition 3:9 people & 1 observer =8) Discussion: The confounding variables that arose were the location, people that became suspicious, not enough people in the yard, all young girls and people that knew about the experiment which altered the results and couldn’t be controlled by the experimenters. The aim was for students to see how many people would conform to what the confederates were doing and what variables influenced them to conform. Those variables included group size, group membership importance and individual differences.
The hypothesis was supported by the observer who counted the number of people who conformed and the variables that affected the result. The results showed Condition 1: 1 participant & 1 observer =4 conformities, Condition 2: 4 participants & 1 observer =6 conformities, Condition 3:9 participants & 1 observer =8 conformities. The reasons behind the conformity are most likely to be participants going along with the experiment that they denied what there eyes were telling them and felt pressured by group norms, size, not to mention the fact that most young people and females are the most probable people to conform (Vaughan, G. Hogg, M. et al. , 2002). Asch’s experiment is so impressive because they were only temporary groups of people were informal and dismissal had no long-term consequence but even then the power of the group was still there. Conclusion: This experiment was performed so that our psychology class could explore whether or not people would change their behaviour due to group pressure and what variables influenced them to conform. The hypothesis was supported by the research that the class did.
The results are not as accurate as they could be due to the independent variables that include the way each individual group had a different location, not enough people in the yard and all participants were young females but it is as accurate as possible considering the variables. Reference: Vaughan, G. & Hogg, M. (2002) Introduction to Social Psychology, (3rd edition) England: Prentice Hall. Van Iersel, Bradley, Clarke, Coon, Koerner, Montalto, Rossborough, Spackman-Williams & Stone (2005). Nelson Psychology: VCE Units 1&2. Melbourne: Thomson Nelson.