An experiment was conducted on Sherif (1936) autokinetic effect to see whether there will be a significant difference between the levels of conformity between male and female participants in an ambiguous situation. A random sample of 30 participants (5 male, 5 female for the control and 10male, 10 female for the conformity experiment) was used in this study. For this investigation the experimental method was used with unrelated independent groups. The groups were sampled from a dental and health clinic, which included both staff and customers chosen via opportunity sampling.
This was the only factor considered in the sampling.All of the groups were tested under the same conditions and were presented with a jar of sweets. The stimulus to prompt conformity in the experiment was when the experimenter said "...I will ask for your opinion on how many sweets there are in the jar.
Like I think there's about 100". Whether their answer conformed or not to the suggestion was recorded.The results were analysed using the Chi-squared test. A calculated value of 5.06 was obtained which was more than the critical values for both p = 0.
05 and 0.025 of 2.71 and 3.84 respectively showing that the results for a one tailed test were significant and supporting the hypothesis.
IntroductionConformity is a type of social influence, which was defined by Zimbardo as a "tendency for people to adopt behaviour, attitudes and values of other members of a reference group".Although most people think of themselves as autonomous individuals, they nevertheless are inclined to conform to the social norms that individuals, groups and societies have developed. The social norms that designate as a way of behaving may be implicit or explicit.There have been a number of theories to clarify exactly why people conform. Deutsch and Gerard (1955) established the Dual Process model, which states that there are two prevailing psychological needs that lead people to conform to social norms.
Normative social influence, which is highlighted by the aspiration of being liked, we consequently conform because we think that others will approve and accept us.Informative social influence is formed by the desire to be right. We conform by looking to others whom we believe to be correct, to give us information on how we are to behave.The Referential Informative social influence model challenges the Dual Process model.
Turner (1991) suggested that the sense of belonging to a group causes us to conform to its social norms. This self-stereotyping is caused by a process called referential informational influence. The first stage is acknowledging the membership of the group, followed by learning the group's norms and ultimately behaving in accordance with these norms.Types of conformity have also been identified. Kelman (1958) identified three different types of conformity. Firstly he identified compliance, whereby the individual publicly conforms to the behaviour and views of others but does not re-align their own private views.
Identification is when the views and attitudes of a group are adopted both publicly and privately. However, these attitudes and beliefs are dependent on the presence of the group and are often only temporary.Turner also identified a third type of conformity, internalisation. This is a true change of views to match those of the group. This type of conformity is not dependent on the presence of the group, as it is a true internal conversion.
Conversely however, there are occasions where people do not appear to conform. Independence is one explanation for this type of behaviour, as an individual is simply unaffected by the groups norms and behaves according to their own views and attitudes.Anti-conformity is another explanation for why some people resist conformity to group norms. This arises when a person consistently opposes the norms of a group. On the other hand, anti-conformity is also considered to be a type of conformity as the individual still acts in accordance with group norms only their tendency is to act in the opposite way of the majority.
As conformity and social influence are becoming progressively studied more as areas of psychology there have been a number of studies conducted in this area. One significant study was conducted is Asch (1956). In his original study he showed a group two cards, on one card was a standard test line and on the other card was three lines of differing lengths. The participants had to state aloud which line on the second card they thought matched the line on the test card. The correct judgements were always obvious to the participants.
Only one member of the group was naï¿½ve as all of the other participants were confederates of Asch and had been instructed to answer wrongly unanimously on 12 out of 18 trials. The naï¿½ve participant was seated so that they gave their opinion second to last out of the whole group.The results of Asch's experiment showed that on 32% of the critical trials the naï¿½ve participant conformed to the unanimous view of the majority even though the correct answer was clearly evident. Also 75% of the naï¿½ve participants conformed at least once. However, 13 out of the 50 participants didn't conform on any of the trials. Some of these participants were confident on their judgement but many experienced tension and doubt before being able to defy the pressure to conform.
Asch and other psychologists have also performed variations on his original experiment. Morris and Miller (1975) and Asch found that levels of conformity dropped dramatically when one other participant dissented from the majority to support the naï¿½ve participant. Morris and Miller found that when the dissenter's judgement was heard at the beginning of the group as opposed to the end there were lower levels of conformity.Changing the mode of response also had an effect on conforming responses as, when Asch asked the participants to write down their responses the level of conformity dropped sharply illustrating the difference between public compliance and private acceptance.There have also been other variations or cross-cultural studies done after Asch's experiment.
Perrin and Spencer (1981) replicated the procedure using British, as opposed to American, students and found only one conforming response in 396 trials. However, more trials were done since this, which found similar levels of conformity to Asch's study as British and American cultures were more similar than they were in 1981 and 1952.Crutchfield (1955) did a series of studies on individual differences and conformity. He arranged his participants in booths out of sight of each other but able to see the cards. This enabled him to have several naï¿½ve participants at the same time.
All the participants sat in individual booths with a row of switches and lights. They were told that the switches were to be used to show their answers and that the lights would be the answers of the other participants. However, the experimenter controlled these lights and all of the participants saw the same display. Although there was no face-to-face contact when Crutchfield used Asch's line drawing, conformity levels were still at 30%.
When the task was made more difficult conformity levels increased even more.Zimbardo also conducted a very influential study into conformity. He recruited 25 male volunteers to participate in a two-week study of prison life. The local police were also used to arrest 9 "prisoners" who were then taken to a prison where they were strip searched and given prison smocks to wear and their number to memorise. They were then treated like real prisoners and the "guards" were allowed to make up the rule (although no physical aggression was allowed) and conformed to their roles with such enthusiasm that the experiment had to be discontinued after 6 days. Many of the participants who were given the role of the "prisoner" showed signs of anxiety and depression.
According to Zimbardo, these results show how easily people can adapt to a new role in a new situation and behave out of character to fit that role. Two explanations have been given for this change in character. Firstly, that the participant was adopting the stereotypical role of the prison guard or the prisoner. The other explanation is that the participants were displaying demand characteristics and trying to act how they thought the experimenter wanted them to.Whatever the explanation for conformity in this experiment and others, it is a fascinating area of psychology that has not yet been fully explored. In the following investigation the differences in gender and how they affect conformity is also going to be studied.
One study into gender differences found that women conformed more when they were faced with the task of identifying tools, whereas men were more confident in their decisions. This would suggest that familiarity with the subject being tested also plays a part in conformity and so gender could affect the results. For example, if the object were something that was stereotypically "female" then the expected results would be that men would conform more than women, and if the object were something that was stereotypically "male" then the expected results would be that women would conform more.Experimenters remain interested in conformity in contemporary Britain today as it occurs in everyday situations and can have a negative and positive affect on a person's behaviour. The affects can be vast like going along with robbing someone even when you know its wrong, or small like going to the cinema even though you don't want to but the rest of your friends do.
This experiment is based on the Asch experiment carried out in 1952 as an aid in explaining conformity. Even though this experiment was carried out nearly half a century ago it explains conformity well and also it will be interesting to focus on any difference in conformity levels nowadays. Studies like the Asch experiment (as already referred to in the introduction), which was carried out half a century ago, shows a high number of people willing to conform with others. It will be interesting to see if there is a large amount of people who conform to others at the present time.