Conformity and Obedience Essay

Words: 2543
Pages: 11

Conformity and Obedience

Why do we conform? Two basic sources of influence: normative social influence, the need to be liked, accepted by others and Informational influence: need to be correct and to behave in accordance with reality.
Solomon Asch (1956) devised an experiment to see if subjects would conform even if they were uncertain that the group norm was incorrect. In his study he asked subjects to take part in an experiment. They were each asked to match a standard length line with three other lines.
He found that one of the situational factors of conformity is the size of the opposing majority. In a series of studies he varied the number of confederates that gave correct answers from 1 -15. He found that subjects conformed
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The learner gave mainly wrong answers and received his shocks (or so the teacher thought) as the voltage increased the learner began to bang the wall and shout and scream as though in pain. As the reactions began, the teachers would hesitate but the psychologist in his white coat would say that it was ‘absolutely essential that you continue':- the teachers did continue even though some of them showed signs of believing they were inflicting pain and had sweats, trembles and some were said to have full blown seizures. 65% of the participants in this study went all the way and gave 450 volts. 65% is rather incredible but let's say it had been exaggerated. Say its only 10% our population is roughly 250 million 10% of that is still 25 million.
After the experiment Milgram did debrief the participants and gave them all examinations a year later none of them showed any signs of psychological harm.
Just like Aschs experiment, Milgram's has been altered to find the affects of other variables. One set of experiments looked at the proximity of the learner, in the original experiment he was in a separate room out of sight but could be heard. What if he were in the same room or right next to the teacher? Or what if the learner had to be touched by the teacher to administer the shock? As you may expect the proximity greatly reduced the amount of obedience.