Essay on Conformity and Obedience

Words: 3311
Pages: 14

Conformity and Obedience
Task: outline and evaluate findings from conformity and obedience research and consider explanations for conformity (and non-conformity), as well as evaluating Milgram’s studies of obedience (including ethical issues).

The following essay will be about understanding what is meant by and distinguishing the differences between the terms conformity and obedience. It will show the evaluation of two key psychological studies which seek to explain why people do and do not conform, also with explanations of minority influence. Whilst seeking to understand the reasons why people obey authority, it will show an evaluation of Milgram’s study of obedience, discussing the ethical issues raised from the research and
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It is pretty much impossible to live amongst people and not become influenced by them in some way. Sometimes people’s attempts to change our behaviour are very obvious. On other occasions social influence is less direct and may not involve any explicit requests or demands, for example, when your choice of clothes or taste of music is influenced by what your friends wear or listen to, you are showing conformity. Your peers exert pressure on you to behave (and think) in certain ways, a case of the majority influencing on the individual. Asch (1951) devised a simple perceptual task were the solution was clear and obvious to see. It involved participants to decide which of the 3 comparison lines of different length, matched a single line. The experiment consisted of 123 male students from Swarthmore College in USA. There was an obvious answer and the participants would be sat amongst 4 to 6 confederates and would be sat in either seat 5 or 6 around a table. The participants would give the correct answer but as the experiment went on, the confederates began to start choosing the wrong answers to see if the participants would conform to the majority. The results showed on average 32% of people conformed in critical trials, 75% of people conformed at least once and just 25% of people failed to conform at all. After the experiment the participants were asked why they conformed. To which they all said to be right or because they doubted their answers. Asch