Asch (1951 etc.): ‘The lines’
Again, you are all aware of the procedure. Briefly stated: participants are deceived into taking part in a study on visual perception. They are seated at a desk with others that they believe to be fellow participants but who in reality are in league with the researchers (stooges or confederates). Lines are presented on a screen and participants simply have to say which line (out of 3 possibilities, is the same length as the target line). The stooges get the right answer on the first two trials but then start to make deliberate mistakes. Conformity is measured by counting the number of times the real participant conforms when stooges give the wrong answer. Mind Changers: Solomon Asch
‘Describe the procedure.’ Easy peasie, describe the experiment as above. You could mention some of the variations. You could also mention the pilot study that Asch carried out first in which errors were only made on 3 trials out of 720. ‘Describe the findings.’ This one is more likely and also more troublesome. What you must avoid doing is wasting time by describing the procedure. To answer this one, first of all mention Asch’s initial findings: Overall conformity rate was 32% (unless your surname is Eysenck or Flanagan, in which case it’s 37%). This means that participants conformed on 32% of all trials. However, within this there were substantial individual differences: Nobody conformed on 100% of trials
13 out of the original 50 never conformed at all
Highest rate of conformity was a participant who conformed on 11 out of 12 trials (must have felt a right plonker when he was debriefed!). 75% conformed at least once.
The procedure is very artificial (it lacks ecological validity) in that participants are being asked to conform when there is clearly a different and obviously correct answer. In everyday life disagreements occur over politics, religion, tastes etc., when correct answers are not obvious,...
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