Conformity Jeness Research Report

Topics: Experiment, Estimator, Arithmetic mean Pages: 7 (1811 words) Published: December 4, 2013
RESEARCH INVESTIGATION

Abstract
This investigation was set in order to study the rates of conformity when a group norm was presented to the subject and, more specifically to distinguish if the participant’s opinions would change when they were exposed to a majorities’ judgement. The experiment took place as a field experiment in which participants (20 college students) were selected from their own environment. The end results obtained from the experiment showed that conformity existed as the mean for those who were presented with the factitious sheet estimations were drastically higher (142.2) than that of those who received the blank sheet (mean of 86.6).

INTRODUCTION
Conformity is defined as a change in a person’s behaviour/opinions as a result of a real or imagined pressure from a person or group. Kelman distinguished three stages of conformity: compliance, identification and internalisation. When a person complies they are known to agree with the majority opinion publically, however, they do not truly have the same opinion therefore privately they do not adhere to these opinions. When a person identifies with the views of the majority and adopts publically and privately as they value membership yet when they leave the group they return to previous beliefs they had before joining the group. Internalisation is classified as full acceptance of the majorities’ ideas by the individual as they welcome the group’s values into their belief system. Background

Previous experiments include Sherif’s 1935 Autokinetic study where he put subjects in a room and flashed a light that dissipated, then another light appeared and also dissipated. He asked participants how far the light had moved, however, it had not moved, but the subjects had been asked ‘how far?’ so they assumed it had, and estimated a distance. The same study was conducted with the whole group in the room and he asked each individual the distance they thought the light had moved. He discovered no matter the answer the first person gave, the rest of the group’s guesses were very close, creating what is known as a ‘group norm’. Later in 1955 Asch studied a group of six participants by projecting a straight line on a screen, then an image of three lines differing in length and told subjects that one was exactly the same size as the original line. Asch then asked participants which line was closest to the original. Only one in the group of six was a real participant, the other five being actors. The real subject was second to last to be asked, after the four previous gave incorrect answers. The participant would generally follow the answer the others gave even if clearly wrong. Asch found that 74% conformed at least once, producing a level of 32% conformity. It is thought Asch's participants gave wrong answers due to Normative Social Influence: they didn't want stand out from the group. When an answer is not clear, rates of conformity change, take Jenness’ 1932 study, the first study on conformity. This experiment involved a container filled with beans. He asked individuals to estimate the number of beans in the container. He put the group in a room with the container, and asked for a group estimate. Jeness then interviewed individuals again, and asked if they would like to change their original estimates, or stay with the group's estimate. Almost all changed their individual guesses to be closer to the group estimate. The high rates of conformity are due to Informative Social Influence; when one goes along with others as they do not know the right answer. Aim

This investigation was set in order to study the rates of conformity when a group norm was presented to the subject and, more specifically to distinguish if the participant’s opinions would change when they were exposed to a majorities’ judgement. Rationale

It is important that this experiment is repeated in different cultures and time...
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