How Groups Can Influence People in a Positive and Negative Way

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Muzafer Sherif, Culture of Japan Pages: 3 (971 words) Published: June 8, 2011
How groups can influence people in a positive and negative way.

In this essay I am going to describe how groups can influence people in a positive and negative ways. I will provide a breakdown on what was positive and negative in each example of evidence given. I will also show how people usually conform to behave in a similar way to other members of a group.

In my first example is from the Zimbardo experiment, Haney et al, 1973. In this experiment two groups of men were given roles to play. One group took on the role of guards and the other took on the role of the prisoner. Even though the experiment was to last two weeks it was stopped after six days due to the guards becoming increasingly abusive and brutal. The prisoners also became passive and also showed signs of being emotionally disturbed. These were otherwise ‘normal’ people. It seems they played the role as they thought a prisoner and guard should act.

To play the roles the way they did could have been due to what was already in their ‘Schema’ which could have come from watching films and television programmes. It was also found that there is evidence that people can conform to group pressure. In Solomon Asch (1955) experiment on how people perceived things and a group were shown a picture with different length of lines. They were asked to pick out the one that matched the original line. In the experiment all the group except one was in league with the experimenter and as the experiment went on they would give the wrong answer to see if the participant would conform to the group’s answers. We all at some point in our lives have conformed to group pressure and went along with a decision that we did not agree with. The need to feel accepted by the group may influence some people.

In my next example from Muzafer Sherif et al. (1961) called Robbers Cave, involves two groups of boys in which a tournament is set up between the two. What came out of the experiment was the competitive nature of the...
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