Psychology Conformity & Obedience

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's October 2001

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Introduction Conformity A substantial amount of psychological research has focused on the way that we generally tend to go along with people, rather than openly disagreeing with them. Some of this research is concerned with how we "˜Conform'-we fit our behaviour to that of others who are in the same situation. Other research has considered the way that we "˜Obey' people who are in charge, or at what is involved when "˜Disobey' them. According to the Pocket Oxford Dictionary conformity means "˜agreement suitability which means changing your behaviour and ideas so that are the same as the group of people you are with. The first person to study conformity was Jenness, in 1932. He had people estimating the number of beans in a bottle-first one at a time, then in a group. After the group had agreed on an estimate, he then got the individuals to make a second estimate-and found that this time they were to the group estimate.

Perhaps one of the most famous studies of conformity to others was the one performed by Asch in 1951. He set up an experiment in which subjects were told that they were participating in a perception study. They were asked to judge the correct length of a given line, by identifying which of three sample lines was identical to it. Asch arranged that the subjects would be tested as members of a group, all of whom would report their judgements openly. Unknown to the subjects, however, the rest of the group considered of "˜stooges', who, from time to time, deliberately gave prearranged but obviously wrong answers Subjects clearly found it uncomfortable when they were in a position of disagreeing with the majority, and many of them at one time or another during the study gave answers which conformed with the...

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