Psychology Assignment

An experiment was conducted with 224 participants of which 85 were males and 139 females. The experiment was conducted between undergraduate students from an Australian tertiary institute. The experiment reflected the Asch experiment. For half of the trials participants were subjected to confederates results while the other half they were placed in a situation where they made their own choices. They were presented with the target line and three test lines. The general trend showed that particpants were not influenced significantly by the confederate’s choices and made majorly their own choices. 

IntroductionThe experiment was based on a study conducted by Solomon Asch in which he investigated the extent to which social pressure can effect a groups conformity. He believed that that underlying problem with Sheriff’s (1935) conformity experiment was the absence of a correct answer to the ambiguous autokinectic experiment. He questioned that how can a person be sure that there was conformity when there were no correct answers. There Asch (1951) designed what we today known as the classic experiment in social psychology where we use a line as a judgement task in which one line is the control and right answer. If the participants were to give a wrong answer, it was considered to probably be because of the group pressure. The experiment gathered 50 male students in a college from USA who thought they were participating in a vision test. Using a line as a judgement task, Asch added a naïve participant in the room with seven confederated. The confederates had agreed in advance about what their responses would be when presented with the task. Only the actual participant wasn’t aware and made to believe that the other seven confederates were also real participants. Asch measure the number of times each participant agreed to a majority value. About 32% of the participants conformed at least once and 25% never conformed. In the control group there was no pressure put on the participants by the confederates, therefore the results only had less than 1% wrong answer.
At the end of experiment, each participant was interviewed. Most of them said that, they did not really believe their conforming answers but went along with the group from fear of being made fun of. While a few others actually believed that the confederate groups choices were correct. It was concluded that people conform either because they wish to fit in a group or they believe that the group is more informed than themselves.
There was a gap identified in this experiment though. The sample used for the study was biased as all participants were male students who belonged to the same age group. This means that there was lack of diverse population and the results cannot be generalized for a single gender or other age groups. Furthermore, ethical grounds weren’t laid out which means that participants weren’t protected from psychological stress. There is evidence that suggests participants in Asch experiments can be highly emotionally unstable as reported by Back et al (1963), who presented findings about the participants of the experiment having increased levels of autonomic arousal.

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