Outline and evaluate research on majority influence There are two major studies in which we can look, at these are Asch and Zimbardo. Asked our student volunteers to take part in the vision test, all but one of the volunteers were colleagues of the experimenter. the volunteers were shown 3 lines the free lines were all different sizes and there was a fourth line which was the same size as one of the 3 lines. All the volunteers had to do was to say Which line was the same size as the separate fourth line.
Altogether there were 123 American undergraduates being tested. Asch showed a series of lines to participants seated around a table, participants always answered in the same order. The colleagues were instructed to give the same incorrect answer on 12 of the 18 trials. On 12 critical trials 36. 8% of the participants got the answer incorrect in other words they conformed with the majority. A quarter of the participants did not conform on any of the trials. Although people did conform the size of the group depended on how many people conform e. g. f there was a large group and they all said the wrong answers the participant will become suspicious and not conform. Also the participants profession could make a difference on whether they conform e. g. a maths teacher will realise that the size of the line is the same as they work with this sort of thing every day. When the difference between the sizes of the lines decreased, making it harder to distinguish the difference between the lines, the level of conformity increased. this study was only conducted on American men during a period of time when people were scared to be different. nother weakness is that only one third of participants conformed the other participants stuck and gave the right answer or the answer they thought was right The next study is Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment. To conduct this experiment a mock correctional facility was constructed in the basement of Stanford University, an advert was placed in local newspapers offering $15 a day to take part in the experiment 75 people responded only 24 male subjects were judged to be the most mentally and emotionally stable and evenly split into two groups of 12 prisoners and 12 guards.
The guards were outfitted in military style uniforms and mirrored shades so eye contact would be prevented and were equipped with wooden batons to make them as intimidating as possible. The prisoners were arrested at their houses in front of their neighbours and their family in a real police car to make it as really as possible, they were dressed in cheap smocks and they were given numbers to be identified by, and they had to remember these numbers.
Zimbardo acted as the warden of the prison and the only rule that was given was the guards were not allowed to give out any physical punishment, other than that the guards can run the prison as they wanted. The guards took on their role very seriously they became harsh and were regularly dishing out unnecessary punishments, toilets were no longer human rights they were a privilege smoking was also a privilege, basic human rights were being ignored the prisoners started to revolt and take on their role as prisoners, and even started to feel that they had done something wrong.
After six days an outsider had to stop the experiment realising that it was very unethical, even Zimbardo himself got dragged into the roles of the prison and started to ignore some of the behaviour that was going on that was considered unethical. This research tells us that although we may think we will never be able to act like this we all have the ability to act like this given the necessary conditions. One major criticism of this piece of research is that it is highly unethical, not only did this piece of research cause physical harm to the participants it also caused the participants mental harm.
A piece of research like this would never be allowed to be carried out today because of ethics there will be no way that anybody would allow anything like this to go on as it caused serious problems including depression. This piece of research may not be seen as valid as it was a field experiment rather than a scientific experiment, so they are only observational results and no scientific evaluation. In addition it’ll be very difficult for anybody to replicate the experiment conditions today. By tom Ayles