Social Norm #3. By: Sara Nur and Samantha Bender. Evaluate research on conformity to group norms. . Evaluate. Make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations. Research.
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By: Sara Nur
Make an appraisal by weighing up the strengths and limitations.
Studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws
The collecting of information about a particular subject
Correspondence in form, manner, or character : agreement <behaved in conformity with her beliefs>
An act or instance of conforming
Action in accordance with some specified standard or authority <conformity to social custom>
Conformity can be defined as changing behavior as a result of group pressures even though no direct request has been made to comply with the group.
Associated with social norm
Implicit rules specifying what behaviors are acceptable within a society or group
The Milgram Experiment raised questions about the research ethics of scientific experimentation because of the extreme emotional stress and inflicted insight suffered by the participants. In Milgram's defense, 84 percent of former participants surveyed later said they were "glad" or "very glad" to have participated, 15 percent chose neutral responses (92% of all former participants responding).Many later wrote expressing thanks. Milgram repeatedly received offers of assistance and requests to join his staff from former participants
This experiment may have raised questions on ethics but it also helped the people who took part empathize with people who blindly follow orders. The ethics of the experiment may have been limitations but the experiment’s ability to help people empathize was a major success.
All participants were male students who all belonged to the same age group (biased sample). The task (judging line lengths) was artificial (low in ecological validity) as it is unlikely to happen in everyday life. Therefore, it is not similar to a real life situation demonstrating conformity.
Finally, there are ethical issues: participants were not protected from psychological stress which may occur if they disagreed with the majority. Asch deceived the student volunteers claiming they were taking part in a 'vision' test; the real purpose was to see how the 'naive' participant would react to the behavior of the confederates.
The Asch (1951) study has also been called a child of its time (as conformity was the social norm in 1950’s America). The era of individualism, ‘doing your own thing’, did not take hold until the 1960s.
Perrin and Spencer (1980) carried out an exact replication of the original Asch experiment using engineering, mathematics and chemistry students as participants. The results were clear cut: on only one out of 396 trials did a participant conform with the incorrect majority. This shows the Asch experiment has poor reliability.
The ethics of the Stanford Prison Experiment have long been called into question, and, certainly, without stricter controls this experiment would not be sanctioned today; it could pose a genuine risk to people disposed towards mental and emotional imbalances.
Other criticisms include the validity of the results. It was a field experiment, rather than a scientific experiment, so there are only observational results and no scientific evaluation.
They also have rigid protocols to which they are supposed to stick. In addition, the study studied only male subjects and most western prisons do have a mix of sexes on the guard staff.
Not many successes in the experiment as the person conducting the study himself was too enveloped in the experiment
Informational influence : Behavior of others might convince us that our original judgment was incorrect. The group's behavior provides valuable info about what is expected.
Wish to avoid punishment (such as rejection or ridicule) or gain rewards. We are concerned about our social image and outcomes.
Groups create barriers to independent behavior.
Risk of disapproval from other group members: By deviating too far, individuals risk rejection.
Lack of perceived alternatives. A member may not realize he has any other choice but conformity. (In Milgram experiments, subjects were told they had no other choice.)
Fear of disrupting the group's operations. People fear independence will hamper the attainment of group goals.
Absence of communication among group members. Lacking information that others might join in the nonconforming action, they avoid going out on a limb.
No feeling of responsibility for group outcomes. Members who conform may cause a group to fail to meet its objectives. They hesitate to take the initiative to turn the situation around, especially if they do not feel personally responsible for the group's success or failure.
A sense of powerlessness. If a person feels that he cannot change the situation, he is unlikely to try anything new. The apathy becomes self-fulfilling. No one tries anything different, and consequently, nothing improves.