Procedures Used In Social Influence Research And Whether They Are Ethical

2023 words - 8 pages

Procedures Used in Social Influence Research and Whether They are Ethical

Psychologists such as Asch, Zimbardo and Milgrim have used various
procedures in social influence research. These procedures can be
ethically questioned in terms of consent, deception, protection of
participants and the right to withdraw.

Asch 1951, 1982, and 1956 designed a straightforward task in which
participants were presented with two cards. One card displayed a
single ‘standard line’ while the other card displayed three
‘comparison lines’. Participants were asked which comparison line was
of equal length to the standard line. In the experimental situation
there was only true participant the rest were all confederates. The
idea behind this experiment was to find out if people would conform
even when the majority of a group were wrong. Asch found that 32% of
real subjects agreed with the confederates’ wrong answer every time
with 74% agreeing with at least one incorrect answer. Asch also found
that only 26% of real subjects never conformed. So why did so many
people conform? The main reason being social influence. Participants
did not want to be the odd one out so to speak. This is a case of
public compliance rather than private acceptance.

The findings of Asch’s studies are drawn from experiments in
laboratory settings. The tasks involved as well as the surroundings
are not what you would expect to find in everyday life. Due to this
Asch’s studies were criticised for having low ecological validity. If
an experiment has little relationship with the outside world, the
experiment will have low ecological validity. However Asch’s
experiment illustrates that if people conform in this type of setting
surrounded by complete strangers, it shows the power of group
pressure. Therefore because similar situations are bound to take
place outside the experiment, Asch’s study is ecologically valid in
this sense. Asch also used deception in his experiment by using
confederates. These confederates deliberately gave the wrong answer
in order to establish whether a true participant would conform.
However if the true participant was aware that the other members of
his group were confederates then the results would not be correct as
the true participant would be, most probably, answering differently.

Zimbardo in 1973 created an experiment designed to investigate how
readily people would adopt a new role and exercise the power attached
to that role. Zimbardo recruited 25 male students to participate in
a two week study of prison life. They were randomly assigned to the
role of a prisoner or a guard. On arrival the prisoners were stripped
down and given prison smocks with a number attached. From then on
they were referred to by there number only. The guards were given
shirts, trousers, dark...

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