Social Psychological Knowledge Essay

849 words - 3 pages

One of the most significant studies in the History of research into social psychology and conformity is that of Asch. His ‘lines’ experiment proved how a group of people ’the majority’ can influence the ‘minority’. Despite this, Asch’s methodology and validity of his experiments have been questioned. Larsen, Spencer and Perrin argue that Asch’s research is historically limited to the 1950’s a time when America was under the grip of McCarthyism and being different was feared, therefore, it can be justified that Asch’s study results were due to the year his experiment was conducted, therefore, his findings may not apply to modern day society. Asch’s research also lacks ecological validity, the fact he conducted his experiments within a laboratory setting means his results are not representative of the population and therefore, cannot be generalised, also, it is not often people are faced with making a judgment like the lines test he used where answers were plain to see. Asch’s experiment was also Ethnocentric, Androcentric and an unrepresentative sample as he only used American white male participants. In reviewing many other countries Smith and Bond found that cultural differences can actually impact on research results. They found that collective cultures such as Asia have a higher level of conformity than that of individualist cultures such as Britain. Proving how cultural influences can impact on the reliability and the validity of the studies that were conducted.

Moscovici (coloured tiles) on the other-hand argued that Asch ignored minority influence during his investigations. Moscovici found that a minority can have an influence over the majority if they are consistent in their approach. However, many researchers have argued that consistency is not enough. Nemeth suggested that compromise and flexibility is key when trying to persuade the majority and that discussion and debating issues is more likely to influence the majority. Moscovici’s methodology was also criticised because, he only used female student participants (unrepresentative) it is also considered that females are more conformist than males (i.e. gender difference). Also the dissimilarity between majority and minority in real life is much more complex, since minorities on average have less power and status than majorities this may add to the reason why minorities hardly ever succeed in the real world. His experiment also lacks realism, as people are not usually asked to identify different shades of blue slides in everyday life. Another criticism is that a group of four people cannot be considered as a majority.

Milgram’s shocker experiment to study obedience underwent huge amounts of...

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