Case Study On Festinger L Carlsmith J 1959 Cognitive Consequences Of Forced Compliance Journal

Published: 2021-07-13 12:30:06
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Category: Sociology, Community, People, Behavior, Experiment, Stress, Influence, Pressure

Type of paper: Essay

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The Asch Experiment about social conformity tries to test the degree to which perfectly normal individuals can be pressured into unusual behavior by a group of individuals or the authority. A group of about eight individuals participates in the group. Only one of them is subject, and the rest are actors instructed to give preselected answers. The real participant seats second from last. The sitting arrangement is carefully planned to ensure that the influence of the group on the participant is effective. Each participant answers each question in turn. All the other participants have agreed to give correct answers on some questions to avoid the subject’s suspicion and wrong answers on specific questions (Perrin & Spencer, 1980).
According to Perrin and Spencer (1980), the results of the experiment showed that 25% of the participants were not influenced by hearing wrong answers. 75% of the participants were influenced by the group and gave wrong answers at least once. The experiment further showed that 30% of the subjects gave incorrect answers in at least 50% of trials in which the group gave incorrect answers. In the control experiment each of the participants gave the correct answer, the subjects gave only one wrong response in 35 responses. This could be taken as the experimental error.
Social influences make individuals behave in a manner that may cause them discomfort and question their own beliefs later. The experiment showed that peer pressure could have a sizeable effect on the given answers. When under the influence of peers, people tend to conform to the group. This is evidenced by the fact that above a third of the individuals voiced an incorrect opinion when under peer pressure. Compliance to a group of individuals made people suppress their own opinions and go with those of the group. This shows that people will adjust to the group set up. This goes on even when they can clearly see that the group is wrong (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959).
When the group’s unanimity is punctured, its effectiveness in influencing the decision of the individual is significantly reduced. This was brought out by the experiment carried out by having one person giving the correct answer contrary to that of the entire group. This reduced the influence on the subject greatly because the subject could resist the peer pressure. This shows that resisting peer pressure is harder for individuals when totally isolated because they risk being seen as misfits.
Perrin and Spencer (1980) further argue that it is clear from the experiments that people readily conform to group pressure. They do so for various reasons. When subjects got interviewed after doing the experiment, majority of them said they had conformed to the group for fear of being seen as “peculiar”. Few of them said they genuinely believed the answers given by the group were correct. This brings out the two main reasons why people conform to a group. One of the reasons is that people believe that the group has alot of info than them and is more likely to make better decisions. This is the informational influence. The second reason is that people feel want acceptance hence they want to fit in the group. This is the normative influence.
In the real world experiences, individuals considerably yield to group or peer pressure. Individuals get v influenced by the need to earn acceptance and social respect. People compromise their moral values due to normative or informational influence. Almost everybody blames peer pressure for indulging in risky behavior. Individuals do things they could not do it without the influence of the group for perfectly rational reasons. Most individuals blame their habits such as drug use on peer pressure. People give in to peer pressure because they want to “tag along”. Any group will tend to reject deviants (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959).
Abnormal and Social Psychology , 203-211.
Perrin, S., & Spencer, C. (1980). The Asch effect: a child of its time? Bulletin of the British
Psychological Society , 405-406.

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