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Social Psychology - Essay Example

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Social Psychology “Human beings are intrinsically motivated to conform and to obey authority” Introduction: The field of social psychology entails the study of individuals and the manner in which they are influenced, by others in the social groups. It is often observed that individuals are usually influenced by others and the same has been the focus of study of psychologists in the past couple of decades, especially with regard to the issues related to ‘conformity’ and ‘obedience’…
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Download file to see previous pages Although we as humans, are taught to learn and think for ourselves various factors exist, which tend to influence our independent thinking and coerce us to follow the more socially acceptable norms. This paper discusses the various popular experiments conducted during that era, and deduces, based on the observations, whether human beings are naturally built to submit to authority and comply with the rules laid down for them, or is it a case of exception rather than the norm. Finally, it concludes that human beings do have a tendency to be intrinsically motivated to conform to authority and to obey authority. Conformity refers to the transformation in behaviour or attitudes of people triggered by the need / desire to pursue the beliefs or standards set by others. It entails following the group ideologies, by totally ignoring or disregarding personal opinions. Obedience on the other hand, merely implies obeying the instructions / orders. These two concepts can be studied or explained in a better manner by way of various experiments carried out by researchers such as Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo and the likes (Andersen, Taylor, 2007). According to a study conducted by Asch, (1951): a group of individuals were involved in an experiment to study the issues related to ‘conformity’ and the manner in which individuals behave / react in a given situation. The basic objective of the experiment was to observe the reactions of the participants and substantiate the hypotheses developed by the researchers with regard to ‘conformity’. However, for the purpose of this experiment the participants were mislead into believing that they were being involved in a study on ‘visual perception’ and kept the true purpose of the experiment, a secret. They were seated in a room along with a few stooges (i.e. individuals who were part of the team of the researchers conducting the experiment) who were made to pose as participants. The participants were shown lines on a screen and were asked to point out which one out of the three was of the same length as the target line. However, their responses were manipulated by the three stooges, who deliberately made mistakes by providing wrong answers. The purpose behind such an experiment was to measure the number of times the participants were influenced in their decisions / answers, by the responses of the stooges (Andersen, Taylor, 2007; Weiten, 2008). The method used by Asch seems quite artificial in its approach as it lacks validity. This is because the participants are required to conform when a correct answer actually exists. Disagreements do occur in everyday lives when there are hardly any right or wrong answers hence this approach seems highly illogical and invalid. Furthermore the results derived from the same may not be consistent in the long run, which is evident from the subsequent experiments conducted by British researchers Perrin and Spencer (Cox, 2002). It is also argued that Asch’s experiments were conducted at a time when the nation was exposed to an external environment which generated high levels of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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