Criticisms of Asch's Study (1956)

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The research of Asch’s (1956) experiment on conformity has become one of the most popular theories on the subject. Along with his research came many criticisms on his experiment discussing the validity, ethics and comparisons to other experiments to test conformity. Asch’s original study can be criticised because the confederates would have found it difficult to act convincingly in their role. Mori and Arai (2010) overcame this problem by using polarising filters. These altered what each participant actually saw, therefore not requiring actual confederates. They found levels of conformity similar to those obtained by Asch for women, although not for men. This suggests that Asch’s confederates had acted convincingly in the original study as the results were reproducible using women. A bad point with his study was that the sample was not representative of the target population therefore making it endocentric as all males were used. There has been evidence to suggest that females are more conformist than males, this mean that the findings cannot be applied to women. Also, all the participants were undergraduates and so cleverer than average for the population, this may have affected the results. Another reason that the sample was not representative was that all the participants were American. Smith and Bond (1998), reviewed 31 cross-cultural studies using Asch’s paradigm and found that members of more collectivistic cultures (e.g. African) were more likely conform than members of more individualistic cultures (e.g. American), this means that the findings cannot be universally applied. However, the study was unambiguous, unlike Sherif’s (1935) and therefore it was a true test of conformity as the confederates couldn’t counteract the experiment as they didn’t know exactly what was going on so it was a true representation of conformity and how it could work and because
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