social influence research and ethical considerations

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Conformity is well understood from the findings of the experiments by Asch and Sherif who subjected groups environments with social pressure and environments without social pressure and noted the difference in results. Milgram on the other hand proposed the agentic theory to investigate obedience to authority while Zimbardo’s prison evaluation experiment demonstrated normative influence to investigate compliance. Today, the results of these experiments have had a significant influence on the understanding of social influence (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).

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However, the experiments are also linked to ethical standard violations by the investigators for lack of informed consent from participants and the investigators’ ill intentions like Milgram. This paper evaluates the social influence research and ethical considerations. The aim is to understand studies and theories of social influence and the ethical issues that arise from the study of social behavior by psychologists.Conformity involves changing one’s behavior in order to fit into the surrounding social norms or fit into the perceived group pressure therefore freely involving in what others are doing (Gilovich, Keltner, & Nisbett, 2006).

Muzafer Sherif’s experiment on the autokinetic effect investigates conformity based on the formation and perpetuation of group norms. In this experiment, a tiny single point of light in a dark room seemed to move since participants lacked a point reference and their eyes could not stabilize. When experimented with individually, the estimates closely represented the estimate given in the group (Wren, 2013). From the study, conformity involves attributes of mindlessness and automation especially when group norms influence the perception of individuals making them behave much likely in the group way.

Additionally, Gilovich, Keltner, & Nisbett (2006) highlight that based on Sherif (1936) experiment, participation by lone&nbsp.subjects revealed varied estimates that averaged close to the group norm within the same environment. &nbsp.The interpretation of these results is that humans have a higher conformity tendency in ambiguous situations.

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