” Impression formation is the process by which we form an overall impression of someone’s character and abilities based on available information about their traits and behaviors). For example, consider how often you make this kind of judgments every day. When you meet with a new co-worker, you immediately begin to develop an initial impression of this person. When you visit the grocery store after work, you might draw conclusions about the cashier who checks you out, even though you know very little about this person”(Cherry, 2017).
The work of Asch, that inspired the impression formation, implies that a person form impressions of another person . Asch ask participants to read a lists of words and then he ask them to form impressions of that one person. (Research gate,2014). For example, the participants read from the list of words that consisted of “intelligent, skilful, industrious, warm, determined, practical, and cautious (Research gate,2014).” Once the participants had read from that list , the participants then chose other words that could also describe the person .(Research gate,2014). Asch was able to discover some important principles of impression formation when using this simple techniqe (Research gate,2014). It was found that the substitution of a word could dramatically shift a person view and impressions of the person. This approach is known as the configural model (Research gate,2014).
Asch’s Paradigm is too simplistic, impression formation is far more complicated than this theory suggests. Impression formation should be considered as more of a fluid process as the characteristics that we find acceptable change over time along with our perception. This study came under criticism as the subjects of the study had to choose words given from a list instead of being able to use their own words, critics in turn claimed that this was an artificial study. However, understanding this theory would allow people a constructive method of deciding which people they allow in their lives. Although, it has been criticised as the participants of the study had to choose from words that were given to them, instead of being able to use their own words, as well as, ignoring a persons gut instinct and focuses only on the cognitive processing. Although, it also gives people the basic understanding of how we form impressions of people.
According to Anderson’s model, we form impressions in two stages.
The first stage, we assign numeric values to each trait that we encounter in a person (Social Psychology, 2013). These points can be negative or can be positive. When we meet a person which appears to be attractive, intelligent and arrogant, in a person mind they will assign certain points of another person traits: for example, this would be +5 for attractiveness, +9 for intelligence and -8 for arrogance (Social Psychology, 2013). Then the second stage, that decide on the person’s overall likability based on their combined ‘score’. For example this person score would be equal to 5 + 9 – 8 = 6. Although, some traits might be given more weight than others; therefore, that person would base the final impression not on the sum of that person traits’ points, but would base it on their weighted average ( Social Psychology, 2013).
Anderson theory could be considered too simplisticas too compare the complex human behavior that involves personality and emotion to a mathematical equation that results in ignoring these key factors. Anderson’s alternative to Asch could be considered a complicated method of impression formation as people don’t tend to form impression in a numerical. But even with the notable criticismus, Andersons alternative model does allow us a basic understanding of how we may process information when forming impressions (class notes,2018).
”Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. This change is in response to real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social norms / expectations) group pressure. Conformity can also be simply defined as “yielding to group pressures” Group pressure may take different forms, for example bullying, persuasion, teasing, criticism, etc. Conformity is also known as majority influence (or group pressure)” ( McLeod, 20016)
Solomon Asch (1951) conducted an experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform. Asch used a lab experiment to study conformity, whereby 50 male students from Swarthmore College in the USA participated in a ‘vision test.’ Using a line judgment task, Asch put a naive participant in a room with seven confederates ( McLeod, 2007)The confederates had agreed in advance what their responses would be when presented with the line task ( McLeod, 2007)The real participant did not know this and was led to believe that the other seven participants were also real participants like themselves. Each person in the room had to state aloud which comparison line (A, B or C) was most like the target line ( McLeod, 2007) The answer was always obvious. The real participant sat at the end of the row and gave his or her answer last ( McLeod, 2007) Asch measured the number of times each participant conformed to the majority view. On average, about one third (32%) of the participants who were placed in this situation went along and conformed with the clearly incorrect majority on the critical trials ( McLeod, 2007)Over the 12 critical trials, about 75% of participants conformed at least once, and 25% of participant never conformed ( McLeod, 2007)In the control group, with no pressure to conform to confederates, less than 1% of participants gave the wrong answer ( McLeod, 2007 )Asch study did demonstrate conformity in an unambiguous situation, he showed normative social influence ,for example the participants chose to fit in with the group even though they know the answer was wrong ( FrenchDoc , 2008) . Asch’s study also demonstrates historical bias as it was carried out in the 1950s a very different and move conformist time then the present day (FrenchDoc, 2008). It is also culture bias as it was carried out in America therefore as can’t be generalised to other cultures. But Asch’s findings could be criticised as it could be said that the task given didn’t challenge his participants after all, who care about how long a line is (FrenchDoc, 2008) As a result, his findings could be due to demand characteristics, where the participants know they are involved in an experiment. Another problem is that the experiment used an artificial task to measure conformity – judging line lengths. How often are we faced with making a judgment like the one Asch used, where the answer is plain to see? This means that study has low ecological validity and the results cannot be generalized to other real-life situations of conformity. Asch replied that he wanted to investigate a situation where the participants could be in no doubt what the correct answer was (FrenchDoc, 2008)
Sherif (1935) conducted an experiment with the aim of demonstrating that people conform to group norms when they are put in an ambiguous (i.e. unclear) situation ( McLeod,2007). Sherif used a lab experiment to study conformity ( McLeod,2007). He used the autokinetic effect – this is where a small spot of light (projected onto a screen) in a dark room will appear to move, even though it is still (i.e. it is a visual illusion).It was discovered that when participants were individually tested their estimates on how far the light moved varied considerably ( McLeod,2007).The participants were then tested in groups of three ( McLeod,2007). Sherif manipulated the composition of the group by putting together two people whose estimate of the light movement when alone was very similar, and one person whose estimate was very different ( McLeod,2007). Each person in the group had to say aloud how far they thought the light had moved (FrenchDoc, 2008). Sherif found that over numerous estimates (trials) of the movement of light, the group converged to a common estimate. The person whose estimate of movement was greatly different to the other two in the group conformed to the view of the other two ( McLeod,2007).Sherif said that this showed that people would always tend to conform ( McLeod,2007).Rather than make individual judgments they tend to come to a group agreement. The results show that when in an ambiguous situation (such as the autokinetic effect), a person will look to others (who know more / better) for guidance (i.e. adopt the group norm). They want to do the right thing but may lack the appropriate information ( McLeod,2007). This is known as informational conformity (FrenchDoc, 2008) Not everyone conforms to social pressure ( McLeod,2007). Indeed, there are many factors that contribute to an individual’s desire to remain independent of the group. For example, Smith and Bond (1998) discovered cultural differences in conformity between western and eastern countries ( McLeod,2007). People from Western cultures (such as America and the UK) are more likely to be individualistic and don’t want to be seen as being the same as everyone else( McLeod,2007). Sherifs was unethical as he was deceived his participants he stationary pinpoint of light was moving. Sherif can be criticised because this task was not challenging, surely conformity, should challenge a person’s belief system for them to care about it (FrenchDoc, 2008). After all, who cares how far a light is moving. Sherif’s study can also be criticised for historical bias as it was carried out in 1936-perhaps people were more conformist back them (FrenchDoc, 2008)
”The standard definition of obedience in psychology is as a form of social influence elicited in response to a direct order or command (McLeod , 2007).However, there are reasons for suggesting that this definition is too narrow in that it specifies that a particular social act – the order or command – is necessary for obedience to occur” (McLeod , 2007).
Milgram’s electric shock experiments (1963)Stanley Milgram was from a Jewish background he was interested in how easily ordinary people could be influenced into committing atrocities for example, Germans in WWII (McLeod , 2007).He decided to test ordinary Americans (over 1000 of them) from all types of backgrounds (Studies , 2005). They were told that the research was into the effects of punishment on learning. Volunteers were told to administer electric shocks of increasing voltage, up to 450V, to a ‘learner’ (actor) each time the learner made an error (McLeod , 2007).An ‘experimenter’ was overseeing the operation and dressed in a white lab coat (Studies , 2005).When the ‘learner’ started to make errors and the ‘teacher’ began to worry, the ‘experimenter’ reminded them of the need to continue (Studies, 2005). Milgram asked 40 psychiatrists to predict the results, they said that less than 1% would go all the way and that those who did would be psychopathic sadists (Studies, 2005). The psychiatrists were very wrong. Obedience rates were way higher. Two thirds of volunteers went up to 450V. (McLeod , 2007).No one stopped before 275V! These results surprised everyone, including Milgram (Studies, 2005). No one expected to find so many people prepared to give 450V shocks to a stranger! Milgram did more than one experiment – he carried out 18 variations of his study (Studies, 2005). All he did was alter the situation, not the type of volunteers. Milgram’s work shows us how difficult it is to resist pressures from ‘authority’. The real ‘heroes’ of the experiment were those who had the courage to disobey! Milgram was fiercely criticised. His results upset people – this may have been because they felt uncomfortable with what it showed about ordinary Americans (Studies, 2005). Maybe if they had not been so shocking (excuse the pun!) people would not have given Milgram’s work a second thought, perhaps the unpalatable findings made people seek to discredit the procedures. Milgram’s work on obedience was attacked on ethical grounds, saying he deceived people and caused unreasonable distress (Studies, 2005). Volunteers often showed extreme stress – sweating, trembling, stammering, even having uncontrollable fits. On practical grounds, people argued that demand characteristics created the high rates of obedience. It was a highly artificial setting and in a prestigious location, but even when Milgram moved the experiment to a downtown location, obedience rates were still alarmingly high (McLeod , 2007).
However, Zimbardo defended Milgram and has said his work is “the most generalizable in all of social science… dozens of systematic replications with a 1000 subject from as diverse backgrounds as possible (Studies, 2005). “Hofling et al, testing nurses’ obedience in a natural setting (1966)To create a more realistic study of obedience than Milgram’s by carrying out field studies on nurses who were unaware that they were involved in an experiment (Studies, 2005). Nurses in a hospital were given orders from a ‘doctor’ over the telephone to administer a dose of medication above the maximum allowed (McLeod , 2007).The nurses were watched to see what they would do (McLeod , 2007). The medication was not real, though the nurses thought it was.21 out of 22 nurses were easily influenced into carrying out the orders (McLeod , 2007). They were not supposed to take instructions by phone, let alone exceed the allowed dose (Studies, 2005). When other nurses were asked to discuss what they would do in a similar situation, 21 out of 22 said they would not comply with the order. Hofling demonstrated that people are very unwilling to question supposed ‘authority’, even when they might have good reason to (Studies, 2005). Like Milgram, Hofling was criticised on ethical grounds. This was because the nurses were not aware that they were in a psychological study and could have felt threatened by the results and their implications. On practical grounds, as a field study, this research was hard to replicate (Studies, 2005). Other studies which have tried to have not obtained similar results. This means that this study only applies to this hospital (McLeod , 2007). The results cannot be appl