The Milgram Experiment
It is important to note that the Milgram experiment was initially designed in order to delve deeper into the conflict which mutually exists between personal conscience and obedience to authority (Cherry, 2016; n.p.). This is arguably among some of the most illustrious experiments which pertain to compliance in psychology which were coined up by one Stanley Milgram who was a psychologist at the University of Yale. Primarily, Milgram scrutinized various rationalizations for the executions of genocide which were offered by the perpetrators of W.W II Nuremberg war criminal trials. There major justification was repeatedly based on duty in that the offenders were simply carrying out orders given down from their immediate superiors. The procedure for this experiment was that one participant was paired with another, drawing a lot of information to find out who would be the learner, and who would be the tutor (McLeod, 2007; n.p.). The draw was fixed in such a way that the partaker was constantly the educator and the student would be one of Milgram’s associates. Even though this experiment was considered among the most debatable in the history of social psychology, they suggested that about 65% of individuals were inclined to impose pain on others if and directed to by an authority figure. Moreover, it was observed that normal individuals are more likely to adhere to orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of taking the life of an innocent human being. This means that people obey orders from others if they acknowledge their authority as lawfully based and/or morally right.
It is interesting to learn the extent to which one would be able of exacting real pain, mental, emotional, and/or physical, on another person. For instance, on the scale of 1 – 10, 1 being the least extent and 10 being the extreme, I believe that I would land on an 8. I would be capable of inflicting as much pain to another person as possible, but this depends on the level of authority dictating that I obey. This means that if it were my boss giving out the order, and my job depended on it, I would not hesitate to inflict real pain. However, if it were a person who does not have any direct authority over me, I would consider and be less inclined to obey the order. Similar to Milgram’s experiment, the location would have an influence on my ability to inflict real pain on another individual. For instance, I would not be motivated to inflict real pain on another person if I were in a foreign country or region. This is because I would have some degree of empathy towards this particular individual given that I am not in my local setting. I would also resist adhering to the order if the authority figure is not close by.
Solomon Asch and Group Conformity
The Asch experiments of conformity were a succession of psychosomatic testing carried out by one, Solomon Asch during the 1950s (Unknown, 2016; n.p.). The main aim of these experiments was to observe the level to which a person’s own views are influenced by those of groups. The results indicated that people were willing to ignore reality to the extent of offering an erroneous answer so as to match to the rest of the crowd. In addition, people tend to obey for two main reasons viz, due to the verity that they desire to fit in with the faction and because they consider the faction to be well informed than they themselves are.
My own individual assessment making does not constantly echo an objective process. For instance, I may believe that my answer to a particular question is the most appropriate one. However, if more people are present and disagree with my answer, I will be influenced to conform to their answer, regardless of whether or not it is correct. My decision making may also be influenced if the people around me happen to be more learned than I am. This fact alone will discourage me and not motivate me into backing up my answer which is most probably the correct one.
The longing to be acknowledged as a part of a faction usually leaves one predisposed to conforming to the faction’s customs. This is because conformity usually increases when more individuals are in attendance. However, there is a modest alteration once the crowd size goes past five or four individuals. For instance when there is a group of a superior social standing, individuals tend to have the notion that the said individuals are more influential, knowledgeable or powerful than themselves and they are more likely conform to the group (Morris & Miller, n.d.; 220). This is usually observed with high school or university students, and members of a minority group. They tend to have a strong desire to be accepted or belong to a particular group and can therefore be more prone to conforming to the group’s norm, regardless of whether it is moral or not. Ordinary people can also find themselves in similar situations for instance in the workplace where a person might desire to be accepted into a particular clique, and is willing to do anything to be accepted. Another illustration is that of gangs where a potential member is inclined to conforming to the faction’s customs which might include committing violence, or even murder (Cherry, 2016; n.p.).
There are a number of situational factors that can allow a faction to apply pressure sturdy enough to alter a person’s mind-set and behavior. Some of these factors can include socioeconomic status, gender, age, ethnicity, among others. As already stated, if one belongs to a group of an inferior socioeconomic status and is in the presence of a group of a higher socioeconomic status, the former will be more inclined to act, talk and behave as though they were of the higher socioeconomic status group in order to conform to it. Similarly, age and ethnicity is also inclined to put forth pressure strong enough to modify one’s mind-set and behavior. For instance, if a younger person happens to be in the presence of older individuals, he/she is more inclined to act older than when they are with their peers (McLeod, 2007; n.p.).
Cherry, K. 2016. The Asch Experiment: Understanding conformity in groups, [online] Available at: < [Accessed 5 August 2016].
McLeod, S.A. 2007. The Milgram Experiment, [online] Available at: < www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html> [Accessed 5 August 2016].
Morris, W., and Miller, R. n.d. the effects of consensus-breaking and consensus-pre-empting partners in conformity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11, p. 215 – 223.
Unknown Author. 2016. “The Asch Experiment: The Power of Peer Pressure.” Boundless Sociology. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 5 August 2016].