Conformity is defined as a change in behaviour and/or attitude as a result of group pressure (Hogg & Vaughan, n.d.). In 1971 Phillip G Zimbardo carried out an experiment with the aim of determining the psychological changes of both prisoners and guards. He did this by placing 18 college undergraduates in a simulated prison environment (Prisonexp.org, 2014). The time course for the experiment was 14 days; however, it was ended precipitately after only 6 days as the guards were seen to abuse the prisoners at night. Christina Maslach also questioned the morality of the study after witnessing the participants chained together with bags over their heads. This forced Zimbardo to re-evaluate the situation as a research psychologist as he himself had conformed to the role of the prisons superintendent (Prisonexp.org, 2014).
It was clear throughout the study that all participants had conformed to the role they were given. Prisoners started to believe that they were in a real prison, which ultimately lead to the participants becoming depressed and some of the guards had developed sadistic like qualities due to the amount of power they had over the prisoners (Prisonexp.org, 2014).
Deindividuation is said to of played an important role in terms of conformity. The social process of placing individuals into a group situation and giving them uniforms determines their behaviour. They lose a sense of identity and proceed to act in a way that the group deems acceptable. (Hewstone & Stroebe e...
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... figure due to the fact that as a child you are taught to respect and obey anyone in a sense of authority an example of this would be your parent as a child and the police as you age.
Hewstone, M., Stroebe, W. & Jonas, K. (2012). An introduction to social psychology. Chichester, West Sussex: BPS Blackwell.
Hogg, M. A. & Vaughan, G. M. (n.d.). Social psychology.
Prisonexp.org. (2014). The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.prisonexp.org/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].
Bbcprisonstudy.org. (2014). Welcome to the official site for the BBC Prison Study. Home - The BBC Prison Study. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.bbcprisonstudy.org/index.php [Accessed: 10 Apr 2014].
Stainton Rogers, W. (2011). Social psychology. Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: Mcgraw Hill Open University Press.
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