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Conformity - Jenness (1932)

AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Jenness (1932) conducted one of the earliest experiments examining conformity.

He used an ambiguous situation that involved a glass bottle filled with 811 white beans. His sample consisted of 101 psychology students, who individually estimated how many beans the glass bottle contained. Participants were then divide into groups of three and asked to provide a group estimate through discussion. Following the discussion, the participants were provided with another opportunity individually estimate the number of beans, to see if they changed their original answer.

Jenness found that nearly all participants changed their original answer, when they were provided with another opportunity to estimate the number of beans in the glass bottle. On average male participants changed their answer by 256 beans and female participants changed their answers by 382 beans. These results demonstrate the power of conformity in an ambiguous situation and are likely to be the result of informational social influence. The participants in this experiment changed their answers because they believed the group estimate was more likely to be right, than their own individual estimate.

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