AP Psychology : Influential Experiments and Methods

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #41 : Influential Experiments And Methods

In the 1950s, Solomon Asch conducted experiments in which he asked groups of participants to look at pictures of lines of various lengths and publicly state which line was the longest. Which of the following phenomena was Asch attempting to study in these experiments?

Possible Answers:

Line perception

Bystander effect

Prejudice

Phi phenomenon

Conformity

Correct answer:

Conformity

Explanation:

In Asch's experiments, most of the participants were actually confederates (i.e. actors), and were instructed to give the wrong answer to many of the easy line questions; therefore, Asch was looking to see if the "real" participants would conform to the majority opinion even if they knew that the answer was incorrect.

Example Question #42 : Research And Testing

In Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment on obedience, he asked participants to administer electric shocks to another person in order to help the person learn a list of words. They could hear but not see the other person; furthermore, the “learner” was an actor and no electric shocks were ever administered to them. Which of the following best describes Milgram’s primary finding?

Possible Answers:

Removing a source of physical pain (the shock) in response to a correct answer is an effective method of negative reinforcement.

Confederate approaches are often not convincing enough to use in formal research.

When it comes to inflicting physical harm on another human being, people demonstrate strong altruistic tendencies.

People obeying instructions from an established authority figure may feel they are simply an instrument of this authority figure and therefore feel much less responsibility for their actions.

Correct answer:

People obeying instructions from an established authority figure may feel they are simply an instrument of this authority figure and therefore feel much less responsibility for their actions.

Explanation:

In this study, participants continued to administer what they thought were high-voltage shocks up until and even past the point on the dial marked “fatal,” presumably because the experimenter told them to keep going. This appears to suggest that people are much more blindly obedient to authority than they think they are, and people may carry out horrible acts they normally never would simply because they were told to by an authority figure. While removing a shock in response to a correct answer would be negative reinforcement, it is important to remember that no one was actually ever shocked in this experiment. This is because the “learner” was actually a confederate—a researcher acting as if he or she is another participant in order to add an element of deception to the experimental design.

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