Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Testing the Power of Persuasion

Sierra (left) and Wilmaniece
Sierra and Wilmaneice, both seniors at the MCH School, are taking a dual credit course in Sociology at McLennan Community College. They developed a research project for their class on how behavior affects other people.

Michelle Arocha, MCH School vice principal, said the girls developed and carried out the study on their own.

“Sierra and Wilmaneice are doing a research project on the power of persuasion and peer pressure,” Arocha said. “They selected the students for the study, created a spreadsheet to document their information, created the materials for their study and are in charge of calling students to the class. We are providing supervision for students getting to and from the room in which the study is taking place, but the girls have organized and done everything else on their own.”

During the experimental part of the research project, the girls called 14 students individually into a classroom with the control group of students to ask them a series of questions. The control group consisted of three students, with a total group of four students during each session. The control group was instructed to give the same, intentionally incorrect answer during each session. The fourth student was asked the same questions and his or her responses were recorded.

“We are testing to see if the students in the experimental group will submit to the others’ answers or stay true to their answer,” Wilmaneice said.

After the series of questions, the researchers told the students in the experimental group the purpose of the study and asked them why they chose the answers they did. Some of the responses were as follows.

“I didn’t want to be different,” said one student who gave the same answers as the control group.

“Because it was the right answer,” said another student who answered correctly, regardless of the control group’s answers.

Sierra and Wilmaneice said they chose the control group based on who they thought would be the most cooperative, is the most well-known, and who other students may be inclined to follow. The results were varied and the project overall was a success.

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