Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

College

College of Arts & Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Supervisor

Reed Mueller, Ph.D.

Keywords

cognitive load, conformity, social media

Abstract

Objective: Conformity is an important phenomenon to examine as it has the potential to influence a vast majority of people in everyday life, especially with the current technology of social media available. Factors that affect conformity rates have had little examination in the past, but are important to note in order to fully understand this behavior of conformity. I designed this study to observe the potential effects of one such factor, cognitive load, on conformity rates in an online setting with the goal of generalizing results to the effects of social media in our contemporary society. Design: I devised an online survey, with two groups; an experimental group who experienced high cognitive load and a control group who experienced low cognitive load, while tasked with the rating of 10 purposefully unfunny cartoons. My study took place in an online setting using the social media platform of Facebook to gain participants in order to meet the research goal of being able to generalize results to the effects of overstimulation (a form of cognitive load) experienced with social media on conformity rates in society. Main Outcome Measures: I examined high cognitive load as a potential variable in increasing conformity rates to group pressure in an online setting. Results: My analyses showed that high cognitive load did not increase rates of conformity, and the best conclusion is that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. I did observe a trend that high cognitive load seemed to decrease conformity rates, although the trend was not statistically significant. Conclusion: The results were not significant, therefore the most viable conclusion is that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. The trend seen is discussed as potentially being related to cognitive rationing and attention theory.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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