People who suffer from mental disorders are one of the most stigmatized groups in today’s society. Others who are unaware of what exactly a mental illness is classify them as dangerous and unpredictable. These stigmas lead not only to a personal effect on those with mental illness, but because of reduction of perceived negative stigma there has been a reduction in research in this area.
One of the most common mental disorders is bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder causes a person to go into deep depressive moods and then switch to a high almost erotic mood, and emotions appear to be unbalanced. Approximately ten million people in the United States are diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.
One psychologist, Solomon Asch, did a variety of experiments based on the idea of group conformity. One of his variations of the famous conformity experiments had a confederate be a partner to the actual participant this “partner” would always provide the correct answer. During this variation the conformity rate decreased from 33% to 5%.
The idea behind this study is to determine if having a model claiming to be bipolar would sway the participant to conform to the larger group, which is stating an incorrect answer. This variation used scenarios presenting a social interaction in which there was a person being bullied and the participant would have to state if they thought bullying was present. The reason for this is because bullying is a growing epidemic in the United States is bullying. In 2009 nearly eleven percent of students had reported being physically bullied and twenty percent had admitted being verbally bullied. One aspect with bullying is group conformity. If a group is involved in bullying an individual may realize their actions are hurtful, but will continue to conform to the group instead of taking a strong moral stance. This may occur because the individual fears becoming the next victim of bullying.