The Impact of Confederates: Conformity in Groups Derek Henry, Ty Ward, Marisa Brahm, Rachel Wilson, and Fabio Coartney University of Alaska Anchorage

IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS The Impact of Confederates: Conformity in Groups Solomon Asch‟s infamous line experiment has had a profound effect on the field of research psychology since its publication in the 1950‟s. Social conformity has become a widely studied and criticized subject for many years and interest on the topic continues to grow. This study investigated conformity using confederates based on the Asch‟s experiment by looking at the impact that confederates have on conformity in a group setting. Stowell, Oldham, and Bennett (2010) found that there was a relationship between conformity behaviors and levels of shyness experienced in a classroom setting due to voicing opinions publically. It was also found that technology can be used as a tool to circumvent this obstacle of anxiety that debilitates an individual from public participation. Student Response System (SRS) or “Clickers” were used to indicate opinions of 50 controversial topics, presented in the form of questions, in a public setting to induce levels of anxiety to participants. 128 female students enrolled in an introductory psychology class were used for the study. The Academic Emotions Questionnaire (AEQ) was administered to students and used to measure levels of shame and anxiety that parallels shyness using a one to five scale with five indicating the strongest belief in the statement presented on the questionnaire. When participants were given the option of hand rising or using the SRS to respond to questions, clicker responses


supported their hypothesis that anxiety can be overcome while responding publicly to a question. Clicker results showed a substantial variation on agreement compared to hand raised responses suggesting the effects of public conformity or the unspoken power of the group and the need for group affiliation to avoiding ostracism or public humiliation. Brown and Schaefer (2010) focused on the effects of receiving information before attempting to recall a memory that is attached to a previously exposed stimulus to test the effects

This study was comprised of having subjects remember and differentiate between new and previously experienced pictures. Participants were comprised of 48 individuals aged 1824. The results of this study suggests that memory strength is not as affected by outside influence upon the recollection of a memory. The research method mentioned above reports that there is an effect on conformity behavior when confederates are involved in any studies. nine very positive) in which subjects were exposed to 36 of them then presented with the lot of 72 pictures displayed on a computer screen. The pictures were taken from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). The study was conducted in a libratory setting projecting 12 slides . negative. The pictures were classified as having a positive. There were 29 more females than males at 19. or neutral valiance to test if emotional stimuli (pictures) were more susceptible to corruptibility when presented with accurate or inaccurate information prior to the subjects independent testimony (before a confederate providing accurate or inaccurate information).IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 3 of memory conformity. The goal for the perception conformity experiment was to accurately predict behavior patterns of random individuals taking part in the study. This scale was also the same when rating the pictures for arousal ranging from a one to nine scale. The visual stimuli comprised of 72 pictures on both ends of the spectrum in valance ratings (one very negative. The pictures were given a standardized valence measuring one to nine with one being very negative and nine being very positive. This study is very important to show that eye whiteness testimony can be subjective and can be inaccurate because of susceptibility to influence to information conform and corrupt results. This paradigm for inaccuracy of recollection from eye witnessed events supports the importance of confederates in studies. Moscovici and Lage (1978) investigated the role of minority influence on individual susceptibility on judgment.

When test subjects were presented with a situation of having a group members go against the group‟s consensuses determining the color for the slide presented. The rules of social engagement acknowledge there rules or the demand characteristics of any given social situation. Taha Amir (1984) questioned whether or not the „Asch effect‟ is limited to western societies or if the phenomenon is universal. and changing their original judgment of a perceived stimulus. Two confederates were strategically placed in the group of six observers to maximize the introduction of the opposite belief to cause original judgments to be questioned and changed. individuals used negotiation tactics to suede others to their belief.2% of wrong answers in Asch‟s study and significantly . This conformity study placed individuals in an environment where stress was produced by having to choose to stick to an original individualistic judgment or by conforming 4 to the group‟s opinion to avoid conflict of being perceived as a threat to the group because of the differently held belief. the experiment‟s results were very similar to the results in Asch‟s experiments. 1984). confederates were instructed to give a unanimous answer which was clearly incorrect. The results of the experiment suggest that male critical subjects and female critical subjects were equally likely to conform to the incorrect group response under experimental conditions (Amir. As in the original study. objectivity. but situations do vary. preference and originality. Amir found that 29. Furthermore. The three fundamental rules for social engagement and interaction are. This research found that the rules of engagement of social interaction did in fact get taken into consideration upon subjects making.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS that were either blue or green onto a wall for subjects to see. Subjects were asked to voice publically the color of the previously observed slide based on their individualistic experience to the visual stimuli. conforming.01% of the experimental group‟s answers were erroneous which is comparable to the 33.

It was further noted that 18. “critical” trials and the remaining four being neutral trials (Collin et al. also investigated whether or not gender played a role in conformity.76% of the control group (1984). which originally focused on gauging the distance a point of . 359). It was also found that while the confederate gender did not matter. Participants were sorted into one of four groups based on their availability which varied the genders of the confederates and critical subjects. specifically color. p. 1994. In addition. therefore implying that the „Asch effect‟ is universal and not specific to American or European cultures (1984). Amir found no evidence of significant differences in conformity between genders as he originally suspected. Amir concluded that his results were consistent with those of Asch‟s original study. The experiment showed that 97% of subjects conformed to the group response during critical trials with only one subject who did not conform. The experiment. To correct this. female subjects conformed more frequently than male subjects. Subjects were first shown a color and then asked to pick which of the two color names they felt it was closest to. the experiment was changed in a way that would contain both external and internal validity. 1994).75% conformed to the group response every time. Sherif (1935) unintentionally demonstrated the conformity effect before it was known as the Asch effect. Instead objective stimuli such as line length.. and Malik (1994) reproduced the Asch effect in a different way. There were ten trials. with 6 being experimental or. Sano. Collin.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 5 different from the 4.. the experimenters utilized subjective stimuli.75% of critical subjects remained independent throughout the experiment while 3. One of the criticisms of Asch‟s experiment is that the methodology was flawed because it lacked external validity (Colin et al. Collin et al.

As a result. their opinion of its quality was influenced by the recorded sound of supposed other participant‟s laughing at it. Nosanchuk and Lightstone‟s (1974) research supports the view of conformity because they found that when participants of their study were rating the quality of a joke. was conducted in two parts: individual and group trials. or will tend to conform. subjects still held a range of values that was consistent with the standard set up by the group earlier in the experiment. Participants were asked to memorize a list of words and repeat them at a later time. participants showed conformity and responded with the same set of words given by the confederates. Feeny. Pliner. . 1935). The general trend showed that subjects who started with the individual trial had a wide range of values which narrowed to a smaller range consistent with the groups range as a whole. to that of a confederate‟s manipulated recognition. Confederates responded to the task first where they listed a different set of words then the words participants were shown. 6 Participants either started with an individual trial followed by three group trials or started with three group trials followed by an individual trial at a later date. Those who started with the group trials showed a much narrower range of values which continued to stay consistently small. & Sullivan (2011) found that people conformed to the perceived eating habits of others whether the independent variable (confederate) was an actual person or whether it was suggestive information regarding the eating habits of others involved in their study. Polivy. Schneider and Watkins‟ (1996) research supports the idea that participant‟s perceived recognition of information can be influenced.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS light moved without an objective scale. Upon return for their individual trial. It was questioned what the group may do when faced with the issue of having no physical basis for a norm (Sherif.

Asch (1951) found that if another person dissents from the majority. and Bovard on group influence to characterize the impact of many different kinds of social factors. the normative social influences are higher. This study hypothesized that normative social influence upon individual judgments would be greater among individuals forming a group than individuals who did not compose a group. Results showed that the hypotheses received strong support from the experimental data. participants rarely agreed with the majority.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS (Nosanchuck & Lightstone. The experiment was an experimental situation developed by Asch with certain modifications and variations. Tact and situational sensitivity may be as crucial to integrity and justice as accuracy and forthrightness. . For example if the participants heard the sound of laughter while they were rating an operationally defined poor joke. Research on normative assumptions has led psychologists to interpret the studies in terms of conformity causing a new approach to Asch‟s (1956) studies relating physical and social perception. producing more errors in individual judgment. On 12 of the 18 perceptual judgments the confederates announced unanimously 7 incorrect judgments while the participant was in a face-to-face situation. This study suggests that agreeing with the incorrect majority occasionally might not be an error. even when the group situation is as trivial and artificial. Research on two types of social influence. they tended to rate its quality higher than its initial rating in regards to how it was operationally defined. Consistent disagreement with others is likely to generate anger and reactance. Asch. A minority is most likely to be influential when it is consistent and persistent. but a creative strategy to communicate unity. 1974). cutting of communication from the group. When a group situation is created. explores studies done by Sherif. Asch‟s situation can be considered to be presenting a choice between competing and cooperating.

IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 8 Research on two commonly held ideas about Asch‟s Work in social psychology: (a) Asch was primarily interested in social phenomena in general and in-group processes in particular and (b) Asch was a forerunner of social cognition. The laser pointer was on the duration of the experiment. his main interest was the single individual. real social phenomenal experience. This study will only use direct influence to sway the subjects‟ answers as conformity behavior is greatly influenced within a social setting. or meaning. Materials and Procedure Visual Stimuli consisted of a battery operated red laser pointer. Participation in the study was mostly due to partial requirement or for extra credit for a class. A one centimeter hole was cut in the shoe box to let the light escape. The laser pointer was taped to the on position then taped to the inside of the shoe box. Asch was not interested in groups. The contextual factors which impact people‟s judgment according to phenomenal rather than conditioning principles were also illustrated in Asch‟s (1948) studies. Asch proposed that the nature of the experimental setting may affect the perception of the task in a judgmental situation. In addition it was hypothesized that there will be a higher level of conformity with a higher level of exposure to false report. Method Participants Participants consisted of Undergraduate students taking classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage. . This study hypothesized that participants would conform to the false reports of confederates when indicating whether or not the visual stimuli moved. Mugny (1984) presented the idea that a direct or an indirect influence could have different effects on conformity subjects.

Subjects sat alongside confederates unknowingly. Since laser pointer remained on throughout the experiment. (Seating position in appendix c) Design and procedure Participants first filled out and return the research consent form with the demographic questionnaire (see appendix A and appendix B) before they received instructions to sit in a designated chair within the experimental condition. Participants observed the visual stimuli for 30 seconds during each testing phase. laser light was blocked by the paper flap to remove visual stimuli from wall. A row of eight chairs were placed in a semi circle faced in the direction of where the laser light was. The 9 . The room where the experiment took take place is 261 in SSB. participants in the control group indicated on a self report sheet a movement response by checking yes or no under the appropriate column (see appendix G). A hand not raised was indicated as a no response during testing phase. The eight participants in the control group were not asked to sit in a predetermined chair. After every session. Between tests. Subjects and confederates were seated in chairs during the entire experiment. The raising of hand indicated a yes response that was recorded. Upon entering the room and taking their seats participants was asked to face towards the front of the room for the duration of the experiment. Participants were instructed to indicate movement of the visual stimuli by raising one hand during each testing session. a paper flap was constructed and taped to the box to impede the light from projecting to the viewing area between testing sessions. Confederates were used in the experimental groups to test if exposure to false report causes conformity of agreement. Indication of movement by hand raised was visible for rater and group to see.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS The shoe box was then placed on a level surface twenty feet from a bare projection wall.

and ooh-ing while raising their hand to indicate movement during the testing session. fidgeting in seat. The experimenter blocked and unblocked the light with the paper flap while verbally stating the start and end of testing sessions. 10 confederates falsely reported movement of the laser light during all but one session. two confederates were placed in the seats four and five (see appendix c for seating arrangement of groups). In the other experimental group. This method was conducted only on the weak experimental false report group and results were recorded. In the experimental groups. two confederates gave false reports indicating movement of the laser light in all ten testing session. The control group consisted of eight subjects seated in the testing environment without confederates. control group which consisted of eight participants without the presents of confederates. Expression strength for false report was determined as strong when confederate esthetically introduces false report by smiling. and the weak false report group that consisted of one confederate among six participants. weak false report experimental group which consisted of one confederate and six participants. Experimental groups differed in strength of false report experienced given by the number of confederates in the group.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS light of the room was needed to be turned on and off for the control group to indicate their answer on the answer sheet. The weak false report was introduced by the confederate‟s raise of hand. The number of false responses was expected to be lowest in the zero percentage confederate groups. Results In order to test whether the number of false responses would increase depending on the percentage of confederates. In the strong false report experimental group. There were 10 trials each 30 seconds long given to all groups. higher in the . three independent t tests were conducted. One experimental group had one confederate who was seated in the third chair.

Also contrary to our prediction. Discussion The original hypothesis of the study stated that the false reports of the confederates would influence the responses of participants when indicating whether or not they saw the visual stimuli move. Contrary to our prediction. Research suggests that the results of this study would have supported the original hypothesis. but not significantly. The non-significant results could have been due to multiple confounding variables that were not accounted for when designing and conducting the experiment.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 11 14% (weak) confederate group. but not significantly. In conjunction with our prediction. More specifically. and highest in the 200% (strong) confederate group. but not significantly.25. t (13) = 1. ns. the baseline data rendered from the control group is non-significant as well. ns. the number of false responses in the strong percentage group was higher than the weak percentage group. as a result of the control group being comprised solely of students from the same class as the experimenters.15. the number of false responses in the zero percentage group was higher than the strong percentage group. In addition to this. it was hypothesized that there would be a stronger level of conformity in the experimental group with a higher confederate to participant ratio. the number of false responses in the zero percentage group was higher than the weak percentage group. t (7) = 0. The results of the study did not support the hypothesis because there was not a significant difference in conformity between the experimental groups. Unfortunately at the last minute the design of the experiment had to be changed due to this confounding variable. Due to issues with the research portal.78. The experiment had to be conducted with a considerably lower . ns. t (6) = 0. the amount of participants that the study required was not met.

Because the majority of the participants in the study were class mates. it could have caused them to try and give answers that they believed the researchers were looking for or inhabiting demand characteristics within the study. If the participants believed they knew what the experimenters were actually studying. which are very slight. especially because the study was conducted on the second floor of the SSB building. which shakes whenever there is minimal movement such as walking. there would be no point in comparing the experimental data to it. Flawed methodology had a detrimental effect on the study because it affected its internal validity. shifting in chairs. Specifying if the light moved more than an inch would have been a better way for the participants to indicate if the light moved because this would have minimized yes answers that resulted from the eye‟s natural saccadic movements. It also could have caused them to intentionally give wrong answers. Doing the experiment on a ground floor and with a more stable platform such as a table would have been a more reliable way to set up the experiment. There was not enough light for the participants to mark their answers when the light was off in . The weak experimental group was mostly participants that were also in the same class and the strong experimental group only had one participant who was in the same class as well.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 12 number of participants which affected the generalizability and external validity of the experiment because there was no way to control for this variable. etc. As previously. stated the control group was solely participants that were also in the same class as the experimenters which affected the baseline data that was computed. Without reliable baseline data. An unstable light platform was another confounding variable. it increased the possibility that the participants had an idea as to what the true intentions of the study were. The design of the study had to be changed again at the beginning of the control group session as well. This confounding variable introduced a very significant amount of bias in the implementation of the study.

To solve this issue the researcher had to walk back and forth to turn the light on and 13 off in between each fifteen second testing intervals (causing the floor to shake). It is also worth mentioning that the experimenter bumped the apparatus that was holding the visual stimuli which also caused the light to move. and the experimenter did not have a clear view of chairs one and eight during the testing sessions. it is also possible that he recorded the answers of the participants seated in the chairs incorrectly. Two less severe confounding variables that may have skewed the results were that a way to record and code the answers of the participants was not formulated before the experiment was conducted. which had two confederates and one participant. when the intention of the study was that the stimuli remain still at all times. not conformity. the experimenter stared at the participant more than the other confederates. could also have affected the data rendered from the study. which took away from the internal validity of the study. It is very probable that the participants of the study said that the light moved due to these confounding variables. The answers from each participant had to be matched after the experimental portion was over and it is possible that some of the data was matched incorrectly. Feedback from participants indicated that the light looked like it was moving in almost all of the sessions. Due to the fact that the experimenter could not see chairs one and eight clearly (due to computer monitors).IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS the room. This experimental bias behavior could have skewed the responses of the participant in that they were less likely to conform to the confederate‟s answers because they may have been aware of the confederate‟s intentions. This could have made it more obvious that there were confederates in the experiment because the confederates and the participant were not treated the same. During the strong experimental group testing sessions. Experimental bias. . The accumulation of these variables caused the visual stimuli to move (or appear to move).

and running a pilot study were all made very evident. 14 In conducting this study. . Formulating a way to match answers to specific participants before the experiment and conducting the experiment in a room other than a computer room would have eradicated both of these confounding variables.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS Accounting for the variables would have been simple if they had been foreseen. if it was replicated in a way that did account for these variables. the importance of attention to detail. The study of saccadic eye movements is yet another topic that could be elaborated on through further research as a result of the study as well. the results could be used to make generalizations or provide insight in regards to conformity and college student behavior (because all the participants were college students). It would likely open the door to a number hypothetical questions and research opportunities regarding all of these topics. A pilot study would have made the many confounding variables very clear and it would have allowed the researchers to make adjustments to the experimental design. Although there were many confounding variables that were not accounted for in this study. preparation.

H. B. 10. (1999).. 12. 3.Comparing live and remote models in eating conformity research. Effects of confederate and subject gender on conformity in a color classification task. J. C. (2011).eatbeh.08. Collin...2010. doi:10. T. A. F. Inter.. Asch‟s social psychology: Not as social as you may think. Conformity to peer pressure by students with learning disabilities: A replication. 458-459.735 Leyens. Brown. J.. J. M. 12. & Corneille. & Malik.. 345-357. (2010).1016/j. Pearl. 607-621. M. pragmatics. The Asch conformity effect: A study in Kuwait.1002/per. Deutsch...actpsy. 22. J. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 2-19. L. O.2009.and intrapersonal processes underlying authoritarianism: The role of social conformity and personal need for structure. 133. C. J. Social Behavior and Personality. Social Behavior and Personality. A. The effects of conformity on recognition judgments for emotional stimuli. P. Polivy. Personality and Social Psychology. (1989). Personality and Social Psychology. 629-636. 51. C.. (1994). Cohrs. Sano. Jugert. P.007 Hodges. (2006).004 15 Bryan.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS References Amir. P. A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment.. . and moral dilemmas. 22. & Gerard. P. B. 187-190.. & Geyer. & Sullivan. 38-44. H. Acta Psychologica. European Journal of Personality. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. Feeney. R. & Fallon.. (1984).09. D. (2009).. D. doi:10. R. 355-364. & Duckitt. Eating Behaviors. T.1016/j. Pliner. A. 75-77. & Schaefer. doi:10. R. 23. (1955). A nonconformist account of the Asch experiments: Values.

European Journal of Social Psychology. 14. 8. Compliance. . M. D. Nosanchuk. J. 353-368.2420080307 Mugny. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. M. conversion and the Asch paradigm. (2010). Studies in social influence IV: Minority influence in a context of original judgments. 37. A study of some social factors in perception: Chapter 3. M..1037/h0035737 Schneider. E. & Bennett. 349–365. & Watkins.. G. Teaching of Psychology. (1978). Using student response systems (“Clickers”) to combat conformity and shyness. doi:10. 481-485. (1996). (1974).IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 16 Moscovici. 3(4). D. 29. (1984).. Sherif. T. Archives of Psychology. Canned laughter and public and private conformity.. doi:10. A. European Journal of Social Psychology. Oldham. 27. & Lage. J. 153-156. T. R.1002/ejsp. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 135-140. & Lightstone.. Stowell. S. 23-46. J. (1935). Response conformity in recognition testing.

Signature _________________________________________ Date ______________ Printed Name ______________________________________ A copy of this consent form is available for you to keep. participants will observe a stimulus and report the actions of the stimulus. Your participation in this project is completely voluntary. you are free to do so. please contact the UAA Office of Academic Affairs at (907) 786-1921. The experiment will consist of 10 trials to be preformed back to back and will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes. During this experiment. There is no known risk to you as a participant in this experiment.(907) 786 – 1617 Department: Psychology 17 The purpose of this experiment is to determine how lighting conditions effect the perception of an individual.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS (Appendix A) University of Alaska Anchorage Research Consent Form Visual Perceptions Principal Investigator: Ty Ward Research supervisor: Vickie Wesolowski . please do not hesitate to ask now or at any time during the experiment. If you have any further questions regarding your rights as a participant. and you will not be penalized in any way if you choose not to participate. and that your involvement is voluntary. Your actions and responses during this experiment will remain anonymous and any publication or presentation of the data derived from this experiment will not carry any personally identifying information. If you have any questions. please contact Research Supervisor Vickie Wesolowski at the number listed above. If at any point you chose to withdrawal from the experiment. . If you have any questions or concerns regarding your participation in this experiment. Your signature below indicates that you fully understand the above study. what is being asked of you.

. Upon completion. please return form to the rater to receive further instructions.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 18 Please fill out questioner to the best of your abilities.

IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS (Appendix B) How old are you? (Age)_______ What is your gender? (male/female) _______ How tall are you? (Feet)________(Inches) ________ What is your major? _______ Do you wear glasses/contacts/and or both? (yes/no)_______ How many years have you been enrolled in college?_______ 19 .

Please refrain from talking at anytime during this experiment and please silence your cell phones. A no answer will be recorded if you do not raise your hand to indicate what you have seen movement of the dot. Upon exiting the room you will be debriefed. You will be observing the visual stimuli for 15 seconds during each experiment test session. .IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS (Appendix C) Good afternoon participants. We will like to thank you for participating in our perception study. If at anytime you see 20 movement of the red dot raise your hand to indicate that you have seen movement of the dot. During the test you will indicate whether you observed the visual stimuli to move or not move.


IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS (Appendix E) Experimental Manipulation: Experimental Comments Manipulation: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Participant Response 22 Experimental Manipulation: Trial 1 2 3 Participant Response Comments .

IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 23 Experimental Manipulation: Trial 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Participant Response Comments .

had no other purpose in our study except to try and make the study seem more like it was measuring perception. Our experiment has nothing to do with measuring perception. This is called the debriefing. like you were. and the third had no confederates. The results of this study will help us evaluate and determine whether or not the need to be seen as normal.” (Asch‟s line experiment). it is imperative that each person who participates in this study is unaware of the nature and details of the study. The question that was asked regarding how far the visual stimuli was thought to move. In this experiment we are examining the effect of close proximity social pressure on our participant‟s tendency to conform to that social pressure. until it ends. There is a significant amount of research that supports the idea that we as human beings more often than not tend to conform to what is seen as normal or acceptable social behavior. when indicating whether or not the visual stimuli shown on the board at the front of the room moved.IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS (Appendix F) Debriefing Statement 24 This experiment is officially over and I will explain what this experiment is about. It is very important that you not discuss the details of this study with your classmates. or correct in the eyes of others. In order to collect good quality data. There were three different groups of participants that were examined. is stronger than one‟s own opinion. One group had four confederates. another had two confederates. . It was designed to see if our participants would start conforming to a wrong answer given by confederates. even if that behavior is not “correct. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Thank you for your participation. .IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 25 You may now sign the appropriate sign-in sheet to receive your extra credit.

IMPACT OF CONFEDERATES IN GROUPS 26 Appendix G Self report control group table .

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