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Georgina Jones

on 2 June 2013

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Conformity Conformity = A form of social influence that results from exposure to the majority position. It is the change in behaviour, attitudes and values in line with the majority. Majority Influence Asch (1956)... Aimed to see if participants would yield to majority influence
123 male american students used
Participants were asked to take part in a 'vision test', and identify which line was the same as the standard line
Confederates were told to say the wrong answer
36.8% conformed (wrong answers)
Showed normative social influence (wanted to fit in) Other related research... Evaluating Asch... Validity of the results is limited as the task was insignificant and not realistic
Ethical considerations (deception, no informed consent) Perrin & Spencer... Called Asch's study a 'Zeitgeist' (child of its time)
McCarthyism in 1950's; everyone conformed Smith & Bond... 2 part meta-analysis
Studied conformity in collectivist + individualistic cultures after 1950's
Shows cultural variations in conformity (Asch only on americans)
Supports Perrin + Spencer as levels of conformity dropped after 1950's (Asch results cannot be generalised to all times) Minority Influence Moscovici et al (1969)... Aimed to see how social influence occurs through minority influence and internalisation
32 groups of 6 women (2 confederates, 4 real participants)
Had to say the colour of 36 blue slides
Participants were told it was a colour perception test
1st condition - confederates said slides were green 36/36 times (being consistent)
2nd condition - confederates said slides were green 24/36 times(being inconsistent)
Consistent condition = 8.42% conformity, only 1.25% in inconsistent Evaluating Moscovici et al... Only used females (not ecologically valid)
Women are more conformist anyway; not real-life results
Ethics (deception), although participants were debriefed Other related research... Clarke... 12 'angry' men on a jury
Shows explanations of minority influence (consistensy etc.) Wood et al (1994)... Meta-analysis of 97 studies into minority influence
Minorities that were more consistent were more influential Normative Social Influence... = A form of social influence whereby we look to others to decide the most 'normal' response or behaviour so we can fit in with the majority of the group. Informational Social Influence... = A form of social influence whereby we look to others for information about the correct answer or appropriate way to behave. Kelman proposed 3 explanations... Compliance (Publicly acting in accordance with the wishes/actions of others)
Internalisation (When someone conforms publicly and privately, it may include a change of internal beliefs and attitudes)
Identification (Someone conforms because they identify with the group. By adopting their attitudes and behaviours they feel more part of the group) Obedience = A type of social influence whereby someone obeys an order from a figure with perceived authority Obedience to authority Milgram (1963)... To find out whether ordinary people would commit atrocious acts just because they were told to do so by an authority figure
40 male participants at Yale University took part in a 'learning activity'
The participant was always the teacher, the confederate was the learner (being shocked)
Told to give shocks when given an incorrect answer, shocks increasing each time
Milgram predicted that only 4% would go up to 300 volts, 100% did in the actual study
65% of participants went all the way up to 450 volts
Shows how people are extremely obedient, even when asked to do inhumane things
Milgram said it was down to situational factors, not the individual person Variations of Milgram's study... Evaluating Milgram... Very influential, further research now done about human behaviour
Ethics (deception, no informed consent, confusion about right to withdraw "must proceed")
Baumrind argued that participants were not protected from psychological harm, however interviews conducted one year after the experiment showed that 74% felt glad they'd taken part
Only males used (not ecologically valid), although replications using women showed similar results Why do people obey? Stanley Milgram said obedience is down to situational factors... Evaluating why people obey... Obedience Location change Moved from Yale University to a run-down office. Obedience (giving full 450 volts) dropped to 48% Proximity of the learner Teacher and learner in same room, conformity dropped to 40% Touch-proximity study Teachers had to force learner's hand onto a shock plate. Obedience levels dropped to 30% Proximity of the authority figure Experimenter giving orders over the phone, obedience dropped to only 21% Presence of allies/dissenter When another 'teacher' refuses to give the shocks, obedience levels were a lot lower at 10% Other research... Hofling et al (1966)... Nurses were telephoned by 'Dr Smith' and asked to administer 20mg of a drug (twice the normal dosage)
Nurses are not supposed to take instructions via the phone
21 out of 22 (95%) obeyed Link to Milgram... Milgram's study could be criticised as not ecologically valid (not true life)
However, Hofling et al show that high levels of obedience can occur in a real life situation, therefore supporting Milgram's results 1. Gradual Commitment... 2. Agentic Shift... 3. The Role of Buffers... 4. Justifying Obedience... 'Foot in the door' In Milgram's study... As participants had already given lower level shocks, it was hard to resist the experiment's requirements to give higher shocks.
Each shock was only 15 volts higher than the last
As they've commited to a certain course of action, it was difficult for them to change their minds. The Agentic state... = the condition a person is in when they see themselves as an agent for carrying out another person's wishes The Autonomous state... = the state a person is in when they see themselves as acting on their own Milgram argued... People shift back and forth between the agentic state and the autonomous state In Milgram's study... The teacher and learner were in different rooms with the teacher protected (buffered) from seeing the consequences of the shocks
When the learner was in the same room, the buffering effect was reduced, and therefore so was the overall level of obedience Other examples... The buffering effect is similarly used to explain the apparent willingness of people to dispatch weapons of mass destruction.
E.g. a missile does not have an immediate effect, and the consequences cannot be seen. In Milgram's study... The initial justification of the participants' role in delivering shocks was given as being that science wants to help people improve their memory through the use of reward and punishment.
Dissenters who later tried to remove themselves from the role were told that they must continue "because the experiment requires it".
By offering an ideology (good for science etc.), people appear willing to surrender their freedom of action in the belief that they are serving a justifiable cause. Other examples... During the Holocaust, the Nazis propaganda machine had portrayed the Jews as a danger to all Germans; thus justifying the horrific obedience that was to follow. Monocausal Emphasis: Mandel (1998) suggests that explaining the Holocaust as a result of blind obedience ignores other vital factors. Agentic Shift: The agentic shift seen in Milgram's study may not be applicable to the Holocaust as the acts were carried out for years (Milgram's study only for 30 mins). Also, in Milgram's study, participants were told there would be no permanent tissue damage. The consequences of an obedience alibi: Explaining the acts during the Holocaust as attributable to situational factors is distressing for those affected by it as it seems to say that war criminals were not responsible for their crimes and that it was down to the situation. How people resist pressures to conform... How people resist pressures to obey... Independent Behaviour The role of allies/dissenters The role of allies causes conformity levels to drop dramatically Moral considerations Conformity dropped significantly when asked to do something with moral significance (e.g. cheating) Personality factors Some individuals actively oppose the norm and want to be different and an individual Moral reasons Kohlberg (1969) suggested that those who obeyed the most may have a restricted level of moral development. Legitimacy of authority figure In variations of Milgram's study; when the authority figure or setting had less status (run-down office), the obedience levels dropped. 'I am a hero!' Zimbardo (2007) suggested that some people will disobey because they are 'hereos' who are willing to disobey for the good of others in society. Locus of Control... A person's perception of personal control over their own behaviour and destiny.
It is measured along a dimension of high internal to high external
Generally, those with an internal locus of control will be more likely to display independent behaviour. Believes behaviour is caused mainly by their own personal decisions and efforts Believes their behaviour is cause mainly by fate, luck of by other external circumstances LOCUS OF CONTROL HIGH INTERNAL HIGH EXTERNAL Social change = When a whole society adopts a new belief or way of behaving which then becomes widely accepted as the norm. Implications for social change... Implications of conformity research... When minorities become majorities... Once a majority attracts enough supporters it can become the majority. This is known as the 'snowball effect'. Terrorism as an act of social change... Kruglanski (2003) argues that terrorism can be considered a form of social change.
E.g. after 9/11; attitudes, beliefs and behaviours changed (airport security, islamaphobia) How do minority groups bring about social change? Attention They need to draw attention to themselves in order to bring about any changes. Consistency Their message needs to be clear and consistent (supported by Moscovici's research) The role of conflict Minorities may create a conflict within people when they begin to examine their views. (E.g. people in the 1950's may have considered the views of the black civil rights movement, causing an internal conflict) Augmentation Minorities who have been particularly successful have often been willing to sacrifice for their beliefs. (E.g. martin luther king was assassinated during his fight for equal race rights.) Real life ideas... Gandhi's salt march brought about positive social change in India Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. One of the first steps in the Civil Rights Movement. The Suffragettes show the power of minority influence as a form of social change. The impact of a disobedient role model... Often, to bring about social change you have to go against the majority, disobey rules and sometimes face a great deal of adversity.
A variation of Milgram's obedience study which introduced a disobedient 'teacher' who disobeyed the experimenter, saw disobedience of 36 out of the 40 participants; illustrating the important role disobedient role models can play.
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