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Social Influence

Overview of the topic Social Influence for AS Psychology. (Information from revision notes and text books)

Sarah Jane

on 24 March 2014

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Transcript of Social Influence

Types of Conformity...
Public conformity, private views.
Conforming both publicly and privately, but not permanently.
Total Conversion of views.
Social Influence - Revision...
Types of Social Influence...
Normative Social Influence...
To be liked.
Informational Social Influence...
To be right.
Asch (1951)
Majority Influence
Non unanimous majority.
Size of majority
Losing a partner
Gaining a partner
Difficulty of task
Zimbardo (1973)
Conforming to social roles.
Unethical study
Proves normative social influence
People behave differently in new situations.
Prison Simulation...
Line Experiment...
Obedience to Authority...
My Lai Massacre

Milgram's Experiment
Right to withdraw
After Care
Why People obey...
Legitimate Authority
Gradual Commitment (Foot in the door)
Contractual Obligation
Altered Meaning
The Agentic Shift
Personality Factors
(CAT's can't use LG in BP)
Independent Behaviour - Resisting Conformity...
Desire to be individual.
Desire to be in control.
Prior Commitment.
Time to think & seek social support.
Resisting pressures to obey authority...
Feeling responsible and empathy
Disobedient models
Questioning motives
Time to discuss
People feel that their freedom is threatened.
Individual differences on independent behaviour...
Moral reasoning
Locus of control*
Gender differences
*Internal Locus of Control - Own actions are responsible for future events.
External Locus of Control - Fate & Luck are responsible for future events.
Social Change & Minority Influence...
Group Membership:
We are more influenced by people who are similar to us.
Social Cryptoamnesia:
People don't remember where the negative sources of a minority view point.
Snowball Effect:
The more who agree with the minority, the more will follow.
Consistent agreement and belief in an idea.
Exam Question: Outline & Evaluate Research into conformity. (12 marks)
Conformity is a type of social influence, it is the tendency of some people to adopt the behaviour, attitudes, and values of other members of a group. There are three different types of conformity; Compliance - public conformity, but you maintain your own opinions or views, for example watching a football match in the pub, Identification - both public and private conformity, these attitudes can change if there is a change of circumstance, for example moving house, changing school, Internalisation - conversion or complete change of views that become part of our values, like for example becoming a vegetarian.

There is lots of evidence which supports the idea of conformity and demonstrates conformity in different situations. However, there are faults with certain studies as well. Asch's study is one of the most well -known experiments which supports the idea of conformity. His study involved asking participants to answer a question in a certain order, with the 'confederates' (working along side the experimenter) answering with the same incorrect answer on 12 of the critical trials. 36.8% of the responses made by the participants were wrong, i.e. they conformed to the incorrect response. Although this experiment may prove that conformity does exist, and shows that, in certain circumstances, people will be inclined to agree with the majority in order to be liked and included, there has been some criticism with this study. For example some psychologists say that this experiment was unethical - deception & lack of consent. The participants did not know that they were being tricked, nor did they know that most of the other participants were 'confederates'. However they could not be told about the purpose of the experiment, and whether or not the other participants were actors, as it would have affected the results at the end of the experiment. We can also say that his experiment lacked validity as they were asked to answer a unimportant question. This means that they would have conformed to save face, if it was a more important task, we would see the levels of conformity drop.

Another experiment which tested the theory of conformity was done by a psychologist called Zimbardo. He wanted to see how 'ordinary' people wou behave when placed in a prison environment, and designated half of them as guards, and the other as prisoners. He wanted to see of people conform to the roles they are given when placed in the appropriate environment. He did this by simulating a prison, and giving half of the prisoners the role of the guards, and the other half the role of the prisoners. He chose his participants by testing those who answered his advertisement. He chose 24 men who were the most emotionally & physically stable and were randomly assigned one of the two roles. A mock prison was set up in the basement of a university in California, his prisoners were unexpectedly arrested at home, and when they arrived at the prison, they were stripped, given plain white smocks to wear, and were only referred by their prisoner number. 5 prisoners had to be released before the end of the experiment, as they became too distressed, Zimbardo himself got too carried away thus prompting him to end the experiment a week early. His findings showed that the prisoners and the guards adapted the surroundings and started to behave like they would in a real prison. There were riots, and the prisoners would refuse to do what they were told, the guards got increasingly more strict, and started to harm the prisoners. Zimbardo concluded that situational factors seem to be ore important than dispositional ones, because 'ordinary' students all too easily become violent when placed in the right situation and environment. This experiment has been criticised as unethical as it put the participants in risk of getting harmed, there was no indepentent surveillance to stop it from getting carried away. There was also deceit of participants as they weren't told about certain things about the experiment, like for example getting arrested at their home. Finally some psychologists say that all of the participants displayed 'Demand Characteristics', they behaved in a way that they thought was expected of them by the researcher.
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