Social Influence

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  • Conformity- Social Influence
  • Identification
    • Conforming to opinions / behaviors of a group as there's something about the group we value
      • We identify with the group
  • Compliance
  • Person genuinely accepts the group norms
    • Private/ public change of opinions and behaviors
  • Permanent change
  • Attitudes have been internalized
    • Change in attitudes/ behaviour persists even in absence of  other group members
  • We want to be part of the group
    • Public change even if we don't agree privately with everything the group stands for
  • 'Going along with others' in public
  • No private change in opinions/ behaviour
  • Results in a superficial change
  • Particular behavior stops as soon as group pressure does
  • Types
  • Explanations
    • Deutsch and Gerald developed a two process theory
  • Arguing that there are 2 main reasons people conform
    • Based on 2 central needs: need to be right (ISI) and need to be liked (NSI)
      • Informational Social Influence
  • About who has the better information
  • Often we are uncertain about what beliefs and behaviours are right and wrong
    • For example, not knowing the right answer in class
      • If most of the class agrees on an answer you accept that answer as you feel they're most likely to be right
        • ISI is a cognitive process
          • Most likely to occur in new situations or crisis situations (experts)
  • Normative Social Influence
    • About norms
      • What is 'normal' or 'typical' behaviour for a social group
  • Norms regulate the behavior of groups and individuals
    • People do not like to appear foolish
  • We pay attention to the norms
    • People prefer social approval than rejection
  • NSI is an emotional process
  • Most likely to occur in situations with strangers where you feel concerned about rejection
    • Situations with our friends- most concerned about social apporval from our friends
  • More pronounced in stressful situations where people have a greater need for social support
  • Asch's research
    • Tested conformity by showing ppts 2 large white cards at a time
      • One card was a standard line
        • The other were 3 comparison lines
          • One of the 3 lines was the same length as the standard line
  • The other 2 were substantially different
    • Ppt was asked which of the 3 lines matched the standard line
      • Ppts= 123 male undergraduate
    • First few trials= All confederates gave the right answers but then started making errors
      • All confederates instrcuted to give same wrong answer
        • Each ppt took part in 18 trials and on 12 critical trials the confederates gave the wrong answer
  • Eaxh naive ppt was tested indivdually with a group of 6-8 confederates
  • Naive ppt was not aware that the others were confederates
  • Findings
  • Naive ppt gave wrong answer 36.8% of the time
    • 25% of ppts did not conform on any trials
      • 75% conformed at least once
        • The term 'Asch effect' has been used to describe this result
          • When ppt interviewed after most said they conformed to avoid rejection (NSi)
  • Asch's variations
    • Asch was further interested in the conditions that might lead to an increase or decrease in conformity
  • Carried out some variations in his original procedure
  • Unanimity
  • Task difficulty
  • Made stimulus line and comparison line more similar in length
    • Conformity increased
  • Suggests that ISI plays a greater role when the task gets harder
    • This is due to the situation being more ambigious
  • More likely to look to others for guidance and assume they are right and we are wrong
  • Wanted to know if the presence of another, non- conforming people would affect the ppts conforming
    • He introduced a confederate who disagreed with the others
      • Sometimes the confederate gave the right answer and sometimes they gave the wrong answer
  • The presence of a dissenting confederate reduced conformity by a quarter from the level when the majority was unanimous
    • The presence of a dissenter enabled naive ppt to behave more independently
      • Suggests that the influence of the majority depends to some extent on the group being unanimous
  • Group size
    • Wanted to know whether the size of the group would be more important than the agreement of the group
  • Found that 3 confederates conformity to the wrong answer rose to 31.8%
    • The addition of further confderates made little differecne
      • Suggests that a small majoirty is not suffient for influence to be exerted
        • No need for the majoiryy of more than three
  • Confromity to social roles: Zimbardo's research
    • Following reports of brutality  by guards in prsions across America in the late 1960s, Zimabrdo wanted to answer the question
      • 'Do prison guards behave because they have sadistic persoanlities or is it the situation that creates such behaviour?
  • Standord Prison Experiment
  • Procedure
  • Set up a mock prison in the basement of a psychology department at Stanford University
  • Advertised for students willing to volunteer
    • Selected those who were deemed 'emotionally stable' after extesnive psychology testing
      • Students were randomly assigned the roles of guards or prisoners
  • To heighten the realism of the study, ppts were arrested in their homes by the local police and then delviered to the prison
    • They were *****- searched, blind folded and issued a unifrom and number
      • The social roles of the prisoners and guards were strictly divided
  • Even deciding when they could go to the toilet
  • Findings
    • After a slow start to the stimulation, the guards took their roles up with enthusiasm
      • Guards behaviour became a threat to the prisoners ppsychological and phsycial health
  • The study was stopped after 6 days instead of the intended 14 days
    • Within 2 days the prisoners rebelled  against their harsh treatment by the guards
      • The ripped their uniforms, shouted and swore at the guards who retaliated with fire extinguishers
        • Guards emloyed 'divide and rule' tactics
          • Playing the prisoners off one another
            • The guards harrassed the prsioners constantly to remind them they were being monitored all the time eg. headcounts at night
  • The guards highlighted the differences in social roles by creating plenty of opportunities where they could punish even the smallest misendeavour and enforce the rules
    • After the rebellion was put down, the prisoners became subdued, depressed and anxious
      • One prisoner was released on the first day because he showed symptoms of psychological disturbance
        • Two more were released on the foruth day
  • One prisoner went on hunger strike. The prisoners attempted to force feed him
    • Then punished him by putting him in a hole in a tiny dark closet
      • The guards identified more and more closely with their role
        • Guards behaviour became more and more aggressive, some of them enjoyed the power they had over prisoners
  • Conclusions

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