PSYB2 Notes - Social Influence

These are notes I made for social influence for psyb2 As level (AQA). I got a really good mark with them so just for anyone who needs em :)

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  • Created on: 02-04-12 11:27
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Social Influence - Conformity
Conformity: A type of social influence in which individuals change their
attitudes, beliefs or behaviour in order to adhere to existing social norms
(Baron et al)
Aim: To see how the results given by majority effect individual results
Method: Used a jar full of beans. Asked students, individually to guess
the number of beans in a jar. Then got all of the people together to come
up with a group answer. He then asked everyone individually if they
would like to change their results.
Results: Almost all the people changed their guesses to be closer to the
group's estimate.
Conclusion: An example of informational conformity, when a person
lacks knowledge and looks to the majority for guidance. Person then
accepts views of groups and adapts them on as individual, and repeats
results to others.
External Validity: The type of task used is not one which is done in
everyday life, and so the results can't be generalised. Also, Jenness only
used students, which is not a true sample of the population, and s
results can't be generalised to the general population.
Autokinetic effect:
Aim: To demonstrate that people conform to social norms when they are
put in ambiguous situations.
Method: Used the autogenetic effect, where if you are put in a completely
dark room and a light is projected onto a screen, the spot of light will
appear to move, even though it as actually stationary. The aim of the Pps
was to estimate how much the light moved. Sherif then put people in sets
of three in a room, where two of the people had similar results, and one
of the people had a completely different estimate. Each of the three
people in the darkened room had to say aloud how much they thought
the light had moved.
Results: The results showed that the person in the groups whose
estimate was completely different to the other two had changed their
estimate to conform to the other two's views.
Conclusion: The results show that the deviant in the group conformed to
the majority view.

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Sherif (1936) conducted numerous other experiments using the
autogenetic effect. Where Pps had no previous experience of the auto
kinetic effect, he found that conformity to a majority view happened very
quickly. In any situation, the less a person has experience with a
situation, the higher the level of conformity to the majority view will be.
Evaluation of auto kinetic effect
The autokenetic effect is not something we come across in everyday life,
and so it lacks ecological validity.…read more

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Asch used students in his experiment who did know each other. The
social pressure is much greater among a group of friends.
Asch interviewed each Pps after they had taken part in his study. The
Pps who had changed their results because of the majority made excuses
as to why they changed their answer.
Types of conformity:
There are two main types of conformity:
Internalisation: the individual accepts the majority group view and also
believes that view to be correct.…read more

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This is a conformity to the majority as a result of information (things you
did not know) presented to by others in the group. The group is believed
to be correct in what they're saying and so the individual privately
accepts their view. This view may be repeated to others - this is an
important concept in informational social influence. Therefore, in
situations where there is less or little certainty, normative social
influence is more likely to produce conformity.…read more

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Aim: Investigate conformity, but where Pps sat alone in separate booth.
Aim was to determine levels of conformity when other people are not
Method: Pps sat in separate booths, side by side. In each booth there
was a set of switches and lights and each pp was told that they would be
given a simple task to make a decision about.…read more

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The task was for the "learner" (confederate) to answer some questions
asked by the "teacher". If the learner got a question wrong, they would
be given an electric shock. For every wrong answer given by the learner,
the voltage of the shock would be increased from the previous time.
The equipment had the number of volts of the electric shock which was
to given to the learner, with labels like "strong shock" "danger, sever
shock" and the final at 450 volts "XXX.…read more

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Explanations of obedience:
Kelman and Hamilton (1989) suggested the following factors as
explanation for obedience (also destructive obedience):
Legitimacy of the system
The extent to which a government, army, religious group is a legitimate
source of authority. Where one or more of these is seen by the individual
to be a legitimate source of authority, obedience to the system will be
high. If the authority is not seen to be legitimate, then obedience will be
low.…read more

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Milgram looked at various factors affecting obedience in the
teacher-learner experiment. These include the explanation of obedience
above and the proximity of the learner, proximity of the experimenter,
conflicting orders and gender differences.
Proximity of the learner:
This was varied by placing the learner and the teacher in the same room.
This made the obedience drop to 40%.
When the teacher had to put the hand of the learner on a metal plate to
deluver the shock, the obedience dropped to 30%.…read more

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Adorno developed the "F" scale (fascist scale) which measures different
aspects of personality - such as conventionalism (conforming to socially
accepted customs of behaviour), preoccupation with power, puritanical
sexual attitudes and superstition were all thought to be different
components of the authoritarian personality.
This offers an explanation of obedience to authority, as someone with an
authoritarian personality would obey orders given and expect others to
follow those orders too.…read more

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This can also be said for normative social influence - when the legitimacy
of the experimenter and setting is high, normative pressures to obey
authority will be high. Normative pressures are low where legitimacy is
questioned, resulting in low levels of obedience to authority.
Issues in studying social influence - Ethical Issues:
There are four main ethical issues that arise with social influence
research, especially with experiments which take place in psychology
labs.…read more


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