Social Influence

I got an A using these notes. Good Luck :)

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  • Created on: 26-09-08 18:07
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Social influence = a study into how thoughts, beliefs, feelings & behaviour of individuals are
influenced/modified by the actual, imagined or implied presence or actions of others'. Conformity is
a change in behaviour, beliefs or shared attitudes as a result of real or imagined pressure from
There are 3 types of conformity defined by Kelman
Compliance = publicly conforming to the behaviour/ views of others but privately maintaining own
views i.e. If in a group of friends who support a particular football team, u might not reveal that u
support a different on e even if asked directly
Identification = adopting the views or behaviour of a particular group both publicly & privately
because u value membership of that group. However, the new attitudes/ behaviours are often
temporary & not maintained once u leave the group i.e. going to college change attitudes to fit in,
then once graduated move back to way u use to dress/behave or something completely different.
Internalisation = a conversion & true change of private views to match those of the group. New
attitudes or behaviours become part of ur value system i.e. a religious conversion ­ u take on a
religion. If u internalise their values u will value it & even if u lose contact with the person who
influenced u originally u will still maintain it ­ still go to church
Why do we conform?
Deutsch & Gerard
Normative social influence = based on a desire to be liked, following the crowd, we conform
because we think others will approve & accept us. The conformity that results from this desire to be
liked is often called -compliance ­ publicly going along with the majority but privately holding onto
one's beliefs ­ smoking ur friends say "wat u scared" so in a desire to be liked u do it
Informative social influence = based on a desire to be right, accepting majority's viewpoint, we
look to others whom we believe to be correct to give us information on how to behave. It is often
stronger when we move from one group to another i.e. young kids moving to uni might redefine
themselves as students (no longer pupils) & look to others to see what's acceptable (norms) ­
Majority & minority influence: a form of social influence
Majority influence (conformity) = a form of social influence that results from exposure to the
majority position. It's the tendency for people to adopt the behaviour, attitude & values of other
members of a reference group.
Asch 1951 - A study into conformity/majority influence
A = to see if Ps would yield (conform) to majority influence & give incorrect answers or stick firmly to
what they believe is right in a situation where the correct answers were obvious
P = 123 American male undergrads shown a series of lines there was a standard line & 3 other lines:
PS were seated around table & had to say which of the 3 matched the standard line. All but one of
the P were confederates (work with the experimenter & told set of instructions ­ say incorrect
answer). They were told to give wrong answer on 12 critical trials out of 18. True P was always last
or last but one to answer
F = on critical trials 36.8% of answers made by true P was wrong ­ they conformed to the majority
who all gave incorrect answers. 25% Ps never gave a wrong answer 75% conformed at least once
C = there is a surprisingly strong tendency to conform to a group. From Asch interviews at the end he
found that people conformed because of different reasons ­ some feel normative social influence
­compelled to accept the mistaken majority's norms to avoid being rejected. Distortion of
judgement: - others experience informational pressures & doubt their own judgements ­"surely

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Distortion of perception: ­ they really thought that the incorrect answers
were right
The ethical issues arisen from the P not knowing exactly what's going on in the beginning of the
experiment & thus full consent wasn't received = was overcome by offering the P a choice at end to
allow their results to be used in the research > Debriefing. Experimenter had high control over
experiment.…read more

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Minority Social Influence: It's a form of social influence where a persuasive minority exerts
pressure to change the attitudes, beliefs or behaviours of the majority. If people simply went along
with the majority all the time there would be no change or innovation. There are examples of when
small minorities have influenced the majority.
Nemeth believes that even when minorities are wrong, their views can stimulate productive
thinking- atheists/Hitler.…read more

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Group identification: Maass et al (1982) arranged for a group of `straight' Ps to hear arguments
about gay rights. If minority group was straight it had more influence on Ps than if group was gay ­
presumably because the Ps were better able to relate to the straight's which led to greater
influence. Influence only occurs when the minority (or majority) are members of our ingroup = the
people we identify with & are more likely to succeed.…read more

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Obedience to authority: an outcome of social influence where an individual acts according to the
orders of some authority figure. It is a more direct form of social influence where the individual does
not get a choice in whether they want to defy or comply with the order. Because of the superior
position of the commander the individual also considers the consequences of their disobedience.…read more

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Demand characteristics = unexpectedly high level of obedience ­ may be because done in
prestigious Uni, Ps may have felt they extra pressure not to look dumb/weak & thus behave
differently. Also, experimenter wore white lab coat = all this would make P seek cues in how to
behave. Other studies found when demand characteristics are changed obedience level dropped.…read more

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The internal validity of Milgram's study
Did the Ps really believe they were delivering shocks or did they see through the deception
­ if so then experiment lacks Int.…read more

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