Social Influence Notes

Shortened notes on the social influence part of the psychology aqa course.

There is a bit in it that says "Asch Effect???" - i didn't quite understand this so left it blank for my teacher to explain to me and never got the chance to fill it in. I hope the rest will help with your revision though :)

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  • Created by: Aisling
  • Created on: 23-08-12 13:24
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3 Types of Conformity (Kelman)
Conformity: Form of Social Influence. Tendency for people to adopt behaviour, attitudes, values of
other members of a group.
1) Compliance
Going along with others to gain their approval/avoid their disapproval.
public compliance; little/no private attitude change
2) Internalisation
Acceptance of majorities point of view, publically & privately
becomes built into the personality
3) Identification
Accept influence as they want to establish a relationship with a group/person. Adopt
attitudes to fit in.
Has elements of both compliance and Internalisation
C ­ adopts to be accepted
I ­ accepts what they are adopting is right/true
Research into Majority Influence: Asch (1956)
To see whether people would stick to what they believed or conform to majority influence.
123 male American undergraduates were tested.
Showed a series of lines, asked to identify the line that was the
same as a `standard' line.
Always answered in the same order (real ppt second last or last)
Confederates instructed to give the same incorrect answer on
12/18 trials.
On the 12 critical trials ­ 36.8% of the responses made by the true ppts were incorrect; they
conformed to majority influence.
Why did people conform?
1) Distortion of perception: small number saw the lines the same way as the majority.
2) Distortion of judgement: doubted their accuracy therefore followed others.
3) Distortion of action: went along with others to avoid group disapproval, still believed there were
right privately.
Variations in Asch's study
Task Difficulty
In one variation, he made the line difference much smaller level of conformity increased.
Lucas et al: when exposed to maths problems, like Asch's study, high-self-efficacy ppts (more

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Shows self-efficacy important in conformity.
Size of the Majority
1/2 individuals = very little conformity
3 individuals = 30% conformity
Increases from 3 = did increase conformity but not substantially (indicates size important up to a
The Unanimity of the Majority
Even in unambiguous situations, there may be a strong group pressure to conform, especially if the
group is a unanimous majority.
Individual Difference
Eagly & Carli, meta-analysis, 145 studies
Women were more compliant.
Explained by differences in sex roles ­ women more interpersonally-orientated.…read more

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Asch Effect???
Conformity or Independence
2/3's stuck to own opinion despite faced by majority dif view.
Asch believed rather than showing people of be conformist, his study demonstrated a
commendable tendency to show independent behaviour.
- Only men; cannot be generalised
- Real word applications: conformity big problems in juries.
J High control over variables and therefore L Ethical issues: deception. The participants
establish a cause and effect relationship.…read more

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1) Task may have been more meaningful for one culture than the other
2) Cultures are not homogenous & differences between individualist and collectivist values
within different cultures have been established in other research.
Individual Difference:
Collectivist cultures more likely to yield to majority than individualistic.
Individualistic: behaviour determined by personal goals, if there is a conflict with `collective'
goals, personal goals take priority.
Collectivist: social behaviour goals shared with collective, most important.…read more

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Assumes that individuals are motivated to reduce conflict cause by minority influence.
Therefore examine minority's argument to understand why they do not agree with their
Majority influence: individuals less likely to analyse opposite argument, adjust own
attitudes in order to conform.
Minority influence: attention on content of argument rather than relationship between
them and the majority group ­ increases likeliness message will be internalised.
Evaluation of Conversion Theory:
Mackie (challenged Moscovici's explanation)
Claimed: majority promotes greater message processing.…read more

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The situation is ambiguous e.g. the right course of action is not clear.
- The situation is a crisis e.g. rapid action is required
- We believe others to be experts e.g. we believe others more likely to know what to do.
?? Fein et al (supports role of informational social influence)
Show how judgements of candidate performance in US presidential debates could be
influenced by the knowledge of others reaction.…read more

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To see if ordinary people will obey legitimate authority, even when told to injure an innocent
- 40 male ppts, paid $4.50
- 2 confederates, experimenor, learner
- Drew lots to become `teacher and learner' (ppts always ended up as teacher)
- Teacher shocks the learner for a wrong answer, up to 450V
- If teacher asks to stop, experimentor prods on.
65% ppts continued to 450V
All went to 300V
12.…read more

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When fake teachers refused to carry on, ppts did too, 4/40 carried on to last level.
- Ppts used defiance of other peers to stop themselves from causing further harm to victim.
Increasing teacher's discretion
Level of shock left to ppts discretion:
- 2.…read more

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Vast majority believed they were giving shocks, the victims distress was real.
- Hoffling et al: nurses phoned by `Dr. Smith' to give patient 20mg of a drug.
Hospital regulations specifically state, no order over phone & dosage was double tha
recommended.…read more

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Due to their commitment it became hard to go back on it.
- It is a method of persuasion also known as `foot-in-the-door'
Agentic Shift
- The state a person is in when he sees himself as an agent for carrying out someone else's
wishes; basically working for them.
- Milgram argued that people shift back and forth between the agentic state & an
autonomous state (taking responsibility for their own actions).…read more


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