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Conforming Majority influence
Conformity Form of social influence that results from exposure to majority position and leads to
compliance, adopting behaviours attitudes & values of other group members.
Kelman (1958) proposed 3types:
1)Compliance - going along with others to gain approval with little/no private change.
2)Internalisation going along with others because you've accepted their view point both publicly and
3)Identification going along with others because you've accepted their view point but only because
you desire to be like them so is a mixture of both internalisation and compliance.
Asch (1956) - 123 American male students took part in `vision test' except all but 1 were confederates
and real purpose was to see how the lone pp would conform. Asked to look at 3 lines of different
lengths and identify which was original line. Order of answering always same (real pp last/2 nd to last)
and confed's instructed to give same wrong answer 12/18 times. On the 12 trials, 36% of responses
were incorrect, and ¼ never conformed on any answer. He conducted a control trial with no confed's
and found only 1% of responses were wrong. PP's gave 1/3 reasons for conforming when interviewed
: (1)Distortion of perception - saw lines as majority did (2)distortion of judgment doubted accuracy
or (3)distortion of action changed public behaviour but trusted original answer, majority did this.
He carried out many variations of original study:
Difficulty of task - Made difference between length smaller - levels of conformity increased
Size of majority Very little conformity when majority consisted of 1/2 people, however with 3
people it jumped to 30% but after that there was no substantial jump.
Unanimity of majority When lone pp was given confed who gave same answer as him/her,
conformity levels dropped significantly to 5.5%.…read more
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Child of it's time - Possible results are unique to one culture, especially as pp's
were all American men and research was conducted in 50's. This was an era of
McCarthyism (strong anti-communist feeling in America) when people were
scared to be different. In subsequent studies in England by Perin & Spencer out of
396 trials only one was conforming.
The Asch effect: Stable or unpredictable - Asch's methodology was modified by
Lalancette & Standing so test stimuli was more ambiguous however results
showered no conformity, so they concluded the effect was unpredictable.
Conformity or independence in 2/3's of results pp's stuck to their instinct so
Asch said this shows humans show independence.
Culture & conformity: Smith & Bond (1998) Meta Analysis of 133 studies
between 1951 & 1994 in 17 countries. Collectivist countries tended to show higher
conformity levels than individualist ones, and levels of conformity in US had
declined since Asch's study. However consistent with Asch's study conformity
rates were higher with larger majority sizes, a greater proportion of female pp's
and more ambiguous stimuli. However this is criticized as there are differences
within cultures as well as between cultures so generalisations can't be made.…read more
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Conforming Minority influence
Minority influence - form of social influence when people reject the established norms of
majority group and move to the position of minority.
Moscovici et al (1969) aimed to investigate that social influence occurs through internalisation
not just compliance. He argues the minority must be consistent with views to cause conflict in
majority group. He tested 32 groups of 6 women of which 2 were confed's. Showed 36 blue
slides although filters varied colour intensity. Confed's consistently answered that the slides
were green, then in another part they answered inconsistently and said 12 were blue and 24
were green. Overall the pp's agreed with minority on 8% of trials and 32% gave same answer as
minority on at least 1 of trials. However when confed's were inconsistent, conformity dropped
Wood et al (1994) found minority groups were most successful when they were consistent,
when conducting a meta analysis of 97 studies.
Conversion theory (Moscovici 1980) Assumes individuals are motivated to reduce conflict
caused by minority influence and therefore examine the argument closely however with
majority influence this isn't the case as they will simply adjust their opinion. As a result with
minority influence the attention is on content increasing likelihood of internalisation. However
this has been challenged and says when an individual is faced with majority position different
from their own, they will process it carefully to understand the difference.
Nemeth (2003) suggests social influence works so long as: 1)minorities actively promote
viewpoint and are consistent. 2) Minorities prevail. 3)viewpoint stimulates majority to become
better problem solvers.…read more
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Conforming to social roles
Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment:
Wanted to investigate how readily people conform to social roles.
He gathered mentally and physically healthy male university student participants were
divided randomly into 2 groups of prison officers and prisoners.
The `prisoners' were arrested at their homes and taken to a police station. From there they
were placed in a prison cell, the basement of Stanford University, and locked up for 24 hours a
day whilst the officers patrolled in 8 hour shifts.
On arrival the prisoners were stripped and sprayed with delousing spray and dressed in a
smock with an ID number on, which they would now be called. The guards issued with
sunglass, handcuffs, whistles and nightsticks.
The PPs were then left to own devices, monitored by cameras to see how the situation
developed. The officers appeared to relish their new roles. At first punishment included a loss
of privileges but over time they became more brutal, such as loss of sleep, solitary
confinement, loss of food. Prisoners were routinely woken up in the night and marched out
into the cell yard. Most prisoners obeyed.
One began a hunger strike. The other inmates rejected him as he drew attention to himself
and was causing trouble. The PPs assumed their roles rapidly. A `good' officer was tough,
aggressive and arrogant. Even the less aggressive guards soon conformed to this role.
Prisoners stuck to the rules. On the third day a prisoner was released with `acute emotional
disturbances'. Another got a psychosomatic rash. The experiment was intended to last 2
weeks, but was terminated after 6 days.
Lots of ethical issues, deception, mental and physical harm, but high ecological value.…read more
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Explanations of conforming
1)Normative social influence: Complying with a majorities view point but not changing
your opinion in private. Eg/ going to see a film and everyone says it was good, but you
didn't agree, but said you did anyway in public, but in private still don't like it. Cillessen
(2006) highlighted this occurs in bullying as pressure is put on victim by bully to conform.
2)Informational social influence: Internalising viewpoint both privately and publicly
because you agree with them. This is most likely when the situation is a crisis, ambiguous or
when we believe others to be experts. Eg/ 911, someone panics and see's everyone else
running, so decided they must do the same because it's the right thing to do. Fein et all
(2007) founds the importance of judgements of candidate performance in US debates when
pp's saw reactions of supposed pp's and shifted perception of performance.
3)Social impact theory: This explains why some people conform in certain situations and
- Number: the more people present the more influence they will have, however as each new
person is added, the impact decreases. Eg/ 1 light bulb in a dark room will have more impact
than if another 2 are added.
- Strength: the more important the person is, the more likely they will have an impact. Eg/ if
an old man asks a teenager to turn their music down they may say no but if the queen did
they'd be much more likely to do it straight away.
- Immediacy: more people present, the less influence they're going to have than if it was
just 1 person. Eg/ a lecture with 100 people will be less influential than a lecture with 10.…read more