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Social Influence

Social influence
Social influence in everyday life

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Topics include:
Social influence:

Types of conformity, including internalisation and compliance

Explanations of why people conform, including informational and normative social influence

Obedience, including Milgram's work and explanations of why people obey

Social influence in everyday life:

Explanations of independent behaviour, including how people resist pressures to conform and

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How might this be used in
the exam?
Possible exam questions

January 2009 ­ Please see question at back of booklet

January 2010 ­
Explain what is meant by internalisation in the context of conformity (2 marks)
Explain what is meant by compliance in the context of conformity (2 marks)…

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movement of the light continued to reflect the influence of the group.

There are two reasons why people are likely to conform;

Normative social influence (NSI) ­ the need to be liked (normal)
Informational social influence (ISI) ­ the need to be right (information!)

Thinking back to what we have…

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How might this be used in the exam?
Possible exam questions

June 2009 ­ It is Ani's first day in a new job and he spends a lot of time watching to see what his
colleagues are doing, so that he will fit in with them and be liked. Explain…

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Participants conformed to the unanimous incorrect answer on 32% of the critical trials. This might
not strike you as a very high figure but remember the correct answer was always obvious. 74% of
participants conformed at least once. 26% of participants never conformed. Some of these
`independent' participants were confident…

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There were features of both Sherif's and Asch's research that
were artificial:

Demand characteristics = Participants behave in certain ways
because features of the experiment `demand' a typical

Anxiety = This encourages conformity. Is it ethically right to cause anxiety in a participant?

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Paid volunteers = Participants may feel they have entered into a social contract and should obey
norms about behaviour in experiment.

Experiments are social situations = In Asch's study the participants expressed how much like
outsiders they felt by dissenting. Belonging to a group is more important than correctness.


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participant was not told the true details of the research. The truth was that the other participant was
in fact a confederate of the experimenter, and the "experimenter" was also a confederate. The true
participant always ended up being given the role of the "teacher".

The "teacher" was told to…


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