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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
pressures to obey authority
The influence of individual differences on independent behaviour, including locus of control
Implications for social change of research into social influence
Exam hint: (Remember to traffic-light these topics to prioritise your revision)…read more

Page 3

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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)
June 2010 ­ Please see question at back of booklet
Sherif (1935) ­ a research study to demonstrate why people conform (informational social
influence)
The first major study of conformity was carried out by Muzafer…read more

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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 already learnt about conformity, whose work might you use
to support the idea of informational social influence?
Answer: _________________________…read more

Page 5

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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.…read more

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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 in their judgements. More often, however, they
experienced tension and doubt but managed to resist the pressure exerted by the unanimous
majority.…read more

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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
response.
Anxiety = This encourages conformity.…read more

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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.…read more

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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 give electric shocks to the "learner" every time the wrong answer was
given, and the shock intensity was increased each time. In fact, the apparatus was arranged so that
the learner never actually received any shocks, but the teacher did not realise this.…read more

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