Social Influence Summary Guide

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  • Created on: 25-11-14 09:59
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Social influence: The influence of a group or individual to change the attitudes or behaviours of
Conformity: Yielding to group pressures which lead to a change in a person's attitudes and/or
Internalisation: When you go along with others because you have accepted their point of view as
your own.
Conforming publicly and privately = changing behaviours and attitudes.
Conforming publicly but not privately = changing behaviours but not attitudes.
Compliance: When you go along with others to gain their approval or to avoid their disapproval.
Research by Sherif in an Ambiguous Situation...
Aim = to investigate the effect of majority social influence in an ambiguous situation.
Participants were individually led into a dark room and instructed to look at a small point
of light in the corner of the room.
Participants were asked to estimate how far and in what direction they thought the light
moved; this was done several times. However the light did not actually move; this is called
the auto-kinetic effect.
Participants were placed into groups of 3 after several days. In their group they were
asked to estimate how much the light moved and in what direction.
It was found that the individual judgements were replaced by a second judgement that
was much closer to those given by the other members of the group.
It was concluded that when making judgements in a group and in an ambiguous situation
we are influenced by the opinions of others and tend to conform to their attitudes and
Evaluation of Research...
Well controlled lab experiment ­ extraneous variables are controlled.
Debriefing to overcome the issue of deception and thereby informing the participants of the
full aims and intentions of the study and reducing the chance of any negative effects upon them.

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Lack of ecological validity ­ in an artificial environment so results can't be generalised to real
Deception ­ the participants weren't aware that the light wasn't actually moving.
Research by Asch in an Unambiguous Situation...
123 male participants who were required to look at a line and match its length to another
set of lines.
Only one genuine participant was used at a time who sat in the 5th position, after the
confederates who lied about their answers.…read more

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A non-unanimous majority (when 1 confederate have the correct answer) ­ Asch found
that conformity levels dropped to 5% when the participant had one supportive
confederate who did not conform and gave the correct answer.
Being from an individualistic culture ­ Replications of Asch's research has found that
conformity levels are lower in countries that adopt an individualistic culture. For instance
in Asch's original research in the US conformity levels were 37% and in Belgium it was
14%.…read more

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Sherif's study also supports this.
Obedience = a type of social influence whereby somebody acts in response to a direct order from
a figure perceived to be in authority.
Research by Milgram...
Aim = to investigate the extent to which `normal' members of the public would obey an
unjust order from an authority figure to inflict pain and discomfort in another. It was
based on the Nazis to see whether anyone would do what the Nazis did.…read more

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Variations of Milgram's study...
Milgram carried out several variations of his original experiment and identified two main ways in
which obedience to authority could be reduced.
Making the learners' suffering more visible to Reducing the authority or influence of the
the teacher... experimenter...
66% of participants were obedient when the 48% of participants were obedient when the
learner was not seen or heard. experiment took place in a rundown office
block.…read more

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Society teaches us that if a figure has legitimate authority then it is assumed they have the power
and right to give orders and that these orders should be obeyed without question. Obedience
therefore occurs because those obeying trust the legitimate authority of the authority figure.
Example In Bickman's study a confederate posed as a guard which was an authority figure.
Participants were more likely to obey the guard than the civilian or milkman.…read more

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Explanations of Independent Behaviour...
Some explanations can only explain resistance to obedience whilst others only explain resistance
to conformity and others can explain both.
Situational Factors...
This refers to the level of authority a figure is perceived to have. Research shows that the lower
the level of perceived authority the lower the likelihood of obedience.
Example In a variation of Milgram's study there was only 20% obedience when the
experimenter didn't wear a lab coat.…read more

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Achievement focused. Low self esteem.
Those from an individualistic Those from a collectivist
culture are most likely to have culture are most likely to have
an internal locus of control. an external locus of control.
Males are most likely to have an Females are most likely to
internal locus of control. have an external locus of
Positive In a replication of Milgram's In a replication of Milgram's
commentary study it was found that those study it was found that those
...…read more

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In the consistent condition 8% of participants conformed to the minority.
In the in-consistent condition only 1% of participants conformed.
In the control condition the number of participants who said green was minor.
It was concluded that a minority can influence a majority if they are consistent in their
Evaluation of Research...
High test-retest reliability as it was a highly controlled lab experiment with a standardised
procedure that can easily be repeated.
Implications ­ a minority influence must be consistent eg.…read more

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A Historical Example in 1903 the majority view was that women should not be given the right to
vote. In response to this the Suffragettes were formed to instigate social change. To do this they
adopted many of the behavioural characteristics needed:
Commitment ­ Emily Davison made a sacrifice for the movement by throwing herself in front of
the King's horse.…read more


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