Social Psychology Notes

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Bonnie Brooks
Social Psychology
Conformity ­ occurs when people adopt the behaviour, attitudes or beliefs of the majority after being exposed to
their values or behaviours.
Types of conformity
Compliance ­ person does not necessarily agree with them. Effect of conformity does not stay when group
pressure is taken away. Not permanent.Likely to occur due to normative social influence.
Internalisation ­ This occurs when the person begins to believe in the group opinions. Likely to be due to
informational social influence. Most permanent type of conformity. Public and personal behaviour changes.
Explanations of conformity
Informational social influence ­ (the need to be right). Occurs when there is no correct and obvious answer. Likely
to lead to internalisation.
Supported by variations of Asch's study
Asch found that when task was made more difficult, conforming responses increased.
As size of group remained the same, it implies the cause was the difficulty of the task.
Normative social influence ­ (the need to be liked) occurs when we want to be liked by the group, accept by the
group and to avoid embarrassment. We will go along with the the consensus, leading to compliance.
Supported by Asch's original study
Task was so easy that when asked individually participants got it right each time. There was no need for
informational social influence. However, when placed in a group, participants conformed at least once
on 32% of the critical trials.
Also supported by variations of Asch's study
When Asch allowed participants to give responses privately, conformity also decreased.
It is public nature of responding rather than difficulty of questions.
Asch's line study
Used American males
Naïve participants was placed in a group within 6 confederates
Placed second to last
Confederates gave unanimous wrong answer 12/18 trials
On 32% of the critical trials, participants conformed at least once
74% of participants conformed at least once
13/50 participants who didn't conform expressed tension and doubt
Androcentric sample ­ only males. Findings may not generalise to women.
Ethnocentric sample ­ only Americans. America is an individualistic society, and findings may not
generalise to collectivist cultures. Collectivist cultures may be more conforming as they are more
focused on the group.
Lacks ecological validity ­ task is artificial and not important to participants belief systems.

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Bonnie Brooks
McCarthyism ­ findings may be reflective of conservative society. Another study in 1970s used science
and engineering students and found only 1/396 conforming responses.
Unethical ­ participants were deceived (told study was about line perception), participants were not
protected from harm (may have experienced stress).
Obedience ­ behaving as instructed. Usually in response to an individual rather than group pressure, and
normally takes place in a hierarchy.…read more

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All participants experienced same agentic shift, not all obeyed
Milgram's shock study (AO1)
Used 40 American males
Study carried out at Yale University
Participants told investigating how punishment affected memory
Told to administer increasing shocks, when wrong answer was given.
Shocks started at 15v
Rose in 15v increments until it gets to 450v
180v = learner shouts that he can bear no more pain
315v = didn't answer any more questions.
If participants hesitated, experimenter gave prods.…read more

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Bonnie Brooks
o 3 people majority = 32% (optimum)
Resisting obedience
Reduction in authority
o Seedy office = 48%
o No white coat = 20%
Proximity of authority
o Experimenter different room = 20%
Reduction in allies
o Participant given support by 2 allies = 10%
Locus of control
Refers to a person's belief in the amount of control they have over events in their lives
High internals perceives themselves as being in control over their behaviour -> therefore more likely to
take responsibility
Having…read more

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o E.g.…read more


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