Social Psychology Notes AS Level, AQA

This is my notes for the social influence topic in AS psychology, hope they are useful!

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  • Created on: 21-04-13 17:12
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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
Social Psychology
Social influence is the process whereby people directly or indirectly influence the
thoughts, feelings and actions of others.
Social influence can include obvious attempts by individuals to change the
attitudes and/or behaviours of others.
o Through persuasion, making
It can also include more subtle processes
that occur within groups and society.
o Conformity to the implied
standards (norms) or specific
group goals.
Social influence is a persuasive and
important part of everyday life.
Conformity yielding to group pressure
(aka majority influence)
o E.g. standing ovation, ordering a
coffee in a restaurant when
everyone else does.
Different types of conformity:
o Compliance ­publicly, but not
privately, going along with the
majority influence to gain
o Identification ­ public & private acceptance of majority influence in
order to gain group acceptance.
o Internalisation ­ public & private acceptance of majority influence,
due to adoption of the majority's belief system.
Explanation of conformity
o Normative influence of other people that leads us to conform in
order to liked and accepted by them.
This leads to public conformity COMPLIANCE.
o Informational influence where people assume the actions of other in
an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in situations.
This leads to private conformity IDENTIFICATION or
o Cognitive dissonance is the unpleasant feeling of anxiety created by
simultaneously holding two contradictory ideas.
Majority influence is a form of social influence where people adopt the
behaviours, attitudes and values of other members of a reference group.
Some conformity to majority influence is based on the desire to be liked
(normative influence), whilst others conform due to the desire to be right
(informational influence).
­ A study

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
y ­ Asch
Aim To investigate the extent to which individuals will conform to a
majority who give obviously wrong answers.
Procedur 123 American males student volunteers took part they thought
e it was a visual perception test.
Ps placed in groups with 7-9 confederates as the 2nd to last
Each person in the group was asked which of the 3 lines was the
same length as the test line.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
Sherif's Conformity & the autokinetic effect experiment (1935)
o Single point of light in dark room seems to move subjects are
unable to keep eyes perfectly still & in the dark there is no point of
o 1.) Ps asked to estimate how far they thought the light moved, then
tested them together in a group estimates in group converged
group norm close to average of estimates they gave singularly.
o 2.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
Real life example of obedience: After WWII psychologists focused their
attention on the holocaust where, under the Nazis, German citizens followed
orders that caused the murder of 6 million people, such as Jews, Gypsies and
the disabled.
al study of

Aim To see how far people would go in obeying an instruction involving
the harm of other people.
Procedur The 40 male participants, that volunteered were introduced to
e another participant, a confederate.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
Standard procedure 65% Baseline figure
Victim is silent 100% Highest rate of obedience
Study in run-down 48% Yale uni, where first held had some
office block effect in giving a sense of legitimacy
Victim in same room as 40% Increased proximity decreases
teacher obedience
Teacher forces victims 30% Proximity decreases obedience, but
hand onto shock plate 30% is still high
Experimenter not 20.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
We give up personal responsibility, the autonomous state (where we see
ourselves personally responsible for our actions) and transfer
responsibility onto the authority figure.
Personal responsibility
Anything detracting from the authority figure's power increases feeling of
personal responsibility.
o This is seen in Milgram's remote authority variation.
o More difficult to deny responsibility when you have to force the
learner to endure shocks.
Easier to disobey when you can see the effects of your behaviour.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
to believe their attitudes were identical to the norm. Those who had their
identity `stolen' resisted conformity pressures due to wanting to assort
Desire to maintain control
o Desire to control the majority of one's personal life event therefore
yielding to normative social influence hinders this.
o Group pressure may lead to a threat to one's personal freedom and
control, forced into being one of the crowd.
o People vary in the extent they want control.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
o People of low status in a group (such as newcomers) are motivated
to fit in, so are more likely to conform.
Other factors in independent behaviour against conformity:
Systematic processing
o People are less likely to obey if they can consider what they have
been ordered to do. Martin et al (2007) found that when Ps were
encouraged & allowed to consider the content of an unreasonable
order, they were less likely to obey.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
authority & power. Without this, levels of obedience were
indifferent to internally controlled people.
Authority was irrelevant in the lack of obedience to internal
Attributional style
o The meanings an individual attributes to people's behaviour & the
way they experience life events.
o Behaviour is said to be caused externally by the situation or
internally by dispositional factors like personality.
o Milgram's study had high obedience rates attributed to behaviour
being under external (situational) control.…read more

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Psychology Social Jessica Goodman
An individual exposed to an argument different to majority produces
To reduce conflict they examine the minority's argument to see why they
have different opinions to the majority.
Factors in minority influence:
o Size of minority
Spencer & Perrin (1998)
o Consistency of minority
Moscovici (1971)
Wood et al (1994) Meta analysis
o Confidence of minority
Nemeth (1973)
o Persuasiveness
Sufficiently convincing to persuade people to defect from the
majority.…read more


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