Social psychology (Obedience and conformity

A word document with all the cases and key terms you need to know. I work at an A grade standard and got an A on unit one :)

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Types of conformity:
-COMPLIANCE- a person may agree in public but in private they may disagree with
the groups view point
-INTERNALISATION- a person agrees or believes what the group believes
because they have come to share the same view point. E.g. Vegetarianism.
Explanations of conformity:
-NORMATIVE INFLUENCE- someone conforms to fit in and gain approval
-INFORMATIONAL INFLUENCE- people conform because they are unsure of what
to do in a particular situation do look to others for guidance.
Asch- normative social influence
Aim: an experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group
could affect a person to conform.
Procedure: Asch used a lab experiment to study conformity, whereby 123 male students
from Swarthmore College in the USA participated in a `vision test'. Using the line judgment
task, Asch put a naive participant in a room with six confederates. The confederates had
agreed in advance what their responses would be when presented with the line task. The
real participant did not know this and was led to believe that the other seven participants
were also real participants like themselves. Each person in the room had to state aloud
which comparison line (A, B or C) was most like the target line. The answer was always
obvious. The real participant sat at the end of the row and gave his or her answer last. Asch
was interested to see if the real participant would conform to the majority view.
Results: Asch measured the number of times each participant conformed to the majority
view. On average, about one third (32%) of the participants who were placed in this
situation went along and conformed with the clearly incorrect majority on the critical trials.
Over the 12 critical trials about 75% of participants conformed at least once and 25% of
participant never conformed.
Conclusion: When they were interviewed after the experiment, most of them said that they
did not really believe their conforming answers, but had gone along with the group for fear
of being ridiculed or thought "peculiar". A few of them said that they really did believe the
group's answers were correct.
Apparently, people conform for two main reasons: because they want to fit in with the
group (normative influence) and because they believe the group is better informed than
they are (informational influence.
Variations of the Asch study:
Mode of response- when Ps had to answer in private on paper, conformity levels dropped

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Gaining a partner- when one of the confederates said the right answer then the
conformity levels dropped to 8.7%
Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment
Aim: To investigate how readily people would conform to the roles of guard and prisoner in
a role-playing exercise that simulated prison life.
Procedure: Zimbardo used a lab experiment to study conformity. To study the roles people
play in prison situations, Zimbardo converted a basement of the Stanford University
psychology building into a mock prison.…read more

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BBC- Haslam and Reicher prison study
This was similar to Zimbardo study. The role of superintendent was independent of the
Aim: to see if the guards would abuse their positions as guards and whether the prisoners
would rebel or succumb to the pressure.
Findings: guards were uncomfortable about exercising their power and became divided
and powerless. Yet the prisoners were unified and powerful.…read more

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AGENCY THEORY- when we obey we experience an agentic shift. We move from an autonomous
state to the agentic state.
PERSONALITY FACTORS- certain personalities may lead someone to obey more than the normal
person. Such as an authoritarian personality.…read more

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Milgram's study on obedience.
Aim: Milgram (1963) was interested in researching how far people would go in obeying an
instruction if it involved harming another person. Stanley Milgram was interested in how
easily ordinary people could be influenced into committing atrocities for example, Germans
in WWII.
Procedure: Volunteers were recruited for a lab experiment investigating "learning" and
Participants were 40 males, aged between 20 and 50, whose jobs ranged from unskilled to
professional.…read more

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Resisting obedience
Milgram's study...
o situational factors- the proximity of the authority figure.
o personal characteristics- one woman didn't obey because it reminded her of a
concentration camp
o internal locus of control- people with this personality tend to be less obedient.
Gamson's study
Aim: To understand whether or not participants would rebel in a situation against an unjust
Procedure: Participants were asked to attend a group discussion.…read more

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Locus of control
Twenge et al (2004)
Twenge et al found that Americans are becoming increasingly external LOC. Between
1960 and 2002 students scored increasingly higher scores on external LOC. The
researchers believe this to be bad! High external LOC is correlated with poor school
achievement, depression and less self-control. They believe social trends such as
increased rate of divorce, increased suicide rates and mental illness could all be related to
a population with an increased external LOC.…read more

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Moscovic et al- the blue green study.
Aim: To investigate the effects of a consistent minority on a majority. Moscovici (1969)
conducted a re-run of Asch's experiment, but in reverse. Instead of one subject amongst a
majority of confederates, he placed two confederates together with four genuine
participants. The participants were first given eye tests to ensure they were not color-blind.
Procedure: They were then placed in a group consisting of four participants and two
confederates.…read more


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