Social Psychology PSYA2

notes on social psychology- unit 2 aqa a

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  • Created on: 04-06-13 10:30
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Social Psychology
Social psychology studies how people's thoughts, feeling and behaviour are affected by the
presence of others (how we affect and are affected by others.)
CONFORMITY- yielding to group pressure (imaginary and physical pressure)
Types of conformity
-Compliance: Yielding to group pressure. Going along with majority behaviour without agreeing with
it to avoid disapproval/to fit in (swearing or smoking to impress a group of people)
-Internalisation: Changes attitudes too. You believe something and change your view to agree with
it (e.g. Religion and Vegetarianism.)
3 main studies (know 2)
Asch `55
Jenness `32
Sheriff `35
Informational Social Influence
The result of wanting to be right i.e. looking to others for the right answers and conforming to their
opinions. Deutsch and Gerard '55 found that it is based on social comparison and the natural human
desire to be right. This tends to result in the individual conforming in both behaviour and attitude
(internalisation.) It is most likely to occur in a crisis or in an ambiguous situation.
-Wittenbrink and Henly '96- found that white ppts that were exposed to negative information about
African Americans that they thought was the view of the majority, increased their prejudice scores.
Normative Social Influence
The result of wanting to be liked and be accepted as part of a group by following its norms. It is
conformity in action alone (compliance.) Deutsch and Gerard '55 said that humans are a social species
and have a strong desire to be accepted and a fear of rejection. This makes it difficult for them to
deviate from the majority because of the risk of rejection.
-Perrin and Spencer '81- investigated unemployed Black youths from a racially tense part of London
and they were more likely to conform to a majority made up of other black youths when the
experimenter was white (want to be accepted by their own kind.)
OBEDIENCE- is a type of social influence which causes a person to act in response to an order given
by another person. The person who gives the order usually has power or authority
Obedience occurs when you are told to do something whereas conformity is going along with others.
Milgram (and variations)

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Hofling/ Sheridan and King
Explanations for obedience
Gradual Commitment- Agreeing to something gradually, in small steps, where it's harder to refuse
the next request. Also known as the foot-in-the-door effect
Milgram Link- as ppts have already given lower level shocks, it becomes hard to resist the
experiment's requirements- committed themselves, can't stop once you've started (increments of
15 volts meant it started with reasonable voltages to unreasonable- if you immediately said 480
volts people would not obey.…read more

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Lacks temporal validity as age is not always applicable (politics questions for 16 year olds)
Resistance to conformity
Role of Allies- in Asch's study, if the naïve ppt heard a dissenter disagreeing with the majority wrong
answer on critical trials, conformity dropped sharply.…read more

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E.g. suffragettes- held constant rallies, consistent in their arguments- led to the snowball effect
Behavioural styles of influential minorities
Consistency- consistent in opposition
Not dogmatic- demonstrate a degree of flexibility
Be acting from principle- not out of self interest
Have made sacrifices in order to maintain their position
Attention grabbing
Why do people yield to minority influence?
The snowball effect- when a minority succeeds in attracting enough supporters, it is transformed into
the new majority.…read more

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MINORITY INFLUENCE doesn't necessarily lead to social change- may only stimulate the majority to
consider social change (think more creatively.)
How social influence research helps us to understand social change
Obedience- If someone wants to achieve social change by making people obey, it will be more
successful if they use the gradual commitment technique e.g.…read more


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