Unit 2 social psychology revision

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Chapter 2 ­ Social Influence
This is all around us in our lives, through advertisements and conversations. Sometimes we
are even unaware that it is occurring for example in conforming to social norms of society.
In this chapter we look at the reasons why people conform and why people obey.
Definition of Conformity
Conformity is the process of yielding to the majority influence. Most people like to think of
themselves as individuals, however they still conform to the majority i.e. society. There are two types
of social norms. Explicit rules are rules like the law, they are openly defined and there are
consequences for breaking them. However implicit rules are unspoken rules but they well
understood norms within the UK for example not standing to close to someone. In 1958 Kelman
identified three types of responses to social influence;
Compliance: This is publically conforming to the behaviour or views of others in a group, but
privately maintaining one's own views, for example you might be with a group who support one
particular football team, so you will support them too, even if you don't.
Identification: This is adopting the views, values and behaviour of a group both publically and
privately because you value membership in that group. However the new attitudes and behaviours
are often temporary and are not maintained on leaving the group. An example of this is when
students leave for university the often adapt to new behaviours and styles, but when they graduate
they will conform to the outside world.
Internalisation: this is a conversion or true change of private views to match those of the group. This
is different from identification as the views that you adapt are maintained when you have left the
group, the new attitudes and behaviours have become a part of your value system, for example
converting to a religious faith that stays with you outside a church.
Why do People Conform?
Deutsch and Gerard postulated the idea of a duel process model in 1955. There are two main types
of social influence that lead to people to conform. Normative social influence is based on our
desire to be liked. We conform because we thin others will approve of and accept us. The result of
this is compliance, and it normally occurs when the group is very important to us and we spend a lot
of time with it.
Informative social influence is based on our desire to be right we look at others who we believe
are correct, to give us information about how to behave if we are unsure of it, especially in
ambiguous or subjective situations. However it was discovered that it can also be used in an
emergency, when we look to others of how to respond or when we are in the presence of someone
with known knowledge, for example the doctor. It can be particularly strong when moving from one
group to another; this can be portrayed in the study of Sheriff (1935). The result of informative social
influence can lead to internalisation or identification.

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The study of Asch
In 1951 Asch was one of the first psychologists to investigate social influence and why people tend
to obey, would participants still conform if they were actively placed in a normative situation;
Perrin and Spenser repeated the study of Asch using 33 male participants who studied `black and
white subjects' such as chemistry, maths and engineering. They found that only 1/396 trials
conformed. The conclusion is that cultural changes over 30 years mean that there is now a reduction
in conformity.…read more

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Zimbardo asked participants to act as if it was a real life situation. Zimbardo wanted to find out
if the brutal reports of prison guards harming prisoners was due to a sadistic personality
(dispositional explanation) or to do with the prison environment (a situational experiment)
Obedience to Authority
Obedience is the result of social influence where somebody acts in response to a direct order from
an authority figure. It is assumed that without such order the person would not have acted in this way.…read more

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Throughout history several horrific events of obedience have occurred. For example in world war
two, the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda. What Milgram wanted to find
out is what induces people to obey their leader's orders to torture and kill innocent human beings?
He proposed that it was due to normative human behaviour and conducted one of the most
controversial experiments in history.…read more

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There was a lack of informed
consent as the participants did not know what the true purpose of the study was. Mandel (1998)
criticized Milgram by saying applying the findings to a simple experiment and portrays them with the
holocaust was too oversimplified and misleading.…read more

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Gradual Commitment The gradual way in which PP's became sucked into giving a greater
level of shocks is an important feature.…read more

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Find social support ­ in any situation, finding an ally or several allies will build confidence and
aid resistance as we no longer face a unanimous majority. When PP's received social support
from an ally is Asch's study conformity levels dropped to 8.7%
Resisting Pressures to obey authority
Just as people resist pressures to conform to the norms of the majority, so also people sometimes
resist pressures to obey.…read more

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Level one Preconvention Morality Children and criminals
Punishment and personal interest
Level Two Conventional Most average People
Expectations of others
Laws of Society
Level Three Post Conventional
Universal Ethical Principles Jesus Christ
Locus of Control: This was devised by Rotter in 1966. Different people's beliefs and expectations
control different events in their lives. There are two different extremes, people with an internal
locus of control believes what happens to you is a consequence of your own behaviour.…read more

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Foot in the Door This relies on informational techniques and is used by lots of sales
people and charities.…read more


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