Explanations of independent behaviour

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  • Created on: 17-12-15 16:27

Resisting pressures to conform

Insights from Asch's study - the role of allies 

In one variation, Asch showed how the intro of a dissident gave social support to an individual and caused conformity rates to plummet. This can be explained in term of informational social influence. The social support provided by a fellow dissenter provides the individual with an independent assessment of reality that makes them feel more confident in thier own desicison and rejecting the majority position. 

Allen and Levine - there were three conditions in an Asch type task. In one, the supporter had extremely poor vision (wore glasses with thick lenses - invalid social support) and in the second the supporter had normal vission (valid social support). Both conditions were sufficient to reduce  the amount of conformity, compared to a condition where there was no support for the lone participant. However, the valid social supporter had much more impact, showing that an ally is helpful in resisting conformity, but more so if they are percieved as offering valid social support. 

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People may be more willing to maintain their independence if they have to make moral rather than physical judgements. most knowledge on conformity comes from research using judgements about physical reality. In such situations the psychological costs associated with abandoning a personal position would be relatively minor compared to the interpersonal benefits achieved as a consequence of fitting in with the rest of the group. But if the task involves judgements with a moral dimension the cost to one's personal integrity may be considerably higher. Hornsey et al, found remarkably little movement towards the majority on attitudes that had moral significance for the individual even when this involved public behaviours.

Individual differences - Griskevicius et al, discovered a gender difference in non-conformity. when men and women are seeking a partner, women are more likely to conform to what they think others want whereas men tend to become more nonconformist. This was particulary true when nonconformity made them appear more unique. This fits with an evolutionary explanation of male behaviour when seeking romantic partners, noncoformity can be a successful stratergy because it offers something different to prospective partners. 

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Resisting pressures to obey

Insights from Milgram's studies - Milgram investigated the situational conditions under which people felt able to defy the orders of an authoritive figure. When the study was moved away from the prestigioussettings of Yale university to a downtown office, more people felt able to resist authority. This tells us that status is a key factor in obedience. Resistance was also increased when the victim could be seen or when other confederates were present. Thus being made aware of the effects of your actions and having social support are means of increasing resistance. 

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Lawrence Kohlberg presented a group of Milgram's volunteers with a set of imaginary moral dilemmas. These dilemmas determined why they behaved this way. He found that those who based their dicisions on more general moral principle were more difiant in the Milgram study, while most of those at a more restricted level of moral development obey the experiementer completely.

Individual difference - As part of research Milgram noted the background characteristics of thos taking part in order to find out which characterisyics were consistent with higher or lower obedience. Age, marital status, occupation and military experinece had little influence of the person's ability to resist the commands of the experiementer. However, educational history and religious performance did. less educated PPs were less likely to resist the experimenter's commands that those with at least a collge degree. Roman Catholic PPs were more lkely to obey the experimenter than were Protestant PPs. 

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Locus of control

Locus of control refers to a peron's perception of personal control over their own behaviour. It is measured along a dimension of 'high internal' to 'high external'. High internals percieve themselves as having a great deal of person control over their behvaiour therefore are more likely to take personal responsibility for it. On the other hand, high external percieve their behaviours as being caused more by external influences or luck. 

Internal and external locus of control - research has uncovered a number of characteristics of internals and externals that have relvenance for the study of independent behaviour.

  • High internals are active seekers of information that is useful to them and so are less likely to rely on the opinions of others. 
  • High internals tend to be more achivementt-oriented and consequently are more likely to become leaders and entrepreneurs. 
  • High internals are better able to resist coercion from others
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Are recent meta-analysis by Twenge et al found that young Americans increasingly belive that their lives are conrtolled by external forces rather than their own behaviour. In the studies used in this meta-anlysis, the researchers found that locus of control scores had become substantially more external in student and child samples between 1960-2202. Twenge suggests that the implications of this finding are almost uniformly negative, as externality is correlated with poor school achievemnet, decreased self-control and depression. Since 19602, most Western countries have seen dramatic social changes, including a rise indivorse rates, a rise in incidence of crime and even suicide. Twenge et al suggests that the increases in all of these social factors has seen a corresponding increase in externality as many young people see many aspects of their lives as beyound their control. 

Individual difference - Rotter argues that people high in internality rely more on their own actions and exhibit greater initiative, making them more successful. Linz Semykina used survey data collected from 2600 Russian employees. The found significant gender differences, with men being more likely to exhibit an internal locus of control and a need for challenge. this is opposite for women as they are more likley to show an external locus of control and a need for affiliation. Although personlaity played to part in the earnings of men, it did for women with internal being the higher wage earners. 

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Minority influence and social change

The role of minority influence - Moscovici believed that majority influence was not the only way in which groups exerted pressure on individuals. Without an outspoken minority advocating a different way of doing things we would have no innvoation or social change. His explanation is based on the idea that if an individual is exposed to a persuasive argument under certain conditions, they may change their own views to match those of the minority. Moscovici referred to this pross as conversion, a necessary perequisitive for social change. 

Conditions necessary for social change through minority influence 

Drawing attention to an issue - Being expsoed to the views of a minority draws our attention to the issue they are addressing. If their views are different to the ones we hold then this creates a conflict that we are motivated to reduce.

Consistency - research has established that minorities tend to be more influential in bringing about social change when they express their arguments consistently. If members of a minority are consistent in their views and express this position consistently over time then they are taken more seriously. Wood et al, carried out a meta-analysis of 97 studies of minority influence, and found that minorities who were percieved as being especially consistent in their positions were particulary influential. 

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Conditions necessary for social change through min

The role of conflict - sometimes we cannot simply dismiss a minority as odd or abnormal and so the conflict remains. Because of this we find oursleves examining their arguements more closely. This doesnt necessarily result in a move towards the minority position, but it means that we think more deeply about the issue being challenged. It may ultimately change our behvaiour towards the issue and as this behaviour spreads across other people, social change ensues. More and more people change their opinion to that of the miniority and this loosens the pressure  to confrom to the majority position. 

The argumentation principle - this states that if there are risks involved in putting forward a particular point of view, then those who express those views are taken more seriously by others. Becuase members of the minority apear willing to suffer for their views the impact of their position on other group members is increased or argumented. As a result they are more likely to be influential in bringing about social change. By taking up a position opposing the majority, minorities may be subjected to abuse bith publically and through the media and in some conditions may risk imprisonment or even death. 

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Evidence for the power of minority influence in social change - The success of the suffragetes in changing the views of the majority and bringing about social change can be attributed to the principles of minority influence.

Drawing attention to an issue - the suffragetes used a variety of educational, political and occasionally militant tactics to draw attention to the fact that women were denied the same political rights as men.

The role of conflict - having been exposed to the views of the suffragettes, members of the majority group would then experience a conflict because the suffragetes were advovating something quite different. Although some dismissed the suffragettes as troublemakers, others dealt with this conflict by moving towards the suffragettes position.

Consistency - they were consistent in expressing their views, regardless of the attitudes of those around them. Their fight for the vote continued for 15 years, even when imprisoned for civil disobedience, their protests continued in jail.

The argumentation principle - the fact that the suffragettes were willing to suffer to make their point, risking imprisonment or even death from hunger strike meant that they were taken seriously.  

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Minority influence doesnt necessarily lead to social change 

The tendency of most people to go along with the crowd and simply maintain the status quo is pherhaps why social change happens so slowly. Minorities are in a disadvatanged position of not only lacking social power but also being seen as different in the eyes of the majority. Majority members tend to avoid agreeing with a deviant minority simply because they dont want to be viewed as deviant themselves. The influence of minority therefore is frequently more latent rather than leading directly to social change. 

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