Independent Behaviour

Reasons for independent behaviour, inc locus of control. Resisting conformity and obedience.

The effect of social influence research on social change, and the role of the minority.

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  • Created by: ava.scott
  • Created on: 27-04-14 14:50

Individual Differences

These are personal factors that mean people respond to situtaions in different ways. Examples are gender, personality, education and culture.

In Milgram's study, obedience always fell short of 100%, so there must be another factor other than purely the situtaion that effects obedience.

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Personality- Locus of Control

Internal Locus of Control-

People who exhibit high internal locus of control believe they hold their own fate, and it is a consequence of their own behaviour. They believe they can succeed in difficult situtaions.

External Locus of Control-

These people believe they are victim to external happenings such as luck. They believe they are relatively helpless in difficult situations.

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Locus of Control research

Holland- used Milgrams electric shock method to investigate the effect of locus of control and obedience, but found no link.

Blass- reanalysed Hollands data and found those with an internal locus of control were more likely to disobey than external locus of control. This was even more significant when they thought they were being manipulated by the researcher.

Shurz- used Austrian participants to give increasingly painful bursts of ultrasound to a learner. There was no link found in obedience, and among 80% of participants went all the way to maximum ultrasound. However, participants with an internal locus of control took more responsibility for their actions than external ones.

Blass concluded that the research doesn't show significant prood that there is a link between locus of control and independent behaviour. However, there is tentative evidence that internal locus of control makes you more able to resist social influence.

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Resisting pressures of conformity


The idea of individuality beinga good thing is especially prominent in Western societies. This is shown by Snyder and Fromkin's study of 10,000 american students. When told then had a similar view to the other 10,000 students, they were more likely to resist conformity in later tests, than those who had been told they had a very different view.

Maintain control-

People who have a desire for control in their lives are less likely to conform, if this control is threatened. This is shown by Burger's experiement, in which people who deisred control reacted with hostility to someone offering help with a puzzle.

Prior public commitment to an opinion

People who had previously made a commitment to an opinion in public, are less likely to be swayed in this opinion.

social support and time

When people are pressured to make a decision they are more likely to conform.

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Resisting pressures to obey

Feeling responsible or empathetic-

Milgrams study showed how when people were more aware of the consequences of their actions, they were less likely to obey.

disobedient role models-

In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white person, and therefore encouraged thousands of other black people to disobey. Milgrams study also showed how disobedience increased when anotehr teacher refused to go on.

questioning authority-

When people question the legitimacy of the authority figure, obedience drops e.g. seedy office.

reactance- when people are so oppressed they do the exact opposite to what they're told e.g. libyan uprisings.

time for discussion-  rank and jacobson showed how nurses were less likely to obey when given a chance to confer with colleagues.

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Social Change and role of minority

Social Change= occurrence when a whole society adopts a belief or way of behaving with then becomes normal. The minority view challenges the majority, until the majority takes on new belief.


The Snowball Effect

The more the minority group grows the more influential it becomes. Its influence accelerates and more and more majority join the movement.

Social Cryptoamnesia

The majority group takes on the beliefs of the minority but forget where they came from or deliberately dissociate themselves.

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A example of Social Change- the Suffragettes

  • In the early 20th century a minority group of women resisted conformity and disobeyed the law to fight for the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
  • Emmeline Pankhurst was educated in Paris and married a barrister who supported her views. She and her sisters did not accept the legitimacy of a government that didn't let them vote.
  • Their provocative campaigns lead to being arrested and imprisoned.
  • Womans suffrage had been achieved in New Zealand anyway- the Pankhursts didn't see why it couldn't happen here. Women over 30 were allowed to vote in 1918, and over 21 in 1928. Full equal pay and sex disicimnation laws were voted in the 70's.

Snowball effect- more and more people joined the movement, and so parliament became under more pressure to vote for womens suffrage.

Social Cryptoamnesia- people began to believe that votes for women was right, but disscoiated the idea from the controversial movement of the womens suffrage.

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Social Change: Majorities and Minorities


Minorities achieve influence through information social influence, changing peoples views both publicy and privately. Their aim is conversion and internalisation, not compliance.

Majorities achieve influence by normative social influence; where people are more concerned with fitting in than the issue itself. This leads to compliance, in which private views are different to public views.

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Influential Minorities characteristics

Moscovici though that these two characteristics were key to influence;

Consistency: They must be consistent in their opposition including, clarity, coherence and certainty.

Not Dogmatic: Minorities should not be rigid in their beliefs, and show flexibility within their arguments.

Hogg and Vaughan thought these four were key:

  • Acting from principle
  • Making sacrifices
  • Similar demographics to majority
  • Views that are consistent with social trends


  • intra-individual: when a person maintains a consistent position over time e.g. politicians
  • inter-individual: when there is agreement among members of the minority.
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Moscovici's study of consistency


Six participants asked to identify colours of 36 slides of varying shades of blue. They all had to announce the colour they thought it was at the same time.

2 participants/confederates said the slides were green. In one condition, they said the slides were green every time, and in the second condition, they said they were green 24/36 times.


In the first condition, 8.4% of participants said the slides were green, and 32% said atleast one slide was green.

In the second condition only 1.3% of particopants said the slides were green.


Consistency is key to influencing people's views. However, it won't change them instantly.

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