Interpersonal and Group Processes


Why Compliance Happens: Reciprocity & Liking


  • Unwritten rule that obliges us to repay others for what we have received from them, even if we didn't ask for it or want it
  • E.g. buying a product after receiving a free sample
  • Door-in-the-face technique: used in sales, start with an unreasonably large request, wait to be rejected, then lower the request
  • People feel obliged to accept the lower offer
  • Cialdini - nearly three times more people complied when door-in-the-face technique was used compared to a control condition


  • Physical attractiveness
  • Similarity between yourself and the person making the request
  • Familiarity - recognise them
  • E.g. celebrity product endorsement
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Why Compliance Happens: Consistency, Commitment &


  • Foot-in-the-door technique - used in sales, start with a small request, wait to be accepted, then ask for an additional larger request
  • E.g. free samples
  • Freenman & Fraser - 76% complied to displaying the same small and large sign compared to 17% who complied to displaying the large sign


  • Pressure to follow through - related to consistency 
  • Low-balling technique - have people commit to a course of action, then increase the request
  • E.g. agreeing to study, then finding out what time it starts


  • Compliance = more likely when requested by someone with perceived authority
  • E.g. police, teachers
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  • Change in behaviour to match the response or actions of others

Why People Conform?

  • Informational influence - believe that others understand the situation better than we do, e.g. which fork to use first in a fancy restaurant
  • Normative influence - conformity in order to be liked and accepted by others, e.g. smoking because peers do
  • Referent informational influence - identify as a group member by following the norms of the group, e.g. becoming a vegetarian because you are against the treatment of farm animals


  • Investigated by Sherif 
  • Found that norms were created and later used as a basis for decision making - frame of reference
  • Asch's line study
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Social Faciliation & Social Inhibition

  • Facilitation = improved task performance in presence of others; inhibition = decreased task performance
  • Whether people perform better alone or in a group
  • Zajonc cockroach study - found having an audience for a simple task improved performance, but worsened performance for a complex task
  • Presence of others increases arousal, strengthening dominant responses, which enhances easy behaviour but impairs difficult behaviour
  • Also influenced by others as a distraction and evaluation apprehension

Social Loafing

  • Loss of motivation when in a group; work less than they would do individually
  • Latane, Williams and Harkins headphone study - found that Ps made less nois when they thought others were making noise
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Realistic Conflict Theory


  • Studied groups of boys at a summer camp randomly split into cabins
  • Series of competitions - resulted in intergroup conflict
  • Experimenters then manipulated events that affected both groups, e.g. delivery truck breaks down
  • Required mutual effort - resulted in intergroup cooperation
  • Mutually exclusive goals = increase in intergroup conflict
  • Mutually inclusive goals = decrease in intergroup conflict
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Social Identity Theory

  • Sense of who you are based on group membership/the groups you belong to
  • Key factor of intergroup hostility = existence of social groups
  • Tajfel minimal group paradigm - Ps gave more money to their own group than the other group
  • Ingroup favouritism / outgroup derogration

Groups don't always lead to discrimination, but they do when:

  • People feel a sense of belonging to the group
  • The sense of belonging and identification is enhanced when people feel uncertain about themselves and the social context
  • Cognitively represent groups in terms of protoypes - distinguishing groups from each other; ingroup similarities that make ingroups different to outgroups, which creates boundaries
  • Cognitive representations of differences between groups are more exaggerated than reality as they are sharper
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Consequences for Intergroup Behaviour

For Intergroup Members:

  • Sense of belonging, loyalty and favouritism
  • Favour conformity to group standards and normative behaviours

The Desire for a Positive Evaluation:

  • People want a positive evaluation of their ingroup - struggle for dominance/status
  • Positive ingroup evaluations formed to enhance self-esteem

Perception of Outgroup Members:

  • 'Lumped together' / homogenised
  • Seen sterotypically
  • Derogration
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Linguistic Intergroup Bias

  • Prejudice is not always obvious
  • Linguistic intergroup bias - how we describe the behaviours of our group compared to outgroups
  • Use specific language to describe positive outgroup and negative ingroup characteristics
  • Use more general/abstract terms to describe negative outgroup and positive ingroup characteristics

Cognitive Processes

  • Illusory correlations - believe that two things are related when they are not - elements do not exist or are exaggerated
  • Illusion of outgroup homogenity - perceive members of the outgroup as more similar to each other than members of the ingroup, e.g. difficulty identifying those of a different race to us

Reducing Prejudice

  • Contact hypothesis - increased contact between members of different groups can help but often don't seek out contradictory evidence, or believe it
  • Can lead to decategorisation and recategorisation (focus on common membership) when it does work
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Bystander Intervention

Bystander is less likely to help in an emergency if other bystanders are present, e.g. case of Kitty Genovese

Latane & Darley

  • Ps believed they were discussing a topic with either one, two or five others (confeds)
  • One of the confeds faked an epilectic seizure
  • Time taken for Ps to help depended on how many other people (confeds) they were with
  • 50 secs = one confed compared to 150 secs = four other confeds

Principles that can Prevent Helping

  • Pluralistic ignorance - majority privately reject a belief but incorrectly assume that most others will accept it, so go along with it, e.g. not asking a question in class as you believe you are the only one who doesn't understand
  • Diffusion of responsibility - each person dilutes personal responsibility by spreading it among other group members, e.g. not calling the police because you assume someone else has
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