Psychology - Social

what is conformity?

yielding to real or imagined group pressure


outfit choice

tv show / music choice

political / social views

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informational and normative

informational: look to others for the correct answer / information

eg: copying in a difficult test, changing your answer after seeing someone elses

normative: wanting to be accepted by the group, changing your behaviour to fit in

eg: asking what a friend is going to wear, getting a new phone because your friends have it too

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Asch's three line study

A: will be people be influenced by others into giving an obvious wrong answer

M: 123 American, male university students were shown 3 differing length linesand were asked to match to a line on a seperate card. 7 actors answer before them incorrectly.

R: on their own - less than 1% got it wrong

     at least once - 75% conformed

     indervidual differences - 25% never conformed

C: participants conformed on an obvious task due to normative influence and not wanting to get it wrong. after, they admitted to the researcher they knew the correct answer but didn't want to embaress themselves - the acsh effect.

However, he found that people can resist conformity pressures as 25% never conformed.

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Asch evaluations

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social factors of conformity


Task difficulty: more likely to conform if the task is hard- unsure if they have the correct answer. (an expert would be less likely to conform as they are confident in their ability.)

Anonymity: if they can't be personally identified, they are less likely to conform as it's harder to identify them / less likely to be ridiculed by others. (if people in the group know eachother, conformity increases when they're anonymous instead.)

Group size: 2 people = 13.6% conformity, 3+ people = 31.8% (Acsh found this happened when the task is obvious so with a less obvious answer, the more people thereare, the more conformity.)

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dispositional factors of conformity


Expertise: expertise increases confidence which decrease conformity. (expertise can't be looked at in isolation as other factors could affect people's decision to conform. eg. desire to be liked.)

Personality: internal locus of control = less likely to conform  (personality doens't affect conformity in familiar scenarios.)

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what is obedience?

obedience: consciously following the requests of an authority figure

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Milgram's obedience experiment

A: how far will people go when obeying an authority figure? were Nazi's evil or obedient?

M: 40 men (aged 20-50) drew straws (rigged to be the teacher). they saw the learner (actor) get strapped to the shock machine after recieving an 45v shock (to appear real) and then got lead to another room. they had to give a shock everytime they gave an incorrect answer (30 switches on shock generator - 15 volt incriments, "danger", "high voltage"etc). the teacher couldn't hear anything appart from a bang on the wall at 300v. the experimenter continued to tell them they needed to continue the experiment.

R: 100% went to 300v and 65% went to the full 450v - he expected <1% to go up to 450v. the teachers had clear signs of distress: sweating, seizures, trembling.

C: ordinary people are more likely to follow orders from authority even if it means harming people. authority made the situation difficult to disobey: yale university = prestigous, didn't want to disrupt the experiment, didn't know how to behave.

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Milgram evaluations

weakness: participants may not have believed shocks were real - he gave them a real 45v shock but they may have been suspicious about having to give a severe shock in an experiment.

strength: same results have been found in other studies - King asked people to give shocks to puppies = 54% male and 100% female gave fatal shocks.

waekness: participants experienced considerable distress - sweating, trembling, seizures

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agentic and autonomous state

agentic state = someone acts as an agent for someone else because they assume the person giving orders would take the responsibility.

autonomous state = behave according to their own principles and feel responsibility for their own actions.

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social factors of obedience

authority: If a person percieves someone to be an authority figure, they may undergo an agentic shift from autonomous to agentic and give up personal responsibility to authority figure.

culture: most societies are structured in a hierarchical way. most agree that authority figures have social power over others so a person's culture may affect their beliefs and expectations within their society.

proximity: being physically close to the consequence of your actionsmkae you feel more accountable and responsible.

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agency theory evaluations

strength: this theory has supporting evidence. Blass showed students a film of Milgram's study and they blamed the experimenter as being responsible for the harm to the learner as the experimenter was the legitimate authority in the situation meaning the teacher was in an agentic state.

weakness: doesn't explain why there isn't 100% obedience. 35% didn't give the maximum shock to the learner - people with expertise (engineer) didn't go all the way. doesn't explain indervidual differences.

weakness: the gives an excuse for people to follow orders of authority blindly.removes blame from offender and places it on society so agency theory can be dangerous. 

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dispositional factors of obedience

Authoritarian personality was investigated by Adorno to see if personality made people more likely to follow an authority figure's request.

authoritarian personality included: disliking jews, resistant to change, obediant of high authority without question,traditional values and beliefs.

origins in childhood: strict upbringing = more likely to be authoritarian, conditional love based on achievements, loyalty, respect etc.

Freud explains that children internalise their parent's values so a child with strict parenting expects everyone to behave like this. The child also feels hostility towards their parents and they can't express these feelings to their parents (fear of consequences). they relieve their anger onto someone else (usually inferior) = scapegoating.

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Adorno's theory evaluations

weakness: based on questionnaire data (could lie to get socially desirable answers, are unable to explain why they chose their answer, don't know what to say so just guess etc). Tested 2000 middle class white Americans 

weakness: the data is only correlational so we can't claim that authoritarian personality CAUSES greater obedience levels. (can't see cause and effect, third factor may be involved).

weakness: dispositional factors can't explain obedience in isolation - interaction between social and dispositional factors may be better explanation of oedience.

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Kitty Genovese

Case study (1964)

She was attacked at 3am on her way home from work. The attack continued for over half an hour outside her house. 37 of the neighbours were able to recount what happened but none of them called the police during the attack,only after she was killed.

Latane and Darley (1968) believed people didn't help because of the presence of others and each indervidual may have assumed that someone else would have called the police.

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Pillavin's subway study

A: see if the appearance of the victim effects the likelihood of getting help.

M: 4 students made 103 journeys on the subway. one student played the role of the victim and tood in the centre and after 70 seconds, they collapsed. the victim's appearance altered: 38 trials = drunk condition (smelt of alcohol, bottle in a brown bag) and 65 trials + disabled condition (carried a cane).

R: cane = helped 95% of the time and fast, drunk = helped 50% of the time and slower. the number of peoplein the carriage didn't seem to affect helping.

C: characteristics of a victim make a difference to if they are helped - more deserving of help (disabled) = more likely to recieve help. the number of people in an emergency situation does not haveto affect willingness to help.

people are more likely to help those of the same race as them. males were more likely to help than females. 90% of first time helpers were men "it is for men to help".

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Piliavin's evaluations

strength: participants were not aware they were being studied as it was a field experiment so it was high in validity as it was how they would behave normallyin everyday life and not in a socially desirable way.

weakness: the study was mainly on people who live in the city and people who live somewhere like New York are more accustomed to ignoring those in need so we can't assume people outside of cities would behave in the same way.

strength: qualitative data was also collected which may offer more insight into why people did or didn't help. "i don't know where to look", "you feel so bad when you don't know what to do".

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prosocial behaviour: social factors


Presence of others: the more bystanders there are, the less likelihood help will be offered however the presence of others doesn't always delay help eg. 2005 London Bombings.

Cost of helping: helping = danger to yourself, effort, embarassment, making things worse. not helping = guilt, disapproval from others, worrying about victim, rewards for helping = feeling good, praise from victim and others. People assess whether or not it is a real emergency regardless of cost v benefits. Shotland found 65% intervined when a woman shouted "get away from me , i don't know you" compared to 19% who intervined when she shouted "i don't know why i ever married you".

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prosocial behaviour: dispositional factors

Expertise: having specialist knowledge may encourage helping but it's not always the case as Shotland found they were not more likely to help but gave better quality of help.

Similarity to victim: Piliavin found that bystanders were more likely to help if they were the same race. Levine did a study with an actor in a Man U shirt and Liverpool shirt in front of Man U fans and found they were more likely to help the one familiar to them. Similarity can't be the only factor affecting helping as other studies show that people help despite having nothing in common with the victim.

all factors in isolation = reductionist (in reality they interact with one another in order to make a decision).

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Zimbardo's deindividuation study

A: investigate deindividuation by adapting Milgram's shock study.

M: 4 female undergraduates (estrocentric sample) had to deliver shocks in 2 different groups to a learner. group 1: were individuated - own clothes, name tags, introduced by name. group 2: were deindividuated - large coats and hoods, concealed identities, not named.

R: deindividuated group were more likely to press the shock button and for longer.

C: this shows that anonymity (deindividuation) increases the liklihood that people will act antisocially.

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Zimbardo's evaluations

weakness: deindividuation does't always result in antisocial behaviour. Eg. Zimbardo dressed the groups as nurses or members of the kkk and demand characteristics were shown by kkk outfits as they were in a uniform for bad behaviour.

strength: research can help crowd managing as people feel personally identifiable by using surveillance cameras because people can see themselves in the camera, they become self-aware.

weakness: aggression may not simply be a result of anonymity in crowds but also because people are packed tightly together. crowds can cause people to feel stressed which can lead to aggression.

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Bristol riot case study

A: to see if the behaviour of crowds during riots were ruly rather than unruly.

M: reicher analysed the bristol riot in detail - police reports, newspaper, tv, radio, he interviewed 20 people and 6 indetail. 

R: the riot was triggered when policemen raided a black and white cafe at 3:30 on 2nd April to arrest people in relation to illegal drinking and drug taking. the crowd felt it was an unjustified attack. they threw stones at the police and their cars, burnt some and trapped police in the cafe. there was 300-3000 people. after the police left at 7:30 the crowd also stopped.

C: Reicher saw the damage was targeted towards the police, as soon as the police withdrew, the violence stopped. Reicher concluded that the group's behaviour was very clearly rule-driven. Crowd behaviour an violence is not disordered.

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Reicher's evaluations

strength: other research has come to similar conclusions. Marsh examined football 'hooliganism' and suggested that the behaviour shown follows rules which prevents violence from escalating beyond a certain point. supports crowd behaviour not being unruly but follows social norms of the group.

weakness: the data was subjective as the peopple who were willing to be interviewed may have had a biased view. there were up to 3000 people in the crowd and he only interviewed 20, 6 in detail which gives a narrow account of what happened. this data may lack validity.

strength: can provide police with ideas about how best to police riots of this naure. this research suggests that harder policing is not going to diffuse some situations and that increasing police presence is clearly counterproductive. this shows that the research is useful and has real value.

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crowd and collective behaviour: social factors


social loafing: individuation so being in a group reduces personal accountability. Latane asked 84 male undergraduates to shout as loud as they could on their own and then in a group of 6. in a group they indervidually made less noise than if they were alone. this is not seen in all tasks as creative tasks benefits from the group working together. this means social loafing as an explanation of group behaviour is restricted to certain tasks.

culture: indervidualist cultures (uk/usa) amke decisions which generate the best personal outcome where as collectivist cultures (china/korea) make decisions which generate the best outcome for the group.this theory makes generalisations about a country and people vary considerably in a country.

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crowd and collective behaviour: dispositional fact


people with high moral strength are more likely to resist the social norm created by the crowd if it opposes their morals. in Milgram's study, one participant refused to go on as he didn't believe the experiment should take priority over a persons life. historical evidence of individuals who have stood up to crowd behaviour supports this. eg. Sophie Scholl - found guilty of circulating anti-Nazi literature.

personality: people with an internal locus of control are less likely to conform to the social norms of the crowd and would resist. personality may be a weak explanation of crowd and collective behaviour.

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