Psychology (Social influence) AQA GCSE

A set of revision cards for social influence.

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Social influence

Social influence is how other people affect your behaviour.

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A change in belief or behaviour due to real or imagined group pressure. This can be affected by...

  • Group size
  • Anonymity
  • Unanimity
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Social influence

Normative social influence - This where we act like others in order to fit in, for example.... Everyone else wears clothes so you wear them too.

Informational social influence - This is were we use the behaviour of those around us to gain information, we then act accordingly. For example.... You are at a posh dinner and do not know which utensil to use so you check the person next to you and copy him.

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Asch (1951)

A: To see if an individual would conform to a group even if they thought they were wrong.

P: Groups of 6 to 9 people took place in an activity where they judged the length of lines. They were told it was a task of perception. In the groups there was one naive particpant and the rest were confederates. The confederates were told to give wrong answers on trials. The group was then asked which line they thought to be correct.

F: The control group had very few wrong answers but the experimental group, 25% of people conformed most of the time. 72% conformed at least once the average rate of conformity was 32%

C: People will conform so as not to be ridiculed by strangers.

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Following an order given by a figure of authority.

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Milgram (1963)

A: To find out why Nazi's obeyed their authority figure.

P: A confederate and a PP were placed in the role of teacher and learner (secretly the confederate was always a learner) and then were lead into different rooms at yale university. The PP was then informed that they were to teach the confederate by saying words and then asking the words to be said back to them. If the word said back was incorrect they were to shock the confederate. The experiment was used to find how high the shocks delivered would go before the PP stopped. The shocks delivered were fake but the PP did not know this.

F: The prediction was that 2% would deliver the full 450 volts. Actually 100% delivered 300 volts and 65% delivered 450 volts.

C: People will obey a figure of authority even if it means hurting another person.

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Factors which affect obedience

Please Shock Bully And Poke this is an acronym for the five factors which affect obedience.

P = Prestige a change of location can affect obedience for example if it took place in a run down office obedience would be less.

S = Surveillance when not surveyed actively obedience drops.

B = Buffers for example walls which stop the PP being fully aware of their actions increase obedience.

A = Authority When there is no clear figure of authority.

P = Personal responsibility When the PP has more responsibilty for the confederates suffering obedience drops.

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Social Loafing

This is when people put less effort into a task if it is also being performed by others.

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Latane et al (1979)

A: To test the idea of social loafing

P: PP's were split into two conditions that involved them either shouting or clapping loudly. One condition by themselves, and the other within a group. PP's all wore headsets so as not know how much noise they each produced. Investigators recorded the amount of noise produced.

F: The results showed that the more people in a group the less effort was made by each individual. The output was one third when there was five people in each group.

C: The PP's made less effort when others were in the group an example of social loafing.

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The loss of self awareness and responsibilty that you usually have because you are a member of a crowd or are in a place where you can no longer be identified.

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Zimbardo (1969)

A: To test deindividuation.

P: Female PP's gave electric shocks Zimbardo's confederates in groups of four. In one condition they wore identical hoods and clothes so they couldn't be identified. In the other they wore name tags and reffered to each other by their own names.

F: Those who were anonymous were twice as likely to give shocks as those who were not.

C: If people are anonymous, they are more likely to behave aggressively.

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Diener et al. (1976)

A: To see if when anonymous people commit more antisocial acts.

P: They asked 27 women to give sweets to 1000 trick or treaters. In one condition the children remained anonymous and in the other they were asked for names and addresses. The woman then left and the children were asked to take one sweet. An observer then checked if they took more than one.

F: The children were more likely to take extra if they were anonymous.

C: People are more likely to be antisociable if they cant be identified.

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Bystander behaviour

Bystander Behaviour is how people who are witnessing an event respond. They can either ignore the person or get involved and these are bystander apathy and intervention.

Bystander Apathy - When they do not help.

Bystander Intervention - Where the bystander intervenes.

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Diffusion of responibility

The more bystanders the the less likely it is that one of them will help.

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Latane & Darley (1968)

A: To test diffusion of responibility.

P: Students were told to sit in booths and have a conversation with someone via intercom. There were three conditions

  • The PP believed there was only one other person in the booth.
  • Two other people in the booth
  • Five other people in the booth.

One of the confederates then mentioned he was epileptic. After a few minutes he pretended to have a seizure. The time for the PP to help was then recorded.

F: those who responded were recorded condition 1 85% responded, Condition 2 62% and condition 3 31%.

C: When the PP thought he and the confederate were alone they responded far more quickly.

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Latane & Darley (1968)

A: To test pluralistic ignorance.

P: PP's were placed in a room were they did a questionnaire, then smoke poured into the room the time for them to respond to the smoke was recorded. In the second condition PP's were ina room with two confederates.

F: 75% reported smoke within six minutes when alone 10% reported it within six minutes when the two others were also present.

C: Pluralistic ignorance is present here. People don't want to overreact in the presence of others.

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Pluralistic ignorance

When each bystander takes no action which causes the others to believe there is no emergency.

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Piliavin et al. (1969)

A: To test how bystanders behaved when put in a situation where a victim needed help.

P: The procedure involved 2 male confederates who pretended to collapse on the subway in New York. The PP's were passengers on the train.

The victim could be

  • Either black or white
  • Blind or drunk

The time for PP's to help was recorded.


  • A blind victim received help immediately regardless of race.
  • Drunk victims were helped 50 % of the time
  • Drunk were more likely to be helped by someone of the same race.
  • They were more likely to be helped by males
  • The number of bystanders had little effect on the rate of helping

C: Bystanders will help if the cost is low. So little chance for danger or embarassment.

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Bateson (1981)

A: To test the effect of empathy on bystander behaviour.

P: PP's were introduced to a confederate called Elaine they were then informed that Elaine was either similar or dissimilar to them. They then watched as Elaine received a number of electric shocks and then were asked if they wished to take Elaines place and receive electric shocks instead of her or leave.

F: PP's in the high empathy condition were more liely to Elaines place than those in the low empathy condition.

C: THe higher the empathy the more likely it is that we will exhibit altruistic behaviour.

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