Resistance to social influence

  • Created by: HollyB18
  • Created on: 16-04-18 12:09

Resistance to social influence : Social Support

  • Conformity is reduced by a dissenting peer.
  • The dissenter therefore acts as a model.
  • The effect is not long lasting, as it stops if the dissenter begins to obey again.


  • Disobedience rose from 35% to 90% when a dissenter was present.
  • Naive participant doesnt neccesarily follow dissenter but the disobedience allows them to act freely from their own conscience.
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Resistance to social influence :Locus of control

Internal = Place control with themselves

External = Place conntrol outside themselves

  • There is a continuum of locus of control 

Those with an INTERNAL locus are more likely to resist social influence. 

This is because:

1. They take responsibility and so are more likely base decisions on own beliefs.

2. They have the following traits: 

  • Self confidence
  • Intelligence
  • Achievment orientated
  • Less seeking of social approval
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Supporting studies for Social support/LOC

Allen and Levine - Conducted an Asch-like study with a dissenter present.

  • Dissenter made it clear they had vision issues (Glasses and verbal)
  • However, participant still became more likely to resist.
  • Shows: Don't copy their answer but copy their rebellion/disobedience to give our own.

Gamson - Placed participants in groups to make decisions regarding an oil company                               campaign. 

  • 29/33 participants resisted social influence and shared own answers.

Shows: More likely to resist social influence when surrounded by dissenting peers. 

Holland - Repeated Milgrams study measuring if participants were internal or external.

  • 37% internals didnt go to highest shock, 23% externals didnt.
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Limitations of LOC

Twenge - Meta-Analysis of 40yrs of American studies on locus of control.

  • People are becoming less obedient
  • More people now have external locus

So... This could challenge the link, HOWEVER the change in locus could be a result of societal change in that we no longer have as much control in reality.

Rotter - May have been exaggerated as it has been found to only really be relevant in new                   situations.

  • In familiar situations peole are likely to rely on past experience regardless of their LOC.
  • Therefore, if they obeyed in the past they likely will now regardless of LOC.

So... LOC is only relevant in a narrow range of situations meaning it has LESS GENERALISABILITY and therefore LESS VALIDITY.

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Supporting study for Authoritarian personality

Elms and Milgram - Fully obedient people all scored highly on the F-scale 

However... This could simply be a CORRELATION

Hyman and Sheatsley claimed that both factors could also be the result of a lower level of education.

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Limitations of Authoritarian personality

Limited explanation - Not all Germans at the time of the holocaust would have had the same personality so it does not fully explain the reason for peoples obedience and acceptance. 

This was more likely the result of IDENTIFICATION

Politically biased (Christie & Jahoda) - Measures tendency towards right-wing extremist                                                                          ideology

  • Left-wing movements such as Chinese maoism also insist on complete obedience to political authority.

Flawed methodology (Greenstein) - 'COMEDY OF METHODOLOGICAL ERRORS'

  • All questions worded in the same direction so simply measured a tendency to agree.
  • Researchers knew the participants scores before interviewing them and also knew the hypothesis so may have asked leading questions in order to collect biased results.
  • This means that the data becomes meaningless and the entire concept lacks validity.
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Limitations of Authoritarian personality

Over use of correlations

  • Eg - 'Authoritarianism = Prejudice of minority groups' 
  • Regardless of how strong a correlation is it does not mean that the variables have a definitive cause and effect relationship.
  • This means that we cannot be sure that authoritarian personality is the result of strict parenting.
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Minority influence

Minority influence occurs when the minority change the opinions of others through internalisation.

Consistency: Makes others rethink their own views

  • Synchronic consistency = Saying the same thing as eachother
  • Diachronic consistency = Saying the same thing for some time

Commitment: Gains attention 

  • Can involve taking part in risky activities as this makes people think you must very strongly believe in your cause.
  • Augmentation principle = This risky show of commitment gains attention

Flexibility: As not to appear to rigid

  • Nemeth said that constant repetition (too heavy on commitment) can be off-putting to the majority and suggested accepting reasonable counter-arguments and adapting point of view.
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Minority influence

The snowball effect: Minority becomes majority

  • Overtime, people begin to change their views and move to the minority. 
  • The more people do this, the faster the rate of conversion becomes.
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Support for Minority influence

The importance of consistency

Moscovici: Consistent opinions had a greater minority effect than incosistent opinions.

Wood et al: Performed a meta-analysis of over 100 minorities and found that those who                                     demonstrated consistency to be most influential.   

Minority position change requires deeper thought

Martin et al: 

  • Gave participants a viewpoint and measured their attitude towards it.
  • Then played an endorsement of the view from either a majority or minority.
  • A conflicting view was then heard and attitudes were measured again. 

Martin found that those who listened to the minority group were less likely to change to the conflicting view.

This shows that the minority message had been more deeply processed and had a more enduring effect.

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Support for Minority influence

Research supports the involvement of internalisation.

Moscovici varied his study so that participants wrote their answers down. 

  • Agreement with the minority became greated
  • This means that internalisation had occured but people did not want to admit it publically.

This means that the minority effect is not apparent

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Limitations of Minority influence

Research often involves artificial tasks

Moscovici's study is far removed from how minorities try to change opinion in real-life.

  • Real life situations such as political debates or jury duty are far more serious and have real consequences.

Therefore, the studies often lack external validity.

Application of minority influence research to real-life is extremely limited

  • In studies there is a clear distinction between the minority and majority, however in real-life it is not simply demonstrated through numbers.
  • Minorities tend to be COMMITED and TIGHT-KNIT groups
  • Majorities tend to be POWERFUL with HIGHER STATUS.

Therefore, findings may not apply to real situations as these dynamics are rarely reflected and therefore lack external validity.

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Social change: Lessons from minority influence res

1. Civil rights marches (1950's South America) drew attention to segregation by providing social proof.

2. A minority group marched however they demonstrated consistency of their message and intent.

3. Deeper processing occurred as people paid attention and began to question the status quo.

4. Augmentation principle was demonstrated when 'freedom riders' began to travel on busses to challenge the situation and were subsequently beaten.

5. The snowball effect took place as influental activists such as Martin Luther King gained attention from the government which led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act 1964.

6. Social cryptoamnesia has occurred around the issue in that people remember that a change occurred but are unable to remember the events which led to this.

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Social change: Lessons from conformity research

Dissenters make social change more likely

  • Asch's variation study with one dissenter demonstrated potential for social change.
  • This is because it broke the POWER of the majority and ENCOURAGED others to dissent.

Majority ninfluence and normative social influence

  • Examples would be ENVIRONMENTAL and HEALTH campaigns.
  • They provide information by telling us what OTHERS ARE DOING.
  • Encourage change by drawing attention to the behaviour of others.
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Social change: Lessons from obedience research

Disobedient models make change more likely

  • Milgram - Disobedient model caused obedience to PLUMMET.
  • Demonstrates potential for social change.

Gradual commitment leads to drift

  • Zimbardo - Once a small instruction is obeyed it becomes harder to resist a bigger one.
  • People 'drift' into a new kind of behaviour.
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Social change: Research support

Nolan et al - Hung ENERGY USE REDUCTION messages on front doors.

Control group: Messages with NO REFERENCE to other peoples behaviour.

Test group: Messages say that MOST RESIDENTS are taking action to reduce their energy usage

Conformity can lead to social change through NSI

HOWEVER A LIMITATION IS ... Nemeth said it took decades for attitudes towards drink-driving and smoking to change.

Indirect: Majority only infuenced on matters RELATED to the issue NOT THE ISSUE ITSELF..

Delayed: Effect not seen for some time.

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Social change: Limitations

The nature of DEEPER processing has been questioned

Moscovici - Minority influence causes individuals to think deeply so its a different cognitive process.

Mackie - DISAGREES saying majority influence requires DEEPER PROCESSING if you dont share the view.

We assume that we think the same way as others so are forced to consider their arguments.

This CHALLENGE casts doubt on the VALIDITY OF MOSCOVICIS theory. 

There are METHOLODICAL ISSUES in the area of research

  • We mostly rely on studies by MOSCOVICI, ASCH and MILGRAM.
  • However... these have been said to LACK VALIDITY due to their ARTIFICIAL nature. 
  • Also said that the group dynamics don't reflect REAL-LIFE.
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Social change: Limitations

IDENTIFICATION is a highly important factor which is often overlooked

Bashir et al - People are less likely to behave environmentally as they want to avoid minority label 'ENVIRONMENTALIST'

Environmental acitivists can be viewed NEGATIVELY as 'TREE HUGGERS'

So... Minorities should avoid reinforcing stereotypes if they want change.

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