Resistance to Social Influence

  • Created by: mayono1
  • Created on: 18-10-18 14:18

Social Support

Social support can help people resist conformity. The pressure can be released if there are other people who are not conforming. For example in Asch's research, the person not conforming does not have to give the right answer but simply the fact that someone else is not following the majority appears to enable a person to be free to follow their own conscience. However, it also showed that once the non-conforming person starts conforming again, so does the naive participant.

Social support can also help people resist obedience. The pressure to obey can be reduced if there is other people disobeying. For example, in one of Milgram's variations, the rate of obedience dropped from 65% to 10% when the genuine participant was joined by a disobedient confederate. 

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Locus of Control (LOC)

Rotter (1966) - a concept concerned with internal control versus external control. Internals believe that the things that happen to them are largely controlled by themselves. Externals believe that things happen without their control. They may blame things on other factors.

People differ in the way they explain their successes and failures but it isn't simply a matter of being internal or external. There is a continuum with high internal LOC at one end and high external LOC at the other end, with low internal and external lying in between.

People who have an internal LOC are more likely to be able to resist pressures to conform or obey. Another explanation for the link with greater resistance is that people with a high internal LOC tend to be more self-confident, more achievement-orientated, have higher intelligence and have less need for social approval.

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Evaluation: Social support

Research evidence supports the role of dissenting peers in resisting conformity. For example, Allen and Levine (1971) found that conformity decreased when there was one dissenter in an Asch-type study. More importantly, this occurred even if the dissenter wore thick glasses and said he had difficulty with his vision. This supports the view that resistance is not just motivated by following what someone else says but it enables someone to be free from the pressure of the group.

Another strength is that there is research evidence that supports the role of dissenting peers in resisting obedience. Gamson et al (1982) found higher levels of resistance in their study than Milgram. This was probably because the participants in Gamson's study were in groups. In Gamson's study, 29 out of 33 groups of participants rebelled. This shows that peer support is linked to greater resistance.

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Evaluation: Locus of control (LOC)

Research evidence supports the link between LOC and resistance to obedience. Holland (1967) repeated Milgram's baseline study and measured whether particpants were internals or externals. He found that 37% of internals did not continue to the highest shock level whereas only 23% of externals did not continue. Research support of this nature increases the validity of the LOC explanation and our confidence that it can explain resistance. 

However, not all research supports the link between LOC and resistance. Twenge et al (2004) analysed data from American locus of control studies over a 40-year period. The data showed that, over this time span, people have become more resistant to obedience but also more external. If resistance were linked to an internal LOC, we would expect people to become more internal. However, it's possible that the results are due to a changing society where many things are out of personal control.

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