Social Influence

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  • Created on: 01-02-18 20:07

Social Influence

·       The effect that others have on our thoughts, feelings and behaviours

·       For example, cautionary tales about the ‘wrong crowd’

·       Western Cultures

®    Seen as a bad thing

®    Large value placed on independence and freedom of the individual – McAuliffe, Jetten, Hornsey & Hogg 2003

·       Does not have to be negative

®    Following driving rules

®    Queuing for lunch

·       Criticise and punish those who violate the norms of the group

·       Reward those who behave prosocially and enhance the lives of others

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·       A special type of social influence in which people are encouraged to strike out at a society they believe is fundamentally wrong or immoral

·       Ryan 2007 

·       Not always a negative thing

®    For example, striking out against driving rules

·       Norm adherence and violation are often a function of punishment and reward

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·       Change one beliefs and/or behaviour

·       Influenced enough to change one’s behaviour to match that of others

·       The convergence of one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours with an external standard

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·       The outward change of behaviour, going along with others’ requests to keep the peace, for reward or to avoid punishment

·       The process of doing as one is asked or as one is required by regulations

·       For example, paying taxes

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·       Merely following another’s commands without internalising associated beliefs/behaviours  

·       For example children doing as their parents have asked

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Injunctive Norms

·       Norms that are perceived as being approved by other people

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·       Others’ ideas/behaviours taken on board and internalised

·       Become part of the self

·       Highest form of social influence

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Sherif’s Studies of Emergent Group Norms – 1935, 1

·       People have a basic need to feel that they are thinking and acting appropriately in social situations

®    They will use other people as frames of reference

§  In times of ambiguity or uncertainty

§  Moderate or average positions are preferred

®    Explains how norms emerge in groups

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Sherif’s Studies of Emergent Group Norms – 1935, 1

·       Visual illusion

·       Makes the light look as though it is moving in the dark as a result of eye movements occurring when physical objects are not present to act as frames of reference

·       Over 100 trials

1)       2-3 people

2)        Dark room

3)        Observe people as pinpoint

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Asch’s Studies of Conformity – 1951, 1952, 1956:

·       Believed that people look to others to help then decide how to act – even in unambiguous situations

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Asch’s Studies of Conformity – 1951, 1952, 1956: P

·       Control group

®    99% of participants chose the correct line

·       Experimental group

®    50% conformed to the incorrect judgement of the group in 6 or more of the critical trials

®    5% conformed to the erroneous group decision in all 12 trials

®    37% average conformity

®    25% did not conform

·       In a situation where the consequences for a participant’s actions are minimal, conformity was still present

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Asch’s Studies of Conformity – 1951, 1952, 1956: R

·       Self-doubt

·       Uncertainty

·       Fear of disapproval

·       Not wanting to stand out

·       Feeling of anxiety

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Milgram’s Studies of Obedience – 1965, 1973

·       The trail of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 motivated the study

·       If placed in a situation where the behaviour you were being asked to perform went against your conscience, how would you behave?

·       Male participants

·       20-50 years old

·       Scientific study on memory and learning at Yale university

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Milgram’s Studies of Obedience – 1965, 1973: Resul

·       63% of ‘teachers’ went up to and beyond 450v

·       Dangerous shocks were administered to someone in pain

·       ‘Teachers’ displayed signs of stress

®    Pleading to stop the experiment

®    Trembling

®    Stuttering when speaking

®    Nervous laughing

®    Offering to take the ‘student’s place

·       People’s attituded often fail to determine their behaviour, especially when the external influences override them

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The Stanford Prison Experiment

·       Guards used initiative, creativity and some enthusiasm to the tasks demanded by the roles that they had been given

®    In contrast to the morally conflicted, reluctant obedience of Milgram’s participants

·       Demand characteristics

®    Told the study was about prison life in the newspaper article

®    Zimbardo took an active role in the experiment

®    Told the participants what they can do in their roles

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The Lucifer Effect – Zimbardo 2007

·       The power of the situation is sufficient to cause good people to do bad things

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The Stanford Prison Experiment: The BBC Prison Stu

·       Replicated the Stanford Prison experiment

·       An almost egalitarian system was developed under certain circumstances

®    Guards gave privileges to prisoners

®    Guards and prisoners got one quite well

·       The way in which the individuals behave in groups is more a matter of the norms and values that are attached to their social identity

®    Norms can be antisocial or prosocial – Jetten et al 1997

®    How you identify with the group will determine how you behave in the situation

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Contextual Facto

·       If instructions are delivered by phone, obedience dropped to 21% - Milgram 1974

·       In order for people to obey, there must be come physical form of the experimenter

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Contextual Facto

·       Teacher was unable to hear the student’s pounding, nearly 100% of teachers continued to the maximum voltage and beyond

·       If you can hear the results of your actions, you disobey faster – the distance may dehumanise them

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Contextual Facto

·       Describing a group as less human

·       Typically with an animal or machine metaphor

·       Makes it easier to harm them

·       For example, refugees, those who have received the death sentence

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Contextual Facto

·       Helps determine whether or not it is the right thing to conform

·       Nurse compliance – Hofling, Brotzman, Dairymple et al 1966

®    22 nurses

®    Unknown doctor phone call

®    Administered a known drug overdose to a patient

®    21/22 obeyed the instruction

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Group Related Fa

Group Pressure

·       Two disobedient peers, obedience dropped to 10%

·       Two obedient peers, obedience increased to 92.5%

Total Unanimity

·       Makes it harder to obey  

·       Conformity – Asch 1955

®    One disagreement , conformity dropped by 25%

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Group Related Fa

Group Cohesion – Berkowitz 1954

·       Level of attraction

·       Power over members 

Prior Commitment

·       Moderates group disapproval effect because they will not want to (…), but may still align more to the group opinion in future decisions – Deutsch & Gerard 1955

®    Lose face

®    Appear weak 

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Group Related Fa

Group Disapproval

·       Fear increases obedience – Asch 1951

Perceived Similarity

·       Increases obedience – Abrams, Wetherell, Cochrane et al 1990

Perceived Interdependence

·       When people perceive that their fates depend upon  other people, and that they need to work together to reach a common goal, conformity increases – Allen 1965, Deutsch & Gerard 1955

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When Does Social Influence Occur: Group Related Fa

Group Size

·       The more people there are, the more likely you are to obey/comply – to an extent

  • Milgram, Bickman & Berkowitz 1969
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Why Are People Affected by Social Influence

Normative Social Influence

·       Desire to be liked

·       Comes about when people wish to gain the social approval/avoid disapproval from others

·       Individual believes they are being watched or monitored by a powerful group (in terms of rewards/punishments)

·       Private views do not change

·       Asch 1955

®    May have still believed that another line was the right answer, but said a different answer because everyone else was

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Why Are People Affected by Social Influence - Info

·       Desire to be right and private views do change

·       Comes about when people wish to be correct and accurate, therefore accepting the information from others

®    When the task is ambiguous

®    When there is a disagreement among a group about the correct response 

·       Sherif 1935, 1937,   Deutsch & Gerard 1955

®    Unambiguous task with private answers that are not monitored by the group

®    Condition 1- face to face with people who made unanimous wrong decision

®    Condition 2 – provided responses privately and anonymously 

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Why Are People Affected by Social Influence - Soci

·       Dual process dependency model of social influence is inadequate – Turner 1991

·       Norms of the group are adhered to because the group is perceived as part of the individual 

·       Example – Platow, Voudouris, Coulson et al 2007

®    Ice bucket challenge – placed hand in a bucket full of ice and measured the galvanic skin response

®    Condition 1 – put hand in bucket of ice cold water and keep it there for as long as you can

®    Condition 2 – do it again, but are reassured from ingroup/outgroup

®    Lower GSR when reassured by the ingroup 

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Why Are People Affected by Social Influence

Intergroup Sensitivity Effect – Hornsey, Oppes & Svennson 2002

·       You take criticism from ingroup member a lot better than from outgroup member

·       Less threatening

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Who Is Influenced? - Personality

·       Little research to support the idea that personality factors predict conformity

·       More of an average tendency and context being primary determinant

·       Examples

®    Elms & Milgram 1966

§  ‘Blue-collar’ vs ‘Professional’

®    Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford 1950

§  Conventionalism, submission to authority and aggression

§  Authoritarian personality

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Who Is Influenced? - Gender

·       Inconclusive

®    No gender differences in social influence – Milgram 1974

®    Women conformed more to group pressure for the traditionally masculine issues. Men conformed more on the traditionally feminine issues – Sistrunk & McDavid 1971

®    Women conform in more public settings – Eagly 1978

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Who Is Influenced? - Culture

·       Relatively robust and significant differences across cultures in conformity

·       Conformity tends to be higher in

®    ‘Tight’ cultures where strong traditions are displayed – Huang & Harris 1973

®    Communal social organisations – Boldt 1976

®    Authoritarian structures – Chandra 1973

®    Sedentary, agricultural groups – Whittaker & Meade 1967

®    Collectivist cultures such as Asian and Non-Western cultures    - Bond & Smith 1996

·       Obedience to authority is universal and is found regardless of the culture

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Resisting Social Influence


·       Deliberately reacting against an influence attempt – Brehm 1966

®    Can lead to rebellion

·       Reasons to resist include

®    Influence attempts are blatant or obvious

®    Our personal freedom is being violated

®    We feel we are being manipulated

·       Example

®    Reverse psychology

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Resisting Social Influence

Asserting Uniqueness

·       Reclaiming individuality by not conforming to the norms of too-similar others – Snyder & Fromkin 1980

·       Establish your own sense of self

·       Establish yourself – make yourself unique

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