Social influence

  • Created by: April15
  • Created on: 01-01-20 18:12

Types of Conformity and Explanations for Conformit

Types of Conformity:

  • Compliance - conforming to gain approval
  • Internalisation - conforming becuase of an acceptance to their views
  • Identification - accepting influence because of a desire to be associated with a group
  • Identification has elements of compliance and internalisation

Explanations for Conformity:

  • Normative Social Influence - conformity based on the desire for approval
  • More likely to occur when an individual believes they are under surviellance by the group
  • Informational Social Influence - based on an acceptance of information from others as evidence about reality
  • More likely if the situation is ambiguous or where others are experts
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Evaluation and Discussion

Evaluation and Discussion:

  • Difficulties distinguishing between compliance and internalisation
  • Research support for normative influence (Smoking take-up - Linkenbach and Perkins)
  • Research support for informational influence (Attitudes about African Americans - Wittenbrink and Henely)
  • People underestimate the impact of normative influence on their behaviour (Nolan et al.)
  • Informational influence is moderated by type of task (Laughlin)
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Variables Affecting Conformity

Key Study (Asch, 1956)

  • Procedure - participants viewed lines of different lengths and compared them to a standard line
  • Group contained confederates with participants answering second to last
  • Confederates gave the same wrong answer on 12 out of 18 trails
  • Findings - conformity rate was approx 33%
  • Without confederates, participants made mistakes 1% of the time
  • Participants conformed to avoid disapproval

Variables Affecting Conformity:

  • Group size - increased to 30% with the majority of 3
  • Campbell and Fairey - group size has a different effect depending on the type of judgement and motivation
  • Unanimity of the majority - with one dissenter giving the right answer, conformity was 5.5%
  • Dissenter giving the wrong answer conformity was 9%
  • Difficulty of the task - if correct answer less obvious, conformity was higher
  • Lucas et al. - influence of task difficulty moderated by an individual's self - efficacy
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Asch's research is called a 'child of it's time' (Perrin and Spencer)
  • We know very little about the effects of larger majority sizes on conformity levels
  • Independent behaviour rather than conformity - participantsmaintained their independence on two-thirds of the trail
  • Independent behaviour rather than conformity - participants maintained their independence on 2/3 trials
  • Unconvincing confederates - Mori and Aari overcame this problem. Similar results to Asch
  • Cultural differences in conformity - Smith et al. found conformity rates higher in collectivist cultures
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Conformity to Social Roles

Key Study: The Stanford Prison Experiment:

  • Procedure - male volunteers assigned roles of either prisoners or guards
  • Prisoners reffered to by numbers only, guards given uniforms and power to make rules
  • Findings - guards became tyrannical and abusive with the prisoners
  • Prisoners conformed to their role with some showing extreme reactions of crying and rage

BBC Prison Study (Reicher and Haslam):

  • Procedure - male volunteers, matched on social and clinical measures, assigned roles of prisoners or guards
  • Findings - unlike SPE, neither guards nor prisoners conformed to their assigned role
  • Prisoners worked collectievly to challenge authority of the guards, resulting in a power shift
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Conformity to roles is not automatic - Haslam and Reicher argue that the guards chose how to behave, rather than blindly conforming to their social role
  • Demand characteristics - Banuazizi and Movahedi argue that participants' behaviour in the SPE was a response to powerful demand characteristics
  • Zimbardo's study followed ethical guidelines but participants still suffered. Greater steps to minimise potential harm to participants in the BBC study
  • The SPE and its relevance to Abu Ghraib - similarities between the SPE and prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib
  • Zimbardo claims that unthinking conformity can lead to a drift into tyranny - disputed by Reicher and Haslam
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Situational Variables Affecting Obedience

Key Study: Milgram (1963)

  • Procedure - 40 volunteer participants in each condition
  • Real participant acted as 'teacher', confederate as 'learner' 
  • Teacher administered increasing shock levels up to 450v
  • All participants went to 300v level

Situational Factors in Obedience

  • Proximity - obedience levels decreased with increasing proximity
  • Location - obedience levels dropped to 48% in lower-status setting
  • The power of uniform - people more likely to obey someone in a uniform (Bushman)
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Internal Validity - Orne and Holland claim many participants saw through the deception
  • Historical validity - Milgram's findings still as relevant today. No relationship between year of study and obedience levels found (Blass)
  • Proximity - Reserve Police Battalion 101
  • Location - high levels of obedience not surprising
  • The power of uniform - research support
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Agentic State and Legitimacy of Authority

The Agentic State

  • Person acts as an agent to carry out another person's wishes
  • Blinding factors operate to maintain obedience (social ettiquette)
  • Demonstrated in actions at My Lai

Legitimacy of Authority

  • Person must percieve an individual in a position of social control
  • People accept definitions of a situation offered by legitimate authority figure
  • Legitimate commands arise from institutions (a university or the military)
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • The agentic state does not explain gradual transitions found in Nazi doctors
  • Obedient behaviour may be due to a desire to inflict harm on others
  • Agentic shift is a common response when a person loses self-control (Fennis and Aarts)
  • Legitimacy can serve as the basis for justifying harm to others
  • Tarnmow provides support for power of legitmate authority in aircraft cockpits
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The Authoritarian Personality

The Authoritarian Personality

  • People scoring high on the F scale raised within authoritarian family background (Adorno et al.)
  • RWA- conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression (Altemeyer)

Key Stusy: Elms and Milgram (1966)

  • Procedure - 20 'obedient' participants and 20 'defiant' participants
  • Completed MMPI and F scale, and asked open-ended questions
  • Findings - little difference between obedient and defiant participants on MMPI
  • Higher levels of authoritarianism in obedient participants
  • Obedient participants reported being less close to their fathers
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Research evidence - correlation between RWA scores and maximum voltage shock (Dambrun and Vatine)
  • Social context explanations are more flexible
  • Differences - many fully obedient participants had good relationships with their parents
  • Education may determine authoritarianism and obedience (Middendorp and Meloen)
  • Left-wing views associated with lower levels of obedience (Begue et al.) 
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Resistance to Social Influence

Social Support

  • Presence of social support enables the individual to resist conformity (Asch)
  • Social support breaks unanimity and provides an independent assessment of reality
  • Disobedient peers act as role models
  • Obedience rates dropped to 10% when two confederates defied experimenter (Milgram)

Locus of Control

  • Internal LOC- greater independence and less reliance on the opinions of others
  • External LOC- more passive attitude and greater acceptance of the influence of others
  • High Internals are less vulnerable to influence and better able to resist coercion (Hutchins and Etsey)
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Social support in conformity studies more effective when it was from first responder in group
  • Research demonstrates importance of social support in resisting pressure to drink (Rees and Wallace)
  • The Rosentrasse protest showed power of social support
  • Locus of control related to normative but not informational influence (Spector)
  • Young people are far more external than in the 1960s (Twenge et al.)
  • Research support - people high in externality more easily persuaded and more likely to conform (Avtgis)
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Minority Influence

Minority Influence and Behavioural Style

  • Minority influence effective with a consistent, committed and flexible style
  • Wood et al. - minorities who were especially consistent were most influencial 
  • Commitment important as it suggests certainty and confidence
  • Flexibility more effective at changing opinion than rigid arguments

Key Study: Moscovici et al. (1969)

  • Procedure - groups of four naive participants and two confederates
  • Shown blue slides varying in intensity but confederates called them green
  • Group 1 confederates answered consistentley, Group 2 confederates answered inconsistentley
  • Findings - consistent minority influenced naive participants to say green on 8% of trails
  • Inconsistent minority extered very little influence
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Research support for flexibility (Nemeth and Brillmayer)
  • The real value of minority influence is that it 'opens the mind' (Nemeth)
  • Mackie argues that it is the majority rather than the minority that processes information more
  • Percentage of committed opinion holders necessary to 'tip' the majority was 10% (Xie et al.)
  • Minority influence in name only - difficult to convince people of the value of dissent
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Social Influence Processes in Social Change

Social Change through Minority Influence

  • Drawing attention to an issue
  • Minority creates a conflict between majority position and minority position
  • Minorities more influencial when they express their views consistentley 
  • Augmentation principle - minorities are more influencial if they suffer for their views
  • The snowball effect - an intitial small effect spreads more widely until it reaches a 'tipping point'

Social Change through Majority Influence

  • If people percieve something as normal, they alter their behaviour to fit that norm
  • Correcting misperceptions about 'actual' norms using social norms interventions ('Most of us Dont Drink and Drive' campaign; which resulted in a drop of drink driving by 13.7%)
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Evaluation and Discussion

  • Social change through minority influence is gradual
  • Being percieved as 'deviant' limits the influence of minorities
  • Social norms interventions have their limitations - not all have led to social change (DeJong et al.)
  • Social norms and the boomerang effect (Scgultz et al. with electricity usage)
  • The Communist Manifesto - overcame issues that typically limit the influence of minorities
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