Social Influence B1

  • Created by: Zeenia
  • Created on: 29-01-18 17:47

What is conformity?

Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in our behaviour and attitudes in response to the influence of others or social pressure. This pressure can be real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social norms/expectations). 

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What are social norms?

Social norms are unwritten laws/rules of society that are expected to follow and govern behaviour

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What are the two explanations for conformity?

Normative social influence - when we conform to fit in with the group because we wish to gain the approval of others and don't want to appear foolish or be left out

Informational social influence - the desire to be right; when we conform because we are unsure of the situation and are uncertain about how to behave or what to  think, so we look to others who we believe may have more information than us for guidance. 

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What are the three types of conformity?

COMPLIANCE - individuals agree with the group to gain thier approval or avoid their disapproval; this doesn't result in any change in the person's underlying attitude, only the views and behaviours they express in public. 

INTERNALISATION - 'convert' your behaviour/attitude in order to conform but then this 'conversion becomes real and deep.

IDENTIFICATIONa person changes their public behaviour and their private beliefs, but only while they are in the presence of the group

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Match the types of conformity to the explanation

ComplianceThis is usually a short-term change and is often the result of normative social influence.

InternalisationThis is usually a long-term change and often the result of informational social influence (ISI).

IdentificationThis is a usually a short-term change and normally the result of normative social influence.

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A/P/F/C Asch's study into conformity

A. To investigate the extent to which social pressure  from a majority group could affect a person to conform. P. Used a lab experiment where a niave participant is placed in a room with seven confederates. The confederates in advance agreed on what thier responses would be when presented with a line task. The niave participant was unaware of this and thought that the other confederates were real participants. Each person in the room had to state aloud their answer in which comparison line was the most like the target line. The answer was always obvious. The real participant always said their answer at the end. In the majority of the trails the confederates gave the wrong answer (12/18). Asch wanted to see if they would conform.  F. Asch measured the number of times each particpant conformed. On average 32% in each trial conformed to the clearly incorrect majoirty. 75% of the participants conformed at least once.  C. When the participants were interviewed after the experiment, most of them said they didn't believe thier conforming answers but had conformed to the group because they didn't want to come across as being peculiar. This provides evidence for normative social influence. HOWEVER some particpants conformed as they belived the confederates were right providing evidence for informative social influence

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A/P/F/C Sherif's study into conformity

A. Aimed to demonstrate that people conform to gorup norms when in an ambigious situation. P. He used a lab experiment to study conformity. He used the autokinetic effect - this is where there is a small spot of light that projected in a dark room and appears to move but it doesnt (visual illusion). The participants were individually tested and they gave their estimates as to how far the light moved. The estimates vaired considerbaly (e.g. 20cm-80cm). Then they were put into three groups. The composition of the group was manipulated; two people with close estimates and one person with a very diffrent estimate. Each person had to say aloud how far the light moved. F. Sherif found that over numerous estimates the group coverged to a common estimate. The person with the most different estimate conformed to the view of the other two. Sherif showed that people would always tend to conform. Rather than making individual judegemnts they came to a group agreement. C. It shows that when in an ambigious situation a person will look to others for guidance. They want to do the right thing but lack the information. Conformity in this study is informational social influence.

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Evaluate Asch's and Sheriff's study into conformit

Both studies carried out in similar environments with similar participants meaning that they have the same limitations and strengths.                                                               

The studies are able to estabilsh cause and efffect as they are lab experiments and are able to remove extraneous variables as the environment is controlled

The studys lacks population validity at the situation is unlikley to occur in everyday settings with strangers. When you are with friends and family you are less likely to conform. 

Both studies produced similar results (can use for supporting research) making it reliable. Sheriff's study was more ISI whilst Asch's was NSI. 

ASCH'S study can be referred to as a 'child of its time'. His study was carries out in the 50's when conformity in America's society was high. The study may not produce similar results if it was carried out today as it applies to his time. It lacks validity. 

The studies aren't ethically sound. D. Both studies decdived particpants of the aim so it didn't intefere witht the findings. Asch's study - participants thought the coonfederates were real. I. due to deception they're not fully informed. P. partcipants may have felt uncomfortable. (Asch = NSI)

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What are variables that affect conformity?

Asch carried out a number of variations of his study and see what variables had an effect of the level of conformity. 

GROUP SIZE - Asch found that conformity tends to increase as the size of the group increases. He found that under the pressure of  the majority of three confederates the proportion of conforming responses went to 30%. I creasing the size of the group did not increase the level of substantially. Shwoing that the size of the majority is important but only up to a certain point. 

UNANIMITY OF THE MAJORITY - Asch found that breaking the unanimity can be a major factor in reducing conformity levels. He found that when the real particoants had support from a realpartcipant/confederate, conformity levels dropped. It reduced the percentage of wrong answers from 33% to 5.5%.

DIFFICULTY OF TASK - Asch found that situational differences are an important factor when determining confomity. He found the levl of conformity increases as the task became more difficult. The influence of task dofficulty was moderated by self  efficiency. It shows that situational differences and individual diffrences affect conformity. 

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A/P/F/C Zimbardo's study into conformity

A. To see whether people would conform to new social roles P. The participants were all male psychology students that volunteered to take part in this study that was carried out in Stanford Univeristy in California. They were split randomly into two groups; prisoners & prison guards. The prisoners were meant to spend two weeks locked in 'cells' whilst the prison gaurds were meant to look afte the prisoners and keep them under control. 'Prisoners' were arrested at home unexpectedly and taken to the uni. They were strippped, deloused and given a prison number+uniform. From then they were referred to by their number and they were meant to spend 23 hours a day in their cells. Prison guards given; uniforms including sticks and mirrored sunglasses. They worked a shift and then went homeF. The experiment was called off after six days. The guards had become brutal towards the prisoners that two of the prisoners had some form of a nervous breakdown, one developed a nervous rash all over his body and another went on a hunger strike. When the guards were giving orders the prisoners became apathetic. C. One explanation is that the participantshad conformed to thier social roles. Each role requires a different behaviourDeindividuation also helps to explain the behaviour especially the guards. They had become so immersed in the norm they had lost thier sense of identity and personal responsibility. They became may have become sadistic because it wasn't their responsibility and a group norm

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What are the strengths of Zimbardo's study?

The way in which the study managed to keep some degree of control and some degree of extermal validity. The situation was very tightly contolled as the guards and prisoners were randomly allocated roles using a stringent criteria. Zimbardo aslo went to extremes to making this as realisitc as possible e.g. getting them arrested. 

A further strengthi s is the way he collected data. He used a number of qualitative approches such as obersavtion (overt and covert), interviews and questions. 

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What are the ethical issues surrounding Zimbardo's

D - Particpiants that were randomly assigned to be prisoners weren't aware that there was going to be a mock arrestHowever, this was done to make the study more believable and Zimbardo wanted it to be a surprise because of this. 

I - Due to deception, particpants didn't give their full consent; it was general consent. Also, the partcipants didn't give informed consent as they weren't sure what role they would be given as it was randomly alloacted. If the prisoners were informed what role they had been given there could have been dispouts and changed thier behaviour making the experiment less valid

PThe priosners suffered serious psychological harm as well as physical. They were caused lots of distressHowever, it can be argued that Zimabrdo stopped the experiment after six days when he saw the distress the prisoners were feeling. He didn't let it go too far

WITHDRAWThe right to withdraw wasn't emphasised by Zimbardo and made clear to the partcipants. If they wanted to withdraw at any point they may have thought they were unable to especially as they were being payed to partake in the experiment. However, if this right was made clear to the particpants they would have dropped out on the first day when they got arrested and were stripped. The study wouldn't have been carried out and the conclusions of the study would't have formed. 

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What are some other limitations to Zimbardo's stud

The study lacks population validity as all the particpants were all normal, healthy, male psychology students that were predominantly white middle class people. The sample is unrepresentative and thus needs to be careful when generalising the results to other people. 

The study has been critcised for lacking ecological validity. For practical and ethical reasons the mock prison couldn't have been fully realistic. Aspects of prison life were absent such as involuntary homosexuality, racism, beatings and threats. Also the anticipated 'sentence' was just two weeks so the compariosn may not be meaningful to real prison environmentsBUT considerbale evidence that some of the prisoners and guards thought the prison was real. Guards only dicussed problem prisoners and other prison related topics and rarely exchnaged personal info. Whilst when some prisoners were introduced to the priest they only referred to themself by thier number. Some prisoners asked for lawyers

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