Social Influence: models, processes and research

Asch (1950): Line Test of Conformity

AIM: investigated the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a persons likelihood to conform

PROCEDURE: Lab experiment. Asked ppts to match line to 'standard line'. Naive ppts tested individually with a group of 6-8 confederates - who were costucted to give the same wrong  answer.

FINDINGS: The ppt gave a wrong answer 36.8% of the time. 25% of ppts did not conform at all, meaning 75% conformed at least once. Therefore showing that participants conformed because they want to fit in with the group (normative influence) and because they believe the group are smarter/more informed than them (informational influence).

VARIATION 1-Group size. Found that with 3 confederates, conformity rose to 31.8%

VARIATION 2-Unanimity. Gave ppt a partner that sometimes gave correct answer, making conformity level drop

VARIATION 3-Task difficulty. Asked "late" ppts to verbalise answer, conformity increased - ISI

CONCLUSION: People conform to the majority

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Zimbardo (1973): Prison experiment into Conformity

AIM: see if people coform to social roles

PROCEDURE: Mock prison in psych department of Stanford Uni. Chose 'emotionally stable' and randomly assigned them to guard or prisoner. Prisoners 'arrested' in home by local police. Guards blindfolded and taken to 'prison', given a uniform, a wooden club, handcuffs, keys, mirror shades and a badge. Prisoners had to follow 16 rules enforced by guards. 3 guards worked at a time. Prisoners were called by their numbers.

FINDINGS: Had to finish after 6 days rather than 14 because guards became a threat to prisoners mental and physical health. Within 2 days prisoners had rebelled against guards. Prisoner become depressed and anxious. Guards became brutal and aggressive, punishing prisoners at every misdemeanour. All ppts conformed to their role in the prison, most acting as though they were in a real prison not a research experiment. Zimbardo was able to discover that the power of a situation can influence peoples behaviour. Showing that people will readily conform to the social roles they are expected to play. Especially if the roles are as strongly stereotyped- such as those of the prison guards.

CONCLUSION: People will readily conform to the social roles

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Milgram (1963): Original shock-test of Obedience

AIM: To see why so many German-Nazi WW2 soldiers obeyed their orders

PROCEDURE: Study took place at Yale Uni. Recruited 40 male ppts through newspaper by offering money. Allocated roles of teacher and learner. T sees L strapped into electric chair and shocked. T experienced small shocks to make it believable. T read out Qs, if L answered incorrectly then they would be shocked at an incraeasing voltage each time. FAKE EXPERIMENT - allocation of T and L was not random, Ls were confederates of the study and were not actually shocked - was all pretend. Variations; proximity, uniform, location

FINDINGS: 65% of ppts administered a dealthy 450 v shock. 100% of ppts adminstered up to a minimum of 300 v.

CONCLUSION: People are likely to obey orders of an authority figure, even to the extent of killing another person. Obedience in ingrained in everyone.

Replocation in Poland 2005- AIM: See whether ppts are more or less likely to shock a woman than a man. PROCEDURE: Made the leaner a woman, because women are thought to be a gender that requires proctection. FINDINGS: 90% adminstered the highest level shock, and ppts were 3x mre likely to refuse to shcok a womean - however they were still told to continue

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Adorno: Authoritarian Personality

PROCEDURE: investigated the causes of the obedient personality in a study of more than 2000 middle-class, white americans, and their uncinscious attitudes. Measured AP through fatalism scale (F-scale), along with some other scale

FINDINGS: People with authoritarian learnings (i.e score high on scales), identified with 'strong' people and were generally contemptuous of the 'weak'. Conscious of their own and other peoples status', showing excessive respect, deference and servility to those of higher status. AP people had a cognitive style where there was no 'fuzziness' between people, and had a fixed stereotype about other groups. Positive correlation between authoritarianism and prejudice.

CHARACTERISTICS: Obedient to authority. Submissive and respectful for authority. Show contempt to inferior people. Highly conventional attitudes towards sex, race and gender. Believe we need powerful leaders to enforce traditional values. They're inflexible, close-minded & uncomfortable with uncertainty.

ORIGIN: Strict parenting during childhood; extreme discipline, an expectation of absolute loyalty, impossibly high standards, severe criticism. Given conventional love. Resent parents but still fear them - lading them to transfer tehir anger to other children (i.e someone weaker/inferior)

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Nolan: Investigation into Social Change


P: Research supports the idea that normative influence leads to social cahnge

E: Nolan investigated whether social influence processes led to a reduction in energy consumpton in a community. To fight the issue at hand they hung messages on the front doors of houses in San Diego, California every week for a month. The message being that they were trying to reduce their energy usage within homes. As a control, some residents had a different message that just asked them to save energy but made no reference to others' behaviour

E: Nolan found significant decreases in energy usage in the first group. This is a strength because it shows that conformity can lead to social change through the operation of normative social influence.

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