Social Psychology

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Conformity = Yielding to a percieved or real peer pressure from a group or individual causing a change in opinion or behaviour.

  • Compliance - Superficial type of conformity where we outwardly go along with a majority view but privately disagree. The change lasts as long as the group is present.
  • Identification - Acting in the same way as a group because we value it and wish to be part of it. Do not necessarily agree with everything the majority believes.
  • Internalisation - Deep conformity where majority view is taken on as we accept it as correct. Leads to permanent change in begaviour even when group is absent.

Informational Social Influence = Motivational force to agree with the majority as we believe it is correct and accept this as the correct behaviour/view.

Normative Social Influence = Motivational force to agree with the majority because we want to be accepted and gain social approval. 

Affected by: Group Size, Unamity and Task difficulty.

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Studies (Conformity)

Asch (1955) - Participants were asked in a group with seven confederates which of three lines matched the stimulus line. There were 18 different trials with 12 critical trials with identical wrong answers from confederates. 

  • 0.04% wrong in Control group
  • 32% in critical trials
  • 75% conformed in at least once

The study was unethical as it involved deception and lacked mundane realism.

Jenness (1932) - Participants made individual estimates of the number jellybeans in the jar privately and then their answers were discussed as a group. Afterwards, they were asked to make private estimates again which generally converged with the group estimates. The change in answers was greater in females. The study was lab based and lacked realism and the task was unknown therefore there was deception involved.

Zimbardo (1973) - Participants volunteer to be in a prison experiment in which they were randomly allocated into their roles. Prisoners were dehumanised and given a regular routine. Guards are more sadistic and prisoners are more submissive. Ended after 6 days due to Psychological harm.

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Obidience = Individual follows a direct order from an percieved or real authority figure with the power to punish when obidience isn't forthcoming.

Reasons for Obidience: 

  • Agentic State - Obeying an order even if viewed as wrong due to handing over responsibility of the outcome to the authority figure.
  • Legitimacy of Authority - Degree to which individuals are seen as having power over others.
  • Authoritarian Personality - A person who holds rigid beliefs, is intolerant of ambiguity, subissive to authority and hostile to those of lower status. (Adorno)

Variables affecting Obidience: 

  • Proximity
  • Location
  • Uniform (Bickmans study - 38% conform for security, 19% for civilian)
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Studies (Obidience)

Milgarm (1963) - He asked participants to conduct a learning task in which an unknown person would be shocked if they answered a given memory task incorrectly. 

  • 62.5% obeyed to the lethal dose of 450V
  • 65% obeyed with no pre-recorded sounds
  • 100% obeyed up to 300V

The study was unethical as it involved both deception and psychological harm. It also lacks internal validity as it was argued that people only obeyed as they didn't truly believe that they were shocking anyone (Orne).

Hofling et al (1966) - He called up nurses by phone claiming to be a Dr Smith and instructed 22 nurses to give a patient 20mg of an unfamiliar drug and would authorise when he came in, despite the maximum dose being 10mg. 21/22 nurses obeyed the request, though with a familiar drug only 2 obeyed. But the control group said they wouldnt have given the drug without confirmation papers in person. The study is relevant to real life as it is a very real situation.

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Minority Influence

Minority Influence = The situation where one person or a small group influences the beliefs and behaviours of other people causing them to reject established majority group norms due to internalisation.

Factors affecting minority influence: 

  • Consistency - solidifys argument and draws attention as they appear committed to the cause.
  • Flexibility - must be prepared to adapt their view and accept valid counterarguments so not to appear dogmatic

Snowball effect = A process that starts from an initial state of small significance and increasingly becomes larger due to increasing support.

Social Cryptoamnesia = The experience of an idea being new and original when actually it is a memory of the past (origin is forgotten)

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Studies (Minority Influence)

Moscovici (1969) - Participants were placed into 32 groups of 6, with 4 real participants and 2 confederates for what they believed was a study on perception. 36 Blue slides were shown with varying intensity. In one condition, the confederates said they were all green. In the other, only 24 were green, the remaining 12 were blue. 

  • 8.2% agreed in the consistent condition
  • 32% agreed at least once
  • 1.25% agreed in the inconsistent condition

This study involved deception and potentially mild stress making it moderately unethical. In addition, it is ungeneralisable as it was conducted with all female participants. When answers were given privately there was greater agreement with the minority. This study doesn't identify factors such as group size or status.

Nemeth (2005) - Systematic processing

Maas et al (1982) - Identification

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Resisting Social Influence

Resisting social influence involves an independent and anti-conformist personality, though other factors also impact resistance.

Social Support - Perception of assistance and solidarity avaliable from others. Asch's study found a dissenter answering correctly from the start of the study reduced conformity from 32% to 5.5%. Whilst in Milgrams, with 2 confederates, participants left early with only 10% making it to 450V.

Locus of Control (Rotter et al) - The extent to which individuals believe that they can control events in there lives. Internal = things occur due to my actions and choices. External = things occur due to fate or luck. (Conformity study: Spector (1983)/Obidience study: Holland (1967))

Reactance - Rebellious anger produced by attempts to restrict freedom and choice

Ironic Deviance - Belief that others behaviour occurs due to being told to do so which reduces informational influence.

Other factors include Systematic Processing (Martin et al), Morality (Milgram) and Personality (Oliner and Oliner)

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