Social Influence

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Social Influence

  • Ways in which external factors alter behavior

Involves: Conformity, compliance and obedience

Conformity ( changing behavior because of precieved pressure)

Compliance ( agreeing to requests or suggestions)

Obedience (following orders or instructions)

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Factors of social influence

Authority- more willing to follow a person of expertise

Reciprocity- gaining something in return

Liking- more willing to say yes if it a person we like

Social proof- more likely to follow a request if others are going the same

Commitment- more likely to say yes if we are involved in something similar

Scarcity- more like;y to say yes to something if they are rare

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Compliance techniques (foot-in-the-door)

Foot-in-the-door: strats with a small request and then later is followed up by a larger request


Researchers went to a University campus and asked if they would would sign a poster in regards to conserving water (small request). In order to be consistent, the ones who signed the poster were then asked to use less water (larger request) and then report the statistics.

False cause- might not be as a result of the poster signing

Low eco validity

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Compliance techniques (low-balling)

  • a commitment is made at a "low cost" and then later on there are hidden costs

Experiment: Cialdini et al (1978)

  • Two groups asked to participate in a experiment
  • Control group was told it started at 7 am. Only 24% agreed to this!
  • Experimental group was later told the start time. Out of the 56% that agreed to the talk- 95% shoed up
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Compliance techniques (door-in-the-face)

  • start with a larger request and then come back with a smaller request ( person feels like there needs are being met)

Experiment: Cialdini et al (1975)

Reserchers went to a campus and asked groups if the would be willing to chaperon a group of juvenille deliqents to a zoo trip (small request) 17% agreed

Large request: would they be willing to voluteer for 2 hours per week for 2 years tutoring children. 0% agreed

Follow up request was the zoo trip and 51% agreed

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Compliance techniques (hazing)

  • a series of initiation tasks (involving embarrassment or pain) are undertaken in order to become apart of an exclusive group. They are hard to complete so once they are, you feel commited.

Experiment: Anderson and Mills (1959)

Female students were asked to join a discussion about sex

One group had to go through intiation ( reading out embarrsing words) whilst the others group were accepted straight away

The spokeperson was trained in being boring and unappealing whilst talking

Non-initiation found the talk "boring and uninteresting" whilst the others said it was "valuable"

Criticim: unethical

Flaw: false cause

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Asch (1951):

  • used 123 male students in an experiment to test if socail pressure from a majority of the group would result in change of answers of the subject participant.
  • 1 naive participant was put in a room of 6 cofederates to see if he would conform to the groups already agreed upon answers.

Results: Asch measure the number of times the naive partipant conformed 32% conformed

over 12 trials 75% conformed and 25% never conformed

Conclusion: people conform because they want to fit in with the group (normative conformity) and because they believe the other members of the group are better informed (informative conformity)

Flaws: all male

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