This is shown when an individual resists pressures to conform. True independent behaviour means that the individual is unresposive to the norms of the group (their referance group)
This can be easier when older, comes with high self esteem and is about doing something because you want to.
This person is not reacting against the norm, but is just unaffected by it. An independent person will go along with the group but ONLY when it coincides witht their own beliefs and values.
Resisting pressures to conform
There are two main reason why people resist conformity:
Desire for individuation: This is when the desire to maintain a sense of individuality outweighs the pressure to conform. For example some western cultures feel uncomfortable if they appear like everyone else
Snyder&Fromkin (1980) did a study into this where they led one group of american students to believe that their most important attitudes were different to 10,000 other students. Another were told that their attitudes were the same. Later in a conformity study people who had been striped of their identity resisted pressures to confrom more than the other group.
Desire to maintain control
If we experiance obvious group pressure then we may feel that our personal freedom and control have been threatened. Research has shown that people with higher need for personal control are more likely to resist pressures to conform.
Resisting pressures to conform - continued
Daubman (1993) did a study into the desire to maintain control.
In this study all participants were given the same feedback after a task (that they were average on solving puzzles but their partner did better) They were then given hints on how to do better.
People who had scored low on the 'Desirability of Control Scale" welcomed these hints. However those who scored high tended to feel worse after recieving these hints.
Showing there are differences in how much control you desire.
Resisiting pressures to obey
In Milgram's study a significant minority refused to obey factors that have effected this can be;
Feeling responsibly and empathetic - One participant said after the Milgram experiment that she had grown up in Nazi Germany and had experienced too much pain in her own life so didn't want to inflict such pain on others. Therefore past experience and/or feelings of empathy can contribute to ability to resist obedience.
Questioning motives and status of authority - this has been seen as a way to avoid automatic obedience. For example when Milgram's study was moved to the seedy offices obediance dropped. Therefore questioning the authority of the 'man in white coat' may have played a part in the increase of reisitance to obedience.
Individual Differences on Independant behaviour -
Locus of Control - this refers to people's beliefs and expectations of what controls events in their lives. There are two types:
Internal - this is a beilef that what happens to them is a consequence of their own actions and therefore one can succeed in stressful situations
External - this is a more passive apporach and that what happens to them is out of their control, luck and fate being large factors.
Research as shown that generally people with an internal LOC are more independant. Blass (1991) reviewed Milgrams experiment and found that people with an internal LOC were more resistant to pressures to obey
Individual differences - Gender - Obedience
Gender differences and Obedience
Milgram used mostly male participants but in one study with 40 women he found that 65% went to 450volts. - no difference
Bluss (1991) reviewed replications of Milgrams experiment and found no gender differences. Despite studies being carried out in different countries with both male and female researchers. Only in one study in australia was there a gender difference. 40% obedience in males 16% in females
Therefore we can conclude that there are no reliable gender differences in levels of independant behaviour when it comes to resisting pressures to obey
Individual differences - Gender - Conformity
Sistrunk&McDavid (1971) subjected males and females to group pressures when identifying different types of stimuli, 'masculine' items (types of wrench), 'feminine' items (types of needle work) and neutral items (eg popular rock bands)
They found that females conformed more on masculine items and males conformed more on feminine items however there was no gender difference on the neutral items.
Conclustion: No gender differences, however it has been shown that females may conform more in public group pressures. Due to socialisation, females are socialised to be pleasing and agreeable whereas men as supposed to be more independant.
Implications for social change of research into so
Zimbardo has discussed impliactions for postitve social change in his book, 'the lucifer effect' (2007). He argues that we can resist unwanted influences and avoid conformity to 'evil' group norms
He processed 10 steps including:
Be mindful - Pay attention to the words and actions of those who try to influence us and encorage children to be critical of group norms and authority figures.
Develop a balance time perspecive - Avoid going along with others actions that you know from past experience will have bad consequences.
Oppose unjust systems - Although hard to do idividuals who bring social injustices to public attention along with others of the same mind can make a difference
Zimbardo argues that we can all be 'hero's'