social influence notes

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  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 24-02-14 20:48

types of conformity

internalisation: public and private acceptance of other's views - this occurs when a person is exposed to other views of members of a group and examine their own views in order to validate them, it also involves judging the position of the group, this may convince a person that they are wrong and the group is right

  • motivating factors: to find the best way of responding in a particular situation
  • future behaviour: response to situation more likely to be performed if issue arises again regardless of whether other group members are there

compliance: public acceptance of others views, but little or no private acceptance - people who comply focus on what others do or say so that they can adjust to fit in with them

  • motivating factors: to fit in with the rest of the group
  • future behaviour: only perform response if monitered by other group members
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explanations of conformity

normative social influence: a desire to be liked/accepted = explains compliance


  • :( - Garandeau and Cillessen: bullying - shown how groups with low quality of interpersonal friendships can be manipulated by a bully so that a common goal is created to victimise another person
  • :) - marketing campaigns showing what is normative have helped to reduce smoking and alcohol abuse in young people, research shows that 10% of young non-smokers in one county started smoking after being shown campaign whereas 17% of another county did when they weren't shown campaign (41% difference)
  • :) - Schultz: hotel towels - some rooms = control (told environmental benefits, other rooms experimental (75% guests reuse towels) -reduced need for fresh towels by 25%

Asch - provides research evidence for normative SI - majority influence perception of line length (36.8% of responses were incorrect - only one quarter never conformed on any of the trials)

  • role of allies
  • allen and levine - poor vision = invalid social support (thick lenses)
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explanations of conformity 2

informational social influence: a desire to be right/correct, others' perceived to be more knowledgable = explains internalisation

most likely to occur when: situation is ambiguous (right course not clear), situation is a crisis (rapid action required) or if we believe others to be expets


  • Wittenbrink and Henly - social stereotypes - p's exposed to neg comparison information about african americans which they were led to believe was the view of majority later reported more negative beliefs about a black target individual
  • fein - political opinion - judgements of candidates performances in US presidential debates influenced by seeing reactions of others - ractions of fellow p's influence p's judgements on performance
  • jones - mass psychogenic illness - 80 students and 19 staff members complained of same symptoms as teacher when school evacuated due to strange smell when two factors were unrelated
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Milgram - obedience to authority

  • aim: investigate whether ordinary people will obey a legitimate authority figure even when required to injure an innocent person
  • method: 40 male p's by volunteer sample - 2 confeds (experimenter and learner) - teacher had to administer shocks when learner got questions wrong - at 300v learner pounded wall and gave no response to next q - if teacher asked to stop then experimenter had set of prods to encourage continuation
  • results: despite expectations that 1 in 1000 would administer fatal shock, 65% of p's did, and all p's went to 300v and only 5 stopped at that point (when learner first objected)
  • conclusion: ordinary people are astonishingly obedient to authority


  • deception - p's believed they were shocking a person but this was necessary for experiment therefore debrief required
  • psychological harm - during experiment they believed they had harmed the other participant
  • right to withdraw - to what extent was unclear
  • p's may have distrusted experimentor and assumed real purpose of experiment was disguised
  • obedience may change if in more of a realistic setting
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Milgram's explanation of obedience

  • Gradual Commitment: obeying small orders makes it more difficult to resist more serious orders (low level to high level shocks)
  • The Role of Buffers: the extent to which we can see the consequences of our actions affects obedience levels (teacher and learner in seperate rooms)
  • Agentic Shift: when individuals no longer see themselves as responsible for their actions as they are 'only carrying out orders from others, who have 'legitimate authority' over them (experimenter in the same room encouraging them)
  • Legitimacy of authority: obeying commands from a person perceived to be of higher status or powers (presence of experimenter and ideaology that they were helping science)


  • :( - obedience not the only explanation for holocaust - it is oversimplified - may have already been prejudiced - may have been conforming - anti-semitism present everywhere in nazi-Germany
  • :( - situation in nazi-Germany v different to Milgrams experiment - teacher not threatened by learner - holocaust occured over a long time
  • :( - milgrams explanations excuse and justify war crimes - takes away people autonomy when they actually have free will - implies victims should excuse tormentors as actions not of own accord
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locus of control

How much control you perceive yourself to have over your life

internal: the individual control their behaviour, success, etc (independent)

  • high internals are active seekers of useful info, more achievement orientated and better able to resist coercion from others 
  • Rotter - argues that high internals rely more on their own actions and exhibit greater initiative, making them more successful

external: the individual feels the environment and factors around them controls their behaviours, etc (socially influenced)

  • associated with poor school achievement, decreased self control and depression
  • twenge et al - found that young americans increasingly believe that their lives are controlled by external forces and therefore LOC's are becoming more external
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resisting conformity and obedience


  • asch - presence of allies
  • hornsey - moral dilemmas lead to less conformity that physical judgements


  • milgram - presence of allies reduces obedience
  • kohlberg - higher moral development linked with less obedience to unjust orders
  • zimbardo - develop social heroism by imagining ourselves acting heroically in challenging situations
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