Social Influence Unit 2 Spec A

overview of social influence section

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 01-05-12 11:01

Why we conform

Conformity: Yeilding to group pressure

Why we conform:

Informational: Douted their accuracy so yielded to group pressure.

Normative: Pubically behaviour is similar to that of the majority, this is to fit in and avoid disapproval.

Kelman: why we conforrm

Complience: Pubically going along with the majority even through privately they disagree.

Internalisation: Changing behaviour both pubically and privately.

Identification: Changing behaviour to suit a social role.

1 of 7

Conformity - Asch


Used 123 male students in America, in a line test. They were told it was a memory test so they were decepted. There were 7 confederates and 1 real participants, the confederates would state the wrong answer to see if the particiapant would conform to the majorty by stating the same answer.

Findings: In 12 critical trials...

* 36.8% conformed to the wrong answer

* One quarter never conformed

* 74% conformed at least once

* Mode, difficulty, number of people in majority, level of authority were influencing factors


+ Lab study so controlls varablies

- Cultural and gender bias

- Deception

- Participant variables

- Small sample

- USA was a conservative country at the time so there was higher levels of conformity.

2 of 7

Perrin & Spencer

Reproduced Asch's study with maths, engineering and science students; they found less conformity than asch's study.


* Cultural difference between Britian (1980's) and USA 30 years before.

* The students have skills required from their courses and are more confident in their accuracy.

Perrin & Spencer also did a further study but this time used young offenders as participants and probation officers as confederates.


The levels of conformity were similar to Asch's study because the confederates had authority over the participants; this influenced the participants answers to avoid disproval (normative).

3 of 7

Smith & Bond

A meta-analysis of conformity studies across 17 countries; they established collectivist cultures had significantly higher levels of conformity than individualist cultures.

However, since Asch's study conformity has decreased therefore the date negetively correlates with levels of conformity.

4 of 7


Organised a 'mock' prision in the basement of Yale university, researching identification and how far people would take on the social role.

24 male college students volunteered and were randomly allocated to either role; prisioner or gaurd and told to act it out as real.

The study was terminated after 6 days instead of the intended 2 weeks, instead of the zimbardo was shocked about the brutallity of the guards.

"In a few days, the role dominated the person"  Zimbardo


+ Controlled variables (lab) + High ecological validlity

 - Cultural and gender bias  - Deception - Protection - Informed consent

5 of 7

Obedience - Milgram's Study

Obedience: Acting in responce to a direct order given by someone in a postion of authority.


Investigated ordinary Americans to see if they would obey an unjust order from someone in a postion of authority. They was one learner (confederate) and one teacher (participant), the experiementer used standardized prompts 'you must continute' and 'the experiement requires you to continue'. The teacher administers electric shocks up to 450 volts when the learner states the wrong answer, but the particpants didn't know that the learner was a confederate and wasn't actually being harmed.


Beforehand, the public were asked what they throught the particpants would do, all stated that they would refuse to obey.

* 65% of participants continuted to 450 volts

* 12.5% stopped at 300 volts

* All went to 300 volts

Milgram's study suggests that obidence is human nature, and people obey orders that go against there conscience when put in certain situations.

Participants were de-breifed after and answered a questionaire which stated 74% were glad they took part because they learnt something valuable about themselves. Only 1.3% reported anything negetive to say and no-one had any long-term affects from the study.


+ lab study which controls variables  + High ecological validility

- Small sample  - Cultural and gender bias  - ethical issues (protection, deception and informed consent)

Overcoming ethical issues:

breaks to reduce stress, right to withdraw, role play, gaining presumative consent and reminders to withdraw

6 of 7

Mandel - why we obey

Gradual commitment:The indivdual gradually commits themselves to a task in smal doses. eg, one shock to the next small gradual step (15 volts).

Buffers: The psychological difference, the further away from the victim the less influence on the, different rooms.

Agentic Shift: Shift from autonomus state to agentic stste, this means the individual feels less responsible as they believe they are acting on behalf of someone else. eg, shown when participant asked experiementer who is responsible for the learner, he stated 'I am, I am held responsible for the learner'.

Ideology: Justification for the actions. eg, for information to protect others.

Mandel states Milgram's explanation for obedience is too simplistic and misleading. Mandel suggests that by solely relying on obidence for the holocaust and other crimes. (Monocausal Emphasis)

 He ignores that explaination of predujustice and discrimination - Goldhagen

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »