Social Psychology

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  • Created by: Rachael
  • Created on: 19-05-14 10:24

Types of Conformity


  • Yielding to group pressure
  • Changing our behaviour or thinking because of influence from other people 


  • Shallow conformity
  • Person conforms publicly, but diagrees privately 
  • Complying to gain group acceptance or so you do not stand out 


  • Deep conformity 
  • Person takes views of others on both publicly and privately 
  • Taking on the views because you are convined they are right 
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Why Do People Conform?

The Dual Process Model: 

Normative Social Influence: 

  • Conformity is based on the need to be accepted 
  • Shown in Asch's line experiment 
    • Ps placed in a group made up of confederates and asked to match a standard line with three comparison lines 
    • All confederates gave the same, wrong answer on critical trials
    • Found that people conformed even when they knew the answer was wrong 
      • Ps conformed on 37% of critical trials 
      • 5% conformed on every critical trial
      • 75% conformed at least once
      • 25% did not conform at all 
    • Asch found that conformity increased rapidly until a ceiling of influence of 3 confederates was reached 
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Why Do People Conform?

Informational Social Influence: 

  • Conformity is based on the need to be right 
  • People conform because they are undure of how to behave in a situation or are unsure of their opinion 
  • Shown in Sherif's light experiement 
    • Ps asked to estimate how far a spot of light moved in a dark room (optical illusion) 
    • Placed in groups of three and repeated task 
    • Ps changed original answer to reach a group norm 
    • When studied one year later, people continued to conform to the group norm 

Referent Social Influence: 

  • Social Indentity Theory
  • An important part of a person's identity is memebership of social groups
  • We see ourselves as similar to others in our group and differnet to people in other groups 
  • Group provides us with rules and normed that we internalise and you to regulate behaviour 
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Obedience is complying with an order, usually given by someone in power 

Milgram's Study: 

  • ecruited 40 male Ps from an advert in a local people 
  • Ps arrrived at Yale University and were given the role of teacher. A confederate had the role of learner 
  • Teacher was told to give an electric shock every time the learner got a question wrong in a memory test
  • Shocks started at 15V, and increased by this interval up to 450V 
  • Experimenter prompted teacher to continue 
  • Despite showing signs of stress and protesting verbally, all Ps continued to 300V and 65% to the full 450V 
  • Variations:
    • Moved to a downtown office (48% to 450V) 
    • Teacher gave orders over the phone (20% to 450V) 
    • Disobedient confederate (10% to 450V) 
    • Learner and teacher in same room (30% to 450V) 
    • Forcing learners hand onto shock plate (30% to 450V) 
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Criticisms of Milgram's Research


  • Milgram argued that he had gained presumptive consent 

Prevention from Withdrawal: 

  • Milgram argued that it was possible to withdraw, and 35% did withdraw before administering full shocks 


  • Ps were immediately debriefed 
  • Psychiatrist employed to check on Ps one year later 


  • Orne and Holland argued that Ps had knowjn it was a fake experiment, and simply conformed with demand characteristics 
  • Milgram argued that film footage shows Ps to be very stressed and therefore they did not know it was an experiment 
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Factors Influencing Obedience

Legitimate Authority Figure: 

  • We are more likely to obey when told to do sopmething by someone in authority
    • In Milgram's office variation, obedience fell becausde the experimenter had less authority 
    • In Bickman's study, obedience was higher when wearing a uniform 
    • In Hofling's experiment, 21/22 nurses obeyed an order just because it was given by a doctor 

Graduated Commitment: 

  • In Milgram's study, people were drawn into obedience by being given a small order that increased each time 
  • Thi made it harder for people to back out 

Agentic State: 

  • Acting as an agent of someone else (e.g Hofling's nurses) 

Distance and Buffers: 

  • Having the learner in another room shielded Ps, obdeince fell when teacher and learner were in the same room, or they were made to physically force the learners hand to a shock plate 
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Independent Behaviour

Occurs when someone resists the pressure to conform or refuses to obey an order

People with a high internal locus of control are less likely to obey an order or conform, and are also more likely to bring about social change 

Abrams said that we only conform with the majority if they are similar in some way to ourselves 

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Social Change

Changes in attitudes, behaviours or laws that take place on a large scale and affect society 

  • Suffragette movement 
  • Cilvil rights movement 
  • gay rights movement 

How Social Change Happens: 

  • Through minority influence
  • Clark's study showed that the majority start to change their view when others defect, resulting in the snowball effect 
  • Social action
  • Social creativity 
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Social Change Research


  • Conversion to a different viewpoint occurs under certain conditions 
  • Minority must be consistent 
  • Minority must show flexibility 
  • Views of minority must be relevant to social trends 
  • Minority must be committed and prepared to make sacrifices 

Hart, Stasson and Karau: 

  • Measured impact of strength and immediacy on social influence 
  • Found that immedicacy is an imporant factor in minority influence 
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