Social Psychology

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  • Created on: 03-05-15 17:36

Types of Conformity

CONFORMITY - often occurs when on person changes their behaviour to fit in with a larger group of group (majority influence) e.g. starting to listen to a particular type of music to fit in

Different types of Conformity

COMPLIANCE - shallow conformity- person confrom out loud with the views but secretly disagrees (public agree/privately disagree) e.g. laughing at a joke when you don't find it funny - comply to gain group acceptance

INTERNALISATION - deep conformity- person is persuaded by the argument and takes them on board both publically and privately e.g. converting religion

IDENTIFICATION - temporarily cahnging your views and opinions in order to fit in society e.g. changing one's clothes to fit in to the society - not stand out 

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Research to support Conformity


A) purpose to see if the non-confederate ps comforms 

P) asked 123 male American student volunteers to take part in a 'vision test' - all but one ps confederates - ps asked to look at 3 lines of different lengths - which line was the same length as the standard line - confederates deliberately chose wrong lines

F) 36.8% of ps chose wrong lines along with confederates

:( Tested only 123 male americans - does not apply to rest of the population - lacks population validity

:( Artificial - cannot be related to real life situations = not true representation

:( ethical issues = deception, not protected from psychological stress

:( high demand characteristics - forcing ps to behave in a certain way (pressure)

:) good control over variables & quantitative data - easy to colate, analyse & present findings

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Research to support Conformity


P) meta-analysis on 133 studies on collectivist and individualistic countries on conformity

F) conformity was more common in collectivist countries as they make decisions together as a community (e.g. Japan) than individualistic countries like the UK

:( Too simplified - other cultures may feel that their task is more meaningful than others. 

:) meta-analysis = varied results

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Why do people conform?


- conformity compliance, majority control, humans = social companionship - fear of rejection & pressure


- changing publically & privately, influence. internalisation, persuasive minority/majority


P) asked ps to estimate how far a stationary spot of light moved in a dark room - placed 3 groups and repeated task

F) ps changed their original anwswers when in groups - ps who were unsure conformed - looked for others for the correct answers

:) established cause & effect - researcher knew that the cause of the manipulated variable effected dependent - high levels of control (lab exp) = reliable - easy replication

:( lacks ecological validity & internal validity - artifical - high demand characteristics 

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OBEDIENCE - a form of direct influence whereby an individual follows instructions from someone in authority (e.g. obeying a boss)


P) 40 male ps - recruited local paper - carried out Yale Uni - teacher (ps) & students (confederates) - memory test - when student got a question wrong = electrick shock (increased each time) 15v-450v

F) despite showings signs of stress & protesting, all 40ps reached 300v - 65% reached 450v

C) ordinary people can do extraordinary things when put under pressure

:( high ethical issues = protection from harm, debrief, informed consent, right to withdraw (altthough people withdrew - pressured to stay)

:( Yale Uni -artifical setting - behaviour = unnatural 

:( demand characteristics = setting and inspector can affect behaviour 

:( lacks ecological validity = cannot be true representation of why people obey - not natural 

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Yale Uni --> run down building = voice feedback (62.5% obeyed) - learner & teacher in another room - teacher could hear learner protest through the walls

Face to Face Instructions --> telephone = (21% obeyed) - proxmity not close

In Different Room ---> same room (face to face) = can hear and see pain - less likely to obey - more sympathy 

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Charges made against Milgram

CONSENT - although there was some degree of deception, it denied the ps the right to an informed consent as they were decieved

DEFENCE - revealing the nature of the study leads to DC as ps know the nature of the experiment - study will not be valid 

RIGHT TO WIRTHDRAW - Milgram did not give the ps a right to withdraw, the investigators put excessive amount of pressure for ps to continue

DEFENCE - Milgram demonstrated the fact that ps knew they had the right to withdraw and were free to leave - some ps did 

PSYCHOLOGICAL HARM - Baumrind attacked Milgram's study claiming that he placed his ps in a great deal of emotional stress - cannot be justified

DEFENCE - Milgram did not know prior to the study taht such high levels of stress would be caused - he asked the ps after a year if they found the experience distressing - 84% felt fine 

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Obedience in the Field


P) natural experiment - 22 (real) nurses & Dr Smith (fake) who calls hospital (on 22 separate occassions) and asked them to check to see if they have astroten (drug) - max dosage =  10mg, Dr Smith asked 20mg - medicine not real - nurses not allowed to take orders by phone

F) 21/22 influenced to carry on the orders

C) Hofling demonstrated that people are very unwilling to question supposed 'authority' even when they might have good reason to

:) high ecological validty - real life situation 

:( ethical issues - deception - doctor was not real

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Why do people Obey?


A LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY FIGURE - we are more likely to obey when told to do something by some who has power & authority ---> Milgram's study = obedience decreased when the experinmenter had less authority - Hofling's study = 21/22 nurses obeyed Doctor Smith

GRADUAL COMMITTMENT - In Milgram's study - people drawn to obedience by given a small order that slightly increased each time - more committed - harder to back out (e.g. obeying the law)

THE AGENTIC STATE - Milgram also developed a theory of why people obey - AUTONOMOUS person (free-will) - AGENTIC (employed) ---> In Milgram's study - ps constantly asked who was responsible showing that they did not want to be held responsible - Hofling's study - nurses acted as an agent - carrying out Dr's orders

THE ROLE OF BUFFERS - Milgram argued that teachers were shielded from the horror as the learner were in the other room - wall provided a psychological 'buffer' ---> when Milgram removed barriers - obedience reduced 

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Why do people resist to conform?

ROLE OF ALLIES - helps us resist to pressure to conformity as allies give people confidence to resist - e.g. Asch's Line Study - the variation of adding an ally for the participants meant there was less comformity (15%) compared to when the participants were on their own (37%)

EFFECT OF ACTIONS - e.g. Milgram's study - could hear the victim's screams - less likely to obey

STATUS AUTHORITY - level of obedience dropped when Milgram changed the location form university to a rundown office 

:( does not take into account the individual differences - it depends on their personality and tehir own level of obedience - everyone responds differently in different situations and will resist pressures in a different way

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Locus of Control

LOCUS OF CONTROL is measured using a multi-item questionnaire that produces a score indication an internal of external locus of control.

INTERNAL  - believe strongly that they are in control of their own lives and they can alter what happens

EXTERNAL  - believe strongly that most things are outside their control - this may be with their parents, government, fate or luck

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Research about Locus of Control

OBEDIENT PEOPLE - some studies have suggested that more obedient people have external locus of control

AUTGIS found that people with ELC were more likely to easily persuaded and more likely to conform

WILLIAMS & WARCHAL found that conformers were less assertive but did not score differently to non-conformists on an LC test

INDEPENDENT PEOPLE- less obedience = more indepedent have ILC

OLINER & OLINER interviewed 406 Germans who had sheltered Jews from Nazis - they scored high social responsibility and had ILC

ELMS & MILGRAM found that disobedient ps in Milgram's study had high social responsibility (ILC)

TWENGE - found that between 1960-2002 - high ELC - some of the reasons for this was change = low school achievements = low self control & depression - more youths today believe their lives are controlled by external factors

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Social Change

SOCIAL CHANGE - when society as a whole adopts a new belief or way of behaving whcih then becomes widely accepted as the norm (e.g. homosexuality)

MINORITY INFLUENCE - a form of social influence where people reject the establisehed norm of majority of group members and moves to the position of the minority


DRAWING ATTENTION - the minority group does influence majority through different means (protests of suffragetes) - can sometimes create conflict 

ROLE OF CONFLICT - to resolve this conflict the majority must look/investigate the issue further

CONSISTENCY - the minority group remains consistent in their cause to bring about social change

AUGMENTATION PRINCIPLES - the principle sates that if the minority are willing to take risks for their point of view then the majority are more likely to investigate and take more seriously - impact increased 

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Evaluation of Social Change


DRAWING ATTENTION - the suffragettes used a variet of educational, politcal and occassionally militant tactics to draw attention to the fact that women were denied the same political rights as men

ROLE OF CONFLICT - having exposed the views, the suffragetters were met with conflict - advocating something that was different to the current ways

CONSISTENCY - the suffragettes were consistent in expressing their views, regardless of the attitudes of those around them - their fight for votes lasted for another 15 years

AUGMENTATION PRINCIPLES - some were imprisoned - willing to suffer to make their point 


- the tendency of most people to along with the crowd simply maintain the status quo is perhaps why social change is low 

- majority group tend to avoid agreeing with deviant minority - don't want to seem deviant 

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