The Social Approach

  • Types of Conformity
  • Individual Differences in Conformity
  • Obedience to Authority
  • Implications of research into Conformity and Obedience
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  • Created by: Katie
  • Created on: 07-06-10 22:13


2 Types of Conformity:

1) Compliance

- Going along with the view even though you do not believe it, trying to be normal - 'normative influence'.

2) Internalisation

- Going along with the views and internalising them, can happen in situations where you don't know how to act, so look for others on information on how to - 'informative influence'.

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Asch - Normative Influence

  • lab. ex., independent groups.
  • unambiguous task - one where the answer is clear (used a control group to show this).
  • groups of 8, pp's judged line lengths by saying which one matched the standard line.
  • only one pp in ex., rest confederates.
  • each pp did 18 trials, in which 12 the confederates gave the wrong answer.
  • people conformed to the majority 37% of the time.
  • 75% of people conformed at least once.
  • Eval: lab ex - good control of variables & minimises effect of extraneous variables & can repeat study, however lacks ecological validity as it was not a natural situation, ethics - deceived.
  • Asch's participants were influenced by situational factors: Group size, Social Support.
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Cultural Differences in Conformity

Smith and Bond

  • Meta-analysis of over 20 cross-cultural Asch-like studies.
  • Average conformity rate was 30%.
  • Highest rate was 58% conformity from Indian teachers in Fiji.
  • Lowest rates recorded in England and Belgium.
  • Conformity levels vary depending on culture.
  • Eval: meta-analysis - increased sample size, meta-analysis can ignore/avoid important individual results.
  • The findings can be explained by looking at individualistic and collectivist cultures.
  • Individualist cultures value independence, eg. the UK.
  • Collectivist cultures are more focused on the needs of the whole group, eg. communist China.
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Aspects that can influence Independent Behaviour

Internal Locus of Control - more likely to produce independent behaviour as they feel they have control over their behaviour.

External Locus of Control - more likely to conform.

Low self-esteem - more likely to conform.

Crutchfield proposed that there might be a conforming personality type.

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  • Lab ex.
  • Tested whether people would obery orders to shock someone in a seperate room.
  • 40 men responded to newspaper ad. seeking volunteers.
  • Received payment for attending.
  • Each pp was introduced to a confederate (who they assumed was a pp) who acted as the 'learner'.
  • Real pp acted as the 'teacher' - initiating shocks.
  • 65% administered the full 450V and none stopped before 300V.
  • Most showed obvious signs of stress during; sweating, groaning.
  • Con: ordinary people will obey orders to hurt someone else, even if it meant acting against their consciences.
  • Eval: Pps believed experiment - internal validity, but possibly demand characteristics, not real-life so lacks ecological validity, lab. ec., good control of variables, can establish cause and effect. ethics! werent informed of right to withdraw, but were debriefed.
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Factors Affecting Obedience

1) Presence of Allies

2) Proximity of the Victim

3) Proximity of the authority

Milgram's Agency Theory:

- When people behave on behalf of an external authority they are in an 'agentic state', acting as someones agent rather than taking responsibility for the actions.

- Binding factors keeping participants in agentic state: pressure of the surroundings, the insistence of the authority figure, pp's had already been paid so felt obliged to continue.

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Why People Obey

1) An Agentic State

2) Gradual Commitment - gradually agreeing in small steps making it harder and harder to refuse.

3) Justified Authorities - we listen to and recognise authority; parents, police, doctors etc.

4) Buffers - protect us from the consequences of our actions, cannot see or hear victim.

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Why People Resist Obedience

1) Presence of Allies

2) Individual Differences (high moral reasoning, not being in an Agentic State, boomerang effect - doing the opposite of what they're told as they feel they have been pushed too far.)

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Natasha Guest

there is also identification in which you go along with something as you desire to be like them


Ha DANNY so this must be Katies work then :) sticking up for your woman blessss ;) heheheheh


aww you two are so alike!

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