Unit 2 Psychology Social Influence

All of social influence of AQA Psychology

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  • Created on: 11-05-14 14:33


  • Conformity- Changing our attitudes and behaviour in response to social pressure, social pressure can be real or imaginary.
  • Compliance- conform pubically to views/behavious expressed by others, continue to disagree privately. Personal views not change.
  • Identification- exposed to views of others, change own views in public and private to fit, feel sense of group membership, be like people they admire, change may be temporary.
  • Internalisation- views of group internalised, taken on deep permanent level, part of person's own way viewing world.
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Dual Process Dependency Model

  • People conform of need to be accepted and belong to group.
  • Belonging may be rewarding/benificial, or group have power punish/exclude those who don't fit.
  • Can be compliance- conform even if privately still disagree, surface conformity.
  • Unsure how to behave and/or think about an issue, so copy others.
  • Have need to be right- majority act certain way make sense majority right so comply to them.
  • If turns out wrong, then they are not the only one that was wrong.
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Asch (1951)

  • AIM- assess outcome when people confronted with wrong majority judgment to see if they would conform to it.
  • PROCEDURE- 123 male students- "task of visual perception" group 7-9 people, all confederates accept one.
  • Shown 2 cards- 1 of standard line, 1 of 3 comparison lines, called out in turn which of 3 lines matched the standard line.
  • 18 trials- confederates gave same wrong answer 12/18 times, 6 longer, 6 shorter than line.
  • Real participant 2nd from last so exposed to wrong majority repeatedly before answer.
  • FINDINGS- 5% conform every critical trial, 25% independent, 75% conform at least once.
  • Conformed due to- doubted own eyes, knew wrong but went along, became anxious/stress.
  • CONCLUSION- people more likely to conform than remain independent, we are affected by group social influence.
  • establish cause/effect- confederates manipulate variables- good internal validity.
  • Has been repeated many times with similar results.
  • Historical/cultural context- 1950s America a time of high conformity- Cold War etc..
  • Lack ecological validity and population validity- all male students etc..
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  • AIM- investigate conformity.
  • PROCEDURE- Used the autokinetic effect- look at stationary point of light in dark room, small movements of the eye make the light seem to move.
  • Participants were first tested one at a time, then in groups of three, asked to say how much the light seemed to move and what direction.
  • FINDINGS- Personal norms rapidly developed, norm was stable but varied between individuals, but when people with very different personal norms put together, tended to make judgments very close to eachother.
  • Another condition, individuals tested in 3s first and group norm formed, then tested on own, judgments continue to reflect influence of group.
  • CONCLUSION- group norm rapidly replaces personal norms indicates social influence.
  • lab experiment- high control of variables.
  • Artificial- not clear how relevant findings are to everyday life.
  • There is no correct answer- not surprising individuals rely on others judgments.
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Factors Affecting Conformity

There are four main factors that affect the rate of conformity:

  • Time- Perrin and Spencer
  • Size of majority- Ash
  • Place and culture- Smiff and Bond
  • Immediacy- Cinirella and Green
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Perrin and Spencer

  • AIM- Assess differences in conformity.
  • PROCEDURE- Three groups 1- 33 male students, 2- 20 male students on probation (confederate were their probation officers), 3- 16 young unemployed west indian men.
  • FINDINGS- 1- 1:396 trials conform, virtually non-existant.
  • 2- similar to Ash original experiment.
  • 3- high rates of conformity- white confederate majority over indian men- racial equality.
  • CONCLUSION- strong support cannot generalise conformity rates, which conform depend on many factors.
  • 1980s United Kingdom different to 1950s America- like in Asch original study.
  • high internal validity, shows time is an important factor in conformity rates.
  • Low population validity- all male students- but similar to Asch original experiment.
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  • AIM- see how conformity changes with the size of the majority.
  • PROCEDURE- same procedure as original experiment, but with 1,2,3,4,8,10,15 in group.
  • FINDINGS- 3% conformity with 1 confederate, 33% conformity with 3 confederate, this did not increase much after.
  • At 15 levels drop as real participant suspicious of 15 mad people.
  • Replications show findings robust.
  • CONCLUSION- conformity most effective with 3-5 person majority, less not work, more not have as much effect.
  • In another version, 1 confederate agrees with the participant and conformity lowers dramatically, able to remain independent if small amount support given.
  • high internal validity- lack extraneous variables as lab experiment.
  • Has been repeated with similar values.
  • Cannot generalise due to cultural bias and other conformity factors.
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Smiff and Bond

  • AIM- investigate how conformity changes in different cultures.
  • PROCEDURE- conduct a meta-analysis of research into conformity using Aschs visual perception task.
  • FINDINGS- significant variance in results, highest conformity in Fiji 58%, lowest in Belgium 14%
  • In collectivist cultures average conformity was 37.1%
  • In individualist cultures average conformity was 25.3%
  • CONCLUSION- Culture has an effect on conformity rates.
  • Each individual study may have been conducted slightly differently that could affect the outcome of results obtained.
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Cinirella and Green

  • AIM- investigate effects of technology on cross-culutural variations on conformity.
  • PROCEDURE- Conducted Aschs original experiment face to face (f2f) using computers.
  • Expected differences in f2f, higher in collectivist than individualist.
  • FINDINGS- with f2f, no differences, conformity rates low all round, unable see less conformity.
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The Bystander Effect

  • BYSTANDER EFFECT- the likelihood that an individual will intervene in an emergency decreases as the number of bystanders increases.
  • The bystander effect became widely studied after the case of Catherine Genovese, 38 people witnessed her murder, attacked 3 times over 30 mins.
  • She was stabbed twice, and screamed loud enough to wake people in houses, staggered around a corner out of sight of witnesses.
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Latane and Darley

  • AIM- investigate the bystander effect.
  • PROCEDURE- Uni students invited to discussion of problems in lives of students in urban univerities, when arrived directed to waiting room to complete questionnaire.
  • Some seated alone, others seated 2 other students, soon after seated white smoke entering room through a vent.
  • FINDINGS- when alone 75% reported the problem within 2 minutes.
  • When part of group of 3- only 38% report smoke.
  • In third condition, 2 of 3 students were confederates instructed to remain passive and indifferent, only 10% of real participants reported the smoke.
  • CONCLUSION- The more people that witness an incident, the less likely people are to help.
  • other experiments of different scenarios have found similar results.
  • Cannot generalise to other situations.
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Latane and Rodin

  • AIM- investigate the bystander effect.
  • PROCEDURE- Uni students arrive for marketing research study, seated alone in small room to complete questionnaire, the marketing representative left the room and said she would be working in office next door.
  • Participant heard woman climbing on chair and sudden crash, scream and moaning- pain clear.
  • FINDINGS- When alone 70% participants offered to help, when in a pair only 40% offered help.
  • When other person was confederate instructed to remain passive, fewer than 10% offer help.
  • CONCLUSION- Same as previous study- more people witness an incident, less likely to help.
  • other studies have similar results- consistent.
  • Lack of population validity- all uni students, different age groups act differently.
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  • AIM- Investigate the bystander effect.
  • PROCEDURE- examine newspaper coverage of suicide attempts, focused on crowds gathered below when someon threatening to jump off building/bridge.
  • FINDINGS- newspaper reports showed people large crowds likely start jeering/telling to jump, even more common in dark, larger crowd, lower visibility, increase anonimity.
  • CONCLUSION- anonimity from large group lead more extreme behaviour, sense personal responsibility shifted onto group.
  • study conducted in 1981- out of date, may not happen in todays society.
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Zimbardo- comformity to assigned roles

  • AIM- see if brutality found in many American prisons personality or identification.
  • PROCEDURE- 24 male student volunteers, variety psychological tests select most stable, no violent/anti-social tendencies. Random allocation guard/prisoner.
  • Prisoners arrested at homes on Sunday, deloused, dressed in smocks, reffered by number.
  • Guards had khaki uniform, whistle, dark sunglasses- eyecontact impossible.
  • No physical violence allowed- Zimbardo observed their behaviour.
  • FINDINGS- Within short time, prisoners/guards settle into their roles, guards began harassing prisoners, taunted with insults/petty orders, given pointless/boring tasks to do- dehumanised.
  • Prisoners tried to rebel- ripped off number so guards confiscate blankets, one went on hunger strike, locked in a 4-foot wide cupboard- solitary confidement.
  • Prisoners began to conform more to guards who became more assertive, some prisoners began to show signs of emotional disorder- had to leave, one within 36 hours after signs of early stages of deep depression.
  • The 14 day experiment was called off after 6 days.
  • CONCLUSION- People will readily conform to the roles that they are expected to play, and these roles can shape their behaviour and attitudes.
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Zimbardo- comformity to assigned roles

  • Ecological validity- guards in shifts, prisoners stay full time- participants felt it was real.
  • Right to withdraw- made difficult but some prisoners withdrew due to potential harm.
  • Zimbardo called off- went too far.
  • Debriefed by themselves and in groups.
  • All video, direct observation, interviews.
  • Unrepresentative sample, gender bias, social/cultural bias.
  • Psychological harm, demand characteristics cause guards be excessive.
  • not fully informed consent- not know what would actually happen.
  • Extraneous variables- harsh guard "John Wayne"- act harsh due to film he had seen.
  • Zimbardo too involved- psychologist and prison superintendent at same time- experimentor effects also present.
  • mundane realism- can apply to other situations.
  • explain past happenings- why people act they way that they do.
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  • AIM- to study conformity to assigned roles - similar to Zimbardo.
  • PROCEDURE- mock psychiatric ward in hospital 7 days, observed with video surveillance cameras, 29 hospital staff volunteer be patients held in ward, 22 asked carry out normal duty.
  • FINDINGS- patients behave like real patients- seemed conform to roles been assigned, many show depression/withdrawal, 6 even try to escape.
  • After patients report frustrated, anxious, despairing, some felt lost integrity, weren't treated as people, not tell difference between real and fake patients after 3 days.
  • CONCLUSION- People will conform to the roles that have been assigned to them.
  • supported by Zimbardo, debriefed after.
  • Psychological harm, hospital staff know behaviours of patients better, demand characteristics, cultural bias.
  • Change procedures- felt insane because treated as insane/not human.
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Reicher and Hasalm

  • 2006- research conducted, on The Experiment- broadcast on BBC.
  • Volunteers respond to ad- "How well do you really know yourself"
  • 15male age 22-44 select from 500 applicants, follow psychological testing.
  • 9 prisoners, 6 guards, purpose built prison in film studios.
  • guards unwilling pose authority, prisoners rapidly took charge.
  • both groups attempt establish fair/equal social system, but failed, small group prisoners took charge, experiment called off.
  • Found that tyranny may become acceptable if law/order established breaks down, experience powerlessness.

Findings were very different from Zimbardo/Orlando, but aware of being filmed, rather than hidden observation, also different social/culutral context, social rules 21st Century less clearly defined and authority seen different light from 1970s.

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Social Identity Explanations

  • Meta contrast principle- tendency for group members to see strong similarity to themselves and other members of the group (in-group) and see large differences compared to other social groups (out-group) and vice versa.
  • Relate to schemas, have to categorise to make sense of the world, categorise people as memebers of a group, then have group identity with in-group separate from other out-groups.
  • Tajfel
  • minimal group experiment, first show importance group membership/belonging.
  • 14-15yr old boys in Bristol random allocation to 2 groups, bias preference of 1 artist over another, played game allocate points could exchange for money to own/other group.
  • Constant choice more points to own group, even if more reward to give equal, e.g. (2 own group, or 5 to each group)
  • Tendency favour ones own group and discriminate against the other, have personal identity and social identity, define by social group belong to- e.g. female, Asian etc..
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Social Impact Theory

Both majoirty and minority influence involve no. people divide to sources and targets, sources provide influence, targets are influenced. The amount of impact depends on:

  • 1- strenght, importance, power status of people providing influence (source)
  • 2- immediacy, psychological, physical, social distance of person.
  • 3- no. people provide influence, as increases in numbers gathers progressively.
  • As no. people increase impact each person has is less, negatively accelerating +ve function
  • Hogg and Vaughan- 1 light dark room lots impact, second light less effect etc...
  • Hart, Stasson and Korav- impact strength immediacy on social influence, 3 groups 2 naive, 1 confederate, rate 40 uni applicants, immediacy manipulated confederate 4feet, 10feet, strength by student or expert.
  • Expert more impact, only in low impact further away, no difference high impact- immediacy not important factor.
  • Tanford and Penrod- minority influence increase, as size minority does, adds less to cumulative inpact.
  • Claim ceiling of influence reached at 3/4 defectors, 4 in minority equal amount influence as 5 or 10, further defectors weaken rather than strengthen minority position.
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Milgram- obedience to authortiy

  • AIM- see how long participants would obey an order before refusing when asked to treat strangers in an inhumane way.
  • PROCEDURE- ad for male volunteers local paper, $4.50 do study "memory and learning"
  • 40 from range backgrounds, attent lab Yale University, greet by experimentor 31 yr old, white coat, introduce other participant "Mr Wallace"- a confederate, fixed allocation of real participant as teacher, fake as learner, put in separate rooms, but teacher could hear
  • Sat in front of box with switches from 15v-450v, slight (15-60), moderate (75-120), strong (135-180), intense (255-300), danger (375-420), *** (435-450)
  • Read to learner series word pairs, test recall, indicate by switch, incorrect then give shock.
  • FINDINGS- 14 of 40 nervous laughing fits, many repeatedly argue all went up to 300v 65% went up to maximum 450v, despite pressure 35% managed to defy orders.
  • CONCLUSION- people will obey orders despite being against them if put under pressure, they will blame the person in charge for the consequences of their actions.
  • EVALUATION- deception, difficult to withdraw, lack internal/external validity- not occur real life, participants see through deception, cash incentive, sample bias, demand characteristics.
  • high control, lack extraneous variables, debriefed, standard procedures for each participant.
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Variations of Milgram

  • Choose Shock level                                        3%
  • See two other not obedient teachers            10%
  • Experimenter is an ordinary person              20%
  • Experimenter gives orders over phone         23%
  • Force learners hand onto plate                    30%
  • Teacher and learner in same room               40%
  • In an office not a University                           48%
  • Original set up                                              65%

Percentage of participants who went up to the maximum voltage of 450v.

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Hofling et al.

  • AIM- investigate obedience in a realistic environment.
  • PROCEDURE- 22 night nurses were phoned by a "Dr Smith" and asked to look for a drug called astroten with a maximum dosage of 10mg. The doctor asks them to give 20mg to a patient called Mr Jones. If the drug was administered, 3 rules would be broken, no orders over the phone, don't go over max dosage, don't use unauthorised drugs- it wasn't on the stock list.
  • Drug was actually a sugar pill and Dr Smith a fake doctor.
  • FINDINGS- 21/22 nurses easily influenced to carry out the orders, they were stopped on the way by a confederate who debriefed them- many argue order not unusual, expect obedience.
  • CONCLUSION- People are very unwilling to question supposed authority even when they may have good reason to.
  • High ecological validity- real life environment.
  • Deception used- not a real doctor.
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  • AIM- investigate obedience.
  • PROCEDURE- Field experiment in New York, ask passers by to do an unusual order- e.g. pick up rubbish, stand on other side of bus stop, lend money for parking meter.
  • 1/2 of the time man asking was dressed as a security guard, 1/2 of the time in normal clothes.
  • FINDINGS- 92% of people obeyed and gave money when in the uniform.
  • 49% of people obeyed when in normal clothes.
  • CONCLUSION- people will obey those that they percieve as having authority.
  • ecological validity as carried out in natural environment- but not usually asked to do orders that were given by the person.
  • Population bias- opportunity sample unlikely representative of sample.
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Explanations of why people obey

  • Gradual commitment- "foot in the door" phenomenon, start to show commitment to a task, start something and continue, becomes harder to back down/change mind
  • Milgram- as voltage increase harder to back down, gone up to 300v may as well carry on.
  • Agency theory- Milgram explained have 2 states behaviour with social situation:
  • autonomous state- act to own values, responsibility own results of actions- independent.
  • Agentic state- allow orders direct, pass responsibility person giving order- act as agent for other person's will.
  • To get an agentic state 2 things happen:
  • Percieved as being qualified to direct others- legitimate.
  • Person being ordered, authority accept responsibility for what happens.
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Explanations of why people obey

  • Situational buffers- Buffer= aspect of situation protects people having confront consequences of their actions.
  • Milgram- hold learners hand on plate 30% up to 450v lower than original- explain with buffers.
  • personality factors- authoritarian personality- Theodore Ardono argue people this tendency be extremly obedient, hostile to those seem inferior, intolerant ambiguity, servile to superior, rigid, contemptuous of weakness.
  • Upbringing: harsh, punishing, little affection shown, latent hostility to parents. Unconscious hostility to parents displaced to minorty groups.
  • Perception of legitimate authority-  obligated hose power respect credentials and assume they know what they are doing.
  • Power of the uniform- perception of legitimate authority.
  • Hofling- supposed Dr Smith percieved as authority.
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Independent Behaviour

  • when an individual acts according to their own values.
  • They may conform/obey but only if they agree with the norms/orders.
  • They have ability to resist pressures to conform or obey.

There are two categories of factors that influence independent behaviour:

  • Situational factors: relate to situation an individual is in.
  • Dispositional factors: relating to the individual.
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Situational Factors

  • Perception of legitimate authority- Who they percieve as having the authority to give orders, e.g. in Zimbardo's prison experiment one prisoner went on hunger strike- not see guards as the legitimate authority, no power over them so not obey.
  • Bickman- took off uniform more resist obedience, not percieve as authority any more.
  • Buffers- people from have to confront actions- e.g. Hofling- buffer of phone, not obey, not directly told, and against rules.
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Situational Factors

  • Support of an ally- normative influence- people not actively resist pressures to conform due to fear of rejection/ridicule, finding an ally will build confidence and aid resistance, no longer face unanimous majority.
  • e.g in Asch- conformity levels dropped to 8.7% with social support from an ally.
  • Prior commitment- once people pubically commit to an opinion, less likely to change position than if first opinion is held privately.
  • e.g Deutsch and Gerard- variation of Ash demonstrate prior commitment, naive participant give judgment before confederates give unanimously different answer, when offere chance to reconsider, participants almost never did.
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Dispositional Factors

  • Locus of Control- Rotter
  • Extent to which an individual believes they are in control of their destiny (Internal LOC) or are at the mercy of events, chance or fate (external LOC).
  • It is usually measured along a scale.
  • With high locus of control:
  • active seekers of information, less likely rely on opinions of others.
  • More achievement orientated so are more likely to be leaders.
  • Better able to resist coercion (control) from others.
  • e.g. Avtgis- meta analysis of studies which considred locus of control and conformity, those scored higher on external locus of control were more easily persuaded and likely to conform than those with high locus of control.
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Dispositional Factors

  • Moral development- extent to which individuals take into account moral values, the impact their descisions and actions on others and on society as a whole.
  • The higher moral development, more likely to remain independent.
  • e.g. Elms and Milgram- people who are more likely to show independent behaviour score higher on a social responsibility scale than people who conform/obey.
  • Personality factors- people with authoritarian personality more likely to to conform, but some aspects make people more resistant to pressures.
  • e.g. Crutchfield- proposed people more likely show independent behaviour higher self esteem, intelligence, less need social approval, than people who obey/conform.
  • e.g. Crowne and Marlowe- also found people score low in need for social approval are more likely to show independent behaviour than those high on the scale.
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Majority vs minority influence

  • majorities maintain the status quo, promoting uniformity and exerting pressure on those deviating.
  • Minority influence is associated with change and innovation as the ideas cause social conflict and cause the majority to examine the arguments proposed by the majority.
  • For minority influence to work, there must be conversion in those from the majority.
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  • Majorities and minorities achieve influence through different processes:
  • Majority influence- public compliance (outwardly agree but still may inwardly disagree), person more concerned with how they appear in front of others rather than issue itself, majority exert normative social influence to gain compliance from minority.
  • Minority influence- use informational social influence to persuade those in majoirty to change their views, minorities are aiming for conversion rather than compliance, minority hopes by focusing on the issue, majority will examine their arguments. This may start the process of conversion whereby attitudes begin to shift, even if only in private.
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Conditions for social change

  • Consistent- minority must be consistent in their opinion, considered to be single most important factor.
  • Flexible and non-dogmatic- minority must not appear too rigid or dogmatic (forcibly asserting their opinions)
  • Relevant- minority will be more successful if their views are in line with social trends.
  • Committed- a committed minority will lead people to rethink their position.
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The Snowball Effect

  • Occurs when the minority convert a small group of people to their views.
  • This small group then convert other people. Over time, this original minority view can become the view of the majority.


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Social Cryptoamnesia

  • Minority ideals are assimilated to majority viewpoint without those in the majority remembering where the ideas came from.
  • The minority may be viewed negatively, the minority ideas are so strongly associated with their source that others do not want to adopt these ideas and risk being identified as part of the source.
  • If the ideas can be detached from their source, the majority can resist overt identification.
  • Process of conversion is therefore slow as minority ideas were initially resisted purely because of the source of those ideas.
  • Over time the ideas become detached from their source and begin to reappear in the individuals mind as their own.
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Social Change

  • New idea challenges majority views
  • Informational social influence e.g. effects smoke inhalation on health.
  • Internalisation: conversion of a few who become the minority- conditions for social change.
  • Snowball effect: minority becomes majority.
  • Compliance to the majority norm- normative social influence.
  • Social cryptoamnesia- forget where idea came from.
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