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Independent behaviour resisting social influence

In several studeies we've looked at, many people have conformed or obeyed when there has been pressure to put on them to do so. However, there may also have been people in these studies that have resisted th pressure put on them and refused to conform or obey. This refusal is known as resisting social influence, or behaving independently.

Asch's study: 24 per cent of people did not conform to the conederates' estimates at any point.

Milgram's study: thirty five per cent of participants inthe original study disobeyed the experimenter and refused to give the full four hundred andfifty volt shock.

In HOfling et al's study only one nurse resisted the order from doctor smith to administer Astroten to a patient.

Several factors make a person more likely to resist social influence or behave independently. These are divided into situational and disposisitional factors. Situational factors refer to the speciific situation, the person is in when they are experiencing social influence, dispositional factors refer to how thetype of person you are affects your level of independent behaviour. 

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Independent behaviour situational factors

In which versions of MIlgram's experiment was the obedience low?

1. setting-low status

2. Proximity to victim-high

3. Proximity to authority- low

4. social support-others disobeying

Ghamson Fireman and Rytina

Gamson et al set up a situation where the participant were encouraged to rebel against an unjust authority. The researchers placewd an advert in a newspaper asking for volunteers to take part in a paid group discussion on standard behaviour in the community. The participants were split into groups where the discussion was to take place, on standard behaviour in the community. The participants were split into large groups where the discussion was to take place, HOliday Inn. The groups were made up of nine people and they met by an actor who claimed to be a human relations consultant. The fake compnay was called 'manufacturers Human Relations Consultants' A man explained that hthe compnay was conducting research for an oil company whcih was taking legal action against a petrol statoin manager. They argued that the manager had been sackeded because his lifestye was offensive to the local community. The manhager argued that he was sacked because he had spoken out on the tV bout hight petrol prices. Particcipants were asked to take part in a group discussion about the sacking and it was filmed. The discussion showed the viewss the [participants were irrelevant and the HR company wanted them to argue in favour of the sacking. At a number of points during the discussion the cameraman stopped the camera and told them to argue in favour of the oil comany''s decision to sack the manager. Finally the partial participants were asked to sign a consent form allowing the film to be shown in a court case.


Out of thirty three groups tested by Gamson et al, thirty two rebelled in some way. In twenty five out of thirty two groups the majority of group members refused to sign the sconsent form. In nine groups they threatened legal action against the HR company. Rebellion against authority in this context involved challlenging two well established social norms in thie situation, the norm of obedience and the norm of commitment, both of which participants had agreed in by taking part.

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Independent behaviour resisting social influence 2

Evaluating Gamson, Fireman and Rytina:


high realism so situation unusual but participants behaviour likely to be free from demand characteristics as they were unaware that they were takig part in a research study.

neg: etthical:

Participants did not have fuoll informed consent

Protection from harm was not guaranteed here as the particpants went through a stressful experience.

Difficult to separate the factors that may have led to disobedience in this study. Rebellion could have been influenced by factors such as being seen to lie on film infourt, as well as the gropu nature of the decision. Perhaps the rebellion was not a result of the IV alone.

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Independent behaviour Summing up situational reaso

Authority figure's legitimacy is challenged, e.g. Milgram experiment in office block- less prestigious venue.

Responsibility for the individual is high, e.g. MIlgram touch proximity experiment

Importance of a group in strengthening disobedience- when a gropu of people all disagree with the authority obedience is lowered, e.g. Milgram eperiment when two peers rebel plus in Gamson, Firemean and Rytina.

REactance: where individuals reactagainst being told to do somethihn unjust by doing the exact opposite, like Gamson, Fireman and Rytina's study.

Systematic procwessing: Individuals more likely to display independent behaviour when given plenty of time to think carefully as to what htey are going to do, given time in Gamson's study. 

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Independent behaviour Individual differences

Gender Differences:

Eagly andCarli, 1981, conducted a meta-analysis on research into conformity and found that generally womean are more lilely to conform than men. A possible explanation is that owmen are more interpersonally oriented and more concerned with social relationships.

Personali8ty Characteristics:

CRutchfield, 1955 said that conformers tended to have lower self esteem compared with non conformers. Also tended to be less intellignnent and highter need for social approval wheras non conformers tended to be more self confident and more leadership abilities.

Loss of Control:

Definition: The sense of control people have over the successes, failures and events in their lives, measured ona scale.

Rotter, 1966, proposed that people with a strong internal ocus of control largely believe that htye deserved what htey got and that they'd caused it, in contrast with those with an external locus of control who believe that other factors than themselves caused something to happen.

Exammple of internal locus of control: 'I got promoted- it must have been down to my hard work.#

Example of external locus of control: 'I got promoted because the boss was in a good mood.'

Elms and Milgram 1974, found that disobedient participants scored high on intenral locus of control and felt personality ws in control and repsonsible for their actions so less likely to treat the 'learner' harshly, despite being told to do so by the experimenter. People with high external locus of control felt the experimenter was the one with hwhom responsibility rested and therefore more than likely to obey.

Oliner and Oliner, 1988 found that non Jewish people liing trought he Holocaust who had an internal locus of control were more likely to protect and rescu Jews than people with an external locus of control.

Williams and Marchal, 1981, found that conformers were particularly non assertive but did not score differently on the locus of control scale, which implies that assertion maybe more dimportant than locus of control r.e. conformity.

However, Avtgis, 1998, carried out a meta analysis that found conformers tend to score higher on external locus of control measures. 

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Independent behaviour Developing Independent Behav

Some degree of conidence and conformity is usefuol in society, for example, completing homework when a parent or teacher tells youto because you have a wealth  of wisdom and experience, sarcastic winky face -> ;)

However, as you have seen, mindless obedience and conformity can be a negative thing if it harms others in some way. REsearchers have consequently asked whther it is possible to promote independent behaviour in individuals.

Nemeth and Chiles: 188

48 male ppts were polaced in groups of five with four actrual people and one confederate. 

Asked to judge  the colour of a series of blue slides.

four conditions with a consitent and inconsitstent confed who called some or all of the slides green. 

In the second part of the experiment, the ppts were in groups of four pnfederates and one ppt and shown red slides. Agan the confed said orange for some or all slides.

Those who didn't conform in min influence didn't in maj influence. 

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