Social Influence Revision Notes

  • Created by: Rita Mab
  • Created on: 22-04-18 14:58

Social Influence Revision Notes

Types of Conformity:

Compliance - Public conformity to the behaviour or view of the group but holding individual beliefs privately.

Identification - Adopting the views and beliefs publicly and privately because you value membership in the group but going back to your old views once you’ve left.

Internalisation - Actually converting your views to match those of the group and maintaining this both publicly and privately. Views do not change upon leaving the group.

JENNESS (1932) - The role of discussion in changing opinion

Jenness concluded that the judgements of individuals are affected by majority opinions, especially in ambiguous or unfamiliar situations. Discussion is not effective in changing opinion, unless the individuals who enter into the discussion become aware that the opinions of others are different to theirs.

Explanations of Conformity:

Normative social influence - Based on a desire to be liked. The power of the social group to reward/punish is recognised and this leads to a conflict between self and group opinion. This causes compliance.

Informational social influence - Based on a desire to be right. The need to certainty and information leads to referral to the social group and then causes identification/internalisation.


  • Research support for information social influence: Lucas et al. (2006) asked students to  give answers to mathematical problems that were easy or difficult. There was greater conformity to incorrect answers when they were more difficult. This supports ISI because when the right answer is unknown then conforming to others answers is desirable. 
  • Research support for normative social influence: Social norms intervention - ‘Most of Us’ campaign.


  • Individual differences in normative social influence: It does not affect everyone in the same way. People who don’t care about being liked/disliked are less likely to be influence by NSI. nAffiliators are those who have a greater need to be liked by the group and are therefore more likely to conform.
  • NSI and ISI cannot be separated because they are in the dual process model: It is hard to distinguish why people decide to conform in real life situations unless you were to ask them directly.

Variables Affecting Conformity:

ASCH (1956) - The effect of social influence on conformity

On the 12 critical trials, the average conformity rate was 33%. When Asch interviewed his participants afterwards, he discovered that the majority of participants who conformed had continued privately to trust their own perceptions and judgements, but changed their public behaviour, giving incorrect answers to avoid disapproval from other group members (i.e. they showed compliance). 

Group size - Asch found that there was very little conformity when the majority consisted of just one or two confederates. However, under the pressure of a majority of three confederates, the proportion of conforming responses jumped up to about 30%. Further increases in the size of the majority did not increase this level of conformity substantially, indicating that the size of the majority is important but only up to a point.

The unanimity of the majority


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