Psychology- Social Influence

Social Influence
Process by which our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are affected by other people.
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Change in behaviour/opinions as result of real/imagined pressure from a person or group of people.
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Conform publicly, but privately not changing opinions/behaviour. Superficial change. Temporary. eg. laughing along at a joke that we regard as not funny.
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Conform publicly and privately because we identify with the group, because there is something we value about the group. Often temporary, only in presence of the group. e. supporting new football team in each city you move to. eg. Zimbardo.
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Conform publicly and privately because we genuinely accept the group norms. Permanent, persists even in absence of group. eg. becoming a vegetarian because roommate was vegetarian and listened to views.
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Informative Social Influence
Look to majority for information as we are uncertain about what behaviours/beliefs are right/ wrong. Cognitive process. Situations new to a person, where there is ambiguity or an expert. Internalisation.
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Normative Social Influence
Typical behaviour of social groups, don't want to gain social approval. Emotional process. Situation where concerned about rejection.
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Strengths of Explanations for Social Influence
Research support for ISI- Lucas et al- easy and difficult maths questions, greater conformity to incorrect answers when questions were difficult and with students who rated own ability as poor. High validity. Research support for NSI.
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Weaknesses of Explanations for Social Influence
Individual differences in ISI and NSI-doesn't affect all people in the same way eg. those less concerned with being liked are less affected by NSI. ISI and NSI work together, so isn't possible to establish which one is at work.
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Asch's Research
Tested conformity by asking American male undergraduates to answer aloud which 'comparison line' matches the 'standard line' in length. Answers were obvious, but naive pps conformed to wrong answers the actors gave. 75% conformed at least once.
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Variations of Asch's Research
Group size- conformity rose with no. actors (1-3). Unamity- non-conforming ally reduced conformity. Task difficulty- ambiguous, conformity increased (informational social influence). Write it down- reduced conformity (informational social influence).
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Weaknesses of Asch's Research
Unrepresentative sample- male, American undergraduates (Asch effect= inconsistent across time, cultures , genders.) Artificial tasks (demand characteristics/ low mundane realism= can't generalise to everyday. Ethical issues.
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Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment
Mock prison, randomly assigned roles of guards and prisoners to 'emotionally stable' students. Prisoners issued uniforms and numbers, guards uniforms and sunglasses. Guards conducted frequent headcounts and punishments. Conformed to social roles.
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Strengths of Zimbardo's Prison Experiment
Control over variables (emotionally stable pps and randomly assigned roles= high internal validity= easily generalised). Prisoners' conversations show situation was real to them= high internal validity.
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Weaknesses of Zimbardo's Prison Experiment
Only 1/3 behaved brutally, rest applied rules fairly or helped prisoners= Zimbardo exaggerates conformity= incomplete explanation. Ethical issues- right to withdraw, psychological/ physical harm. Were pps acting (stereotypes)? = low internal validity
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Complying with a direct order from a legitimate authority.
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'Teacher' (pp) required to give 'learner' (actor) a (fake) electric shock each time the learner made a mistake. 300 volts, learner pounded on door and no longer responded. Experimenter prompted. 65% went to max 450 volts. 100% exceeded 300 volts.
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Strengths of Milgram's Research
Field experiment in hospital- high levels of obedience of nurses in unjustified demands from doctors= high ecological validity. Replications in french TV show and with puppies= high reliability and internal validity.
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Weaknesses of Milgram's Research
Lab experiment= lacks ecological validity. Pps didn't believe electric shocks were real? (tapes show many expressed doubt= low internal validity Social identity theory- identified with science, so obeyed (prompts). Ethical issues- deceit...
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Milgram's Situational Variables
Milgram changed several factors that he believed influenced levels of obedience. External factors. Decreased obedience from og (65%) Proximity- victim in room= 45%. Experimenter phoned = 20.5%. Location- run-down office- 47.5%. Uniform- normal= 20%.
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Strengths of Milgram's Situational Variables
Research support (field experiment)- obedience increased with security guard uniform instead of suit and tie= high ecological validity. High levels of control= high internal validity. Cross-cultural replications- conclusions not limited to Americans.
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Weaknesses of Milgram's Situational Variables
Many worked out that the procedure was faked due to extra manipulation of situation= demand characteristics and low internal validity. Most replications conducted in Western societies= not representative/ generalisable.
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Agentic Shift
Agentic state- mental state where no personal responsibility is felt for own behaviour because we believe ourselves to be acting as an agent for an authority figure. Experience anxiety, but still shift from autonomous to agentic state.
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Binding Factors
Aspects of situation that allow person to ignore/ minimise damaging effects of behaviour and reduce moral strain. Milgram's pps spoke as if wanted to quit, but shifted responsibility to victim (foolish to volunteer) or denied damage.
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Strengths of Agentic Shift in Explaining Obedience
Research support- pps shown film of Milgram's study blamed experimenter due to legitimate authority (social hierarchy) and expert authoirty (scientist)- increases validity of explanation.
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Weaknesses of Agentic Shift in Explaining Obedience
Limited explanation- doesn't explain why some pps didn't obey (all part of social, hierarchy so should be influence same way) and doesn't explain why Holfling's nurses didn't show anxiety- agentic shift can only account for some situations.
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Legitimacy of Authority
More likely to obey people who are percieved to have authority over us. This authority is justified/ legitimate due to position w/i social hierarchy. People we trust to exercise authority appropriately. Learn acceptance of authority during childhood.
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Strengths of Legitimate Authority in Explaining Obedience
Cultural differences can be explained- replicated Milgram's study and found in some cultures, authority is more likely to be accepted as legitimate, producing higher obedience rates. Supportive cross-cultural research increases validity.
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Dispositional Explanations
Internal characteristics/ personality that leads to be more/less obedient.
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Investigated causes of obedience in 2000 m/c, white Americans. F-scale used to measure authoritarian personality (susceptible to obedience- rigid, conventional views, prejudice, submissive to superiors, dismissive of inferiors).
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What did Adorno conclude was the cause of the authoritarian personality?
Formed in childhood due to harsh parenting (conditional love) which creates resentment/ hostility unable to be expressed towards parents- fears are displaced onto others perceived as weaker (scapegoating). Dislike of inferiority= linked to obedience.
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Strengths of Adorno's Research
Research support increases validity- Milgram interviewed fully obedient pps, found scored highly on F-scale= link between obedience and authoritarian personality.
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Weaknesses of Adorno's Research
Correlation doesn't mean cause- can't conclude authoritarian personality causes obedience (third factor?). Limited explanation- hard to explain obedience in majority (unlikely all had authoritarian personality). Political bias= right wing.
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Resistance to Social Influence
Ability to withstand social pressure to conform to majority/obey authority.
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Social Support
Presence of people who resist pressures to conform/ obey can help others do the same. People act as models to show that resistance is possible.
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Strengths of Social Support
Research support- conformity- Asch found conformity reduced by 80% when confederate gave different answers to majority. Research support- obedience- Milgram found rate of obedience dropped from 65% to 10% when joined by disobedient confederate.
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Locus of Control
Sense we have about what directs events in our lives. Internal- mostly responsible. External- mainly matters of outside forces. Internal LOC- more likely to be able to resist pressure as take responsibility for own actions and have personality traits
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Strengths of Locus of Control
Research support- repeated Milgram's study and measured LOC- higher percentage of internals didn't continue to highest shock level- higher validity.
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Weaknesses of Locus of Control
Contradictory research- Twenge et al analysed date from LOC studies over 40 years- pps became more resistant, but more external- challenges link between internal LOC and resistance- reduces validity. LOC= little influence in familiar situations.
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Minority Influence
Small group/ 1 person persuade others to adopt beliefs/ attitudes/ behaviours. Leads to internalisation.
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Keep same beliefs, draws attention to minority. Between people (synchronic consistency) and over time (diachronic consistency).
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Demonstrates dedication to position, shows not acting out of self-interest. Majority pay attention= augmentation principle.
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Can adapt views and accept reasonable/ valid counter-arguments. More off-putting if dogmatic and inflexible.
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Blue-Green Slides. 4 pps + 2 confederates. Shown 36 blue slides, state out loud. Group 1- confederates consistent (green). Group 2- inconsistent (24 green, 12 blue). Group 1- 8.42% converted. Group 2- 1.25% converted. Minority=effective if consistent
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Strengths of Minority Influence Theory
Research support for consistency- Woods meta-analysed almost 110 studies- minorities most influential when consistent. Research support for depth of thought- Martin- less willing to change attitudes when converted by minority rather than majority.
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Weaknesses of Minority Influence Theory
Artificial tasks- lacks ecological validity/ mundane realism/ limited in what can tell us. Limited real-world applications- more involved in difference between majority and minority eg. power/ status.
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Special Role of Minority Influence
Drawing attention through social proof. Consistency. Deeper processing. Augementation principle (risk lives). Snowball effect. Social crypotamnesia (remember change occured but not why occured. Conformity- appeal to NSI. Obedience- gradual commitment
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Strength of Social Influence and Social Change
Research support for NSI- study where hung messages on doors. Experimental group- 'most residents trying to save energy'. Control group- 'save energy'. Decrease in usage in experimental group- suggests NSI has effect on social change.
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Weaknesses of Social Influence and Social Change
Minority influence only indirectly effective- indirect and delayed= effects are fragile/ limited role in social influence. Role of deeper processing- majority influence may create deeper processing if don't share view- central element challenged.
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