Psychology - Social Influence

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Psychology - Social Influence
2012-12-23 13:16:27
Psychology Level

Conformity, Obedience, Social change
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  1. Outline the 2 types of conformity.
    • Compliance which is when a person conforms and does not necessarily agree with them. Public behaviour changes but private opinion does not. 
    • Internalisation is when a person conforms because they actually believe in the norms of the group, meaning public behaviour and private opinion changes. This is the most permenant form of conformity.
  2. Outline and evaluate the 2 explanations of conformity.
    • Informational social influence which is the need to be right. This occurs when there is not an obviously correct answer to something so we turn to others for information. This can be supported by a variation of Asch's study in which the task was made much more difficult. Conformity increased, suggesting participants needed to turn to the confederates because they genuinely didn't know the answers.
    • Normative social influence is the need to be liked. We conform to avoid embarrassment and to be accepted even if we don't change our private opinion. Normative SI is supported by Asch's study. This is because the task was so easy that informational social influence was not involved. The P's conformed because they did not want to be the only person to give one particular answer.
  3. Outline the process and results of Asch's study
    The point of the study was to see if the power of the group pressure was strong enough to make people give an obviously wrong answer to an easy task. The sample was all American Males. The naive participant was placed in a group of 6 confederates who gave unanimous wrong answers on 12 of the 18 trials. All confederates were sat at a table with the naive participant answering 2nd from last. On 32% of the critical trials (where confederates gave the wrong answer) P's conformed. 74% of the Participants conformed at least once. 13 out of 50 P's didn't conform but often experienced tension and doubt.
  4. What is the definition of conformity?
    When people adopt the behaviour, attitudes or beliefs of the majority after being exposed to their attitudes or beliefs.
  5. Evaluate Asch's study.
    Asch's study was a biased sample. It firstly was androcentric (an all male sample) making it ungeneralisable to females. Since it was an all American sample (America is an individualist society), it was also ethnocentric, making it ungeneralisable to collectivist societies. The test lacked ecological validity as it was artificial and not important to participants' belief systems. It lacks temporal validity since the experiment was in 1958, meaning the results are reflective of the conservative era (McCarthyism). This means  it's not generalisable to our time, proved by research carried out in 1970 in which only 1 out of 396 P's conformed. Although the participants used were science and engineering students meaning they may have been less likely to conform. Finally, the test was unethical. The participants were deceived and told that the test was on line perception rather than social influence and were told the confederates were other participants. They also may have suffered from embarrassment and stress from the test.
  6. Define obedience.
    Behaving as instructed, usually in response to an individual rather than group pressure. 
  7. Explain and evaluate legitimate authority.
    • We feel obligated to those in power because we respect their credentials and assume they know what they're doing. We learn from a young age that parents and teachers for example have best interests at heart and obedience becomes automatic towards them. A uniform is often a symbol of legitimate authority.
    • This is supported by a variation of Milgram's study in which the location was moved to a run down office and obedience dropped from 65% to 48%. This showed that when the power of obedience provided by the prestige of Yale University was removed, obedience rates dropped.
    • Although it could be argued that individual differences are a factor, since all participants in Milgram's study were exposed to the same amount of authority and 35% disobeyed.
  8. Explain and evaluate graduated commitment. 
    • This was an important aspect to Milgram's study. Participants were gradually sucked into giving greater and greater levels of shock. They found it difficult when to disengage because each voltage increment was only 15 volts (The foot in the door effect). Once someone obeys a trivial demand, it becomes more and more difficult to disobey when more serious requests are made. 
    • Support for this is from Milgram's study. Participants were asked to agree to a lot of trivial demands and they gradually got worse each time. If P's agreed to the last step, the next step didn't seem much worse.
    • Evidence against is due to individual differences. All P's  were exposed to the same gradual increases and 35% of them disobeyed, suggesting factors such as personality will affect obedience rates.
  9. Explain and evaluate agentic shift.
    • People operate on 2 levels:
    • As autonomous individuals behaving voluntarily and they're aware of their actions and consequences. 
    • Or on the agentic level, seeing themselves as agents of others and they're not responsible for their actions. 
    • The consequences of moving to the agentic level (agentic shift) is that the individual no longer hold the responsibility for thei actions, the person in authority does. 
    • This is supported by video footage of Milgram's study where P's objected to giving the shocks, but continued as soon as the experimentor stated that he would be held responsible if anything happened to the learner.
    • Evidence against this is that all P's were exposed to agentic shift and 35% disobeyed, suggesting personality and other factors affect obedience rates.
  10. Explain the process and results of Milgram's study.
    • The aim of Milgram's study was to find out if ordinary Americans would obey an unjust order to inflict pain on another person. 40 American males were recruited for this test after responding to a newspaper article advertising it, but it was said that it was a test based on memory. The study was done in a lab in Yale University and the experimentor told the P that the test was based on punishment in learning. The participant watched a confederate be strapped into a chair in a small room nextdoor with his arms attatched to electrodes. The participant would read out word pairs and tested the learners memory. Every time the learnor made an error, he'd be given a shock by the P. The P sat infront of a shock generator and the generator had 30 levers, each indicating a different voltage of shock. It started at 15 volts and rose in 15 volt increments up to 450 volts (labelled 'Danger - Severe shock XXX'). No shocks were actually given to the learner, but the learner was scripted to moan in pain and pound the wall at 300 volts, then stop replying completely at 315 volts and give no more answers. If the P hesitated to give more shocks, the experimentor would give prods such as 'please continue', 'you have no choice' and 'it's absolutely essential that you continue'. The experiment stopped once the P refused to continue, or 450 volts was administered 4 times. 
    • The findings were that all P's made it to at least 300 volts and 65% of P's went all the way to 450 volts. Most P's verbally dissented but continued to obey and many participants showed signs of sever anxiety and stress. One P even had a seizure. The study clearly demonstrated the power of the situation over individuals and showed that most people will obey orders that go against conscience under certain circumstances. 
  11. Evaluate Milgram's study.
    • Firstly, is was criticised for lacking internal validity since P's may have been showing demand characteristics. This is because P's may have realised that they weren't actually giving shocks, but carried on to make the results better. However, Milgram counteracted this allogation by showing the videos of P's undergoing extreme stress and even having a seizure.
    • Also, Sheridan and King conducted a similar experiment on puppies in which real shocks were administered and participants could see the effects and 75% still obeyed. The results were similar to Milgram's, supporting Milgram's internal validity.
    • Milgram has also been criticised for lacking external validity as he only used American men and an artificial situation. This means it was ethnocentric (ungeneralisable to collectavist societies), androcentric (ungeneralisable to women) and it wasn't ecologically valid (meaning it couldn't be generalised out of that specific situation). 
    • Although it was argued by Milgram that similar procedures had been conducted in other countries and had received similar results, even with women in the samples.
    • Additionally, Hofling created another study based on obedience in nurses. They were told to obey unjust orders from doctors and found that 21 out of 22 nurses obeyed despite potentially causing harm to patients, supporting Milgram's validity.
    • Finally, it was deemed unethical due to failure to protect P's from physical and psychological harm (stress and guilt). Milgram argues that he gave P's councelling and was not expecting such high obedience rates. P's were also deceived and were told the test was on punishment in learning and memory and were told the shocks were genuine. The experimentor also gave the P's the impression that they didn't have the right to withdraw from the experiment with the constant prods to keep going, but in Milgram's defense only 65% continued to the end and it was necessary for the study to receive accurate results.
  12. Outline 2 factors which allow resistance of majority influence.
    • A non-unanimous majority.This is when there is a dissenter and conformity drops to 5%. 
    • The size of the majority. If the majority consists f just 2 people, conformity drops to 12.8%. Optimum conformity rates was 32% with a majority of 3.
  13. Outline 3 factors that allow resistance of obedience.
    • Reduction in authority. When moved to a seedy office, obedience dropped to 48%. When experimentor didn't wear the white coat and wore normal clothes, obedience was 20%.
    • Proximity of authority. When experimentor was not in the same room as the participant, obedience dropped to 20%. 
    • Prescence of disobedient allies. Seeing others refuse to obey instructions from an authority figure encourages disobedience. When there were 2 disobedient allies, obedience dropped to 10%.
  14. Define 'Locus of Control'
    Locus of control refers to a person's belief in the amount of control they have over events in their life. 
  15. Describe the different extremes of locus of control.
    • A high internal perceive themselves as having a lot of personal control over their behaviour. Having an internal locus of control is considered healthy and you have good mental health. They are less likely to conform or obey.
    • A high external locus of control perceives events as being outside of their control due to external influences or luck. They are more likely going to conform or obey.
  16. What is social change?
    Social change occurs when a minorty influences a majority. Slowly but surely, the minority becomes the majority.
  17. How does social change come about?
    • Consistency - a minority must be constant in its position. Any dissent will weaken the minority and by being constant, a minority is harder to ignore.
    • Confidence - Confidence in a minority sends the message across to the majority that the minority is serious and is not going away. 
    • Persuasiveness - There needs to be clear arguments given to convince the majority. Minority influence is much more effective if there is a wider benefit to society rather than it just being due to self interest. 
    • The zeitgeist - The spirit of our time. For example, attitudes towards recycling have rapidly changed in recent times and people are much more willing to recycle due to peoples passion to preserve the planets ecosystem.
    • The snowball effect - The process of the minority slowly becoming the majority.
  18. Give an example of a minority influence and explain how social change is happening due to it.
    • Fathers 4 Justice is a group of people fighting for the cause of equal parenting after divorce.
    • F4J are consistent since they have been active for 10 years now. Throughout this time, they have maintained the same message that the law favours mothers significantly.
    • F4J use specific examples of when Fathers have been treated unfairly as a way to persuade. They also use psychological evidence to show how Fathers are more of a benefit to society when united with their children as a way to show they're not driven by self interest.
    • The stunts F4J do demonstrate their confidence in their views. Their audacious tactics to attract the media ensures masses of people hear of them and their cause. For example, their spiderman stunt caused traffic issues in East London for several days. 
    • They use the Zeitgeist to their advantage since there are such high divorce rates and broken relationships, meaning that this is an issue a lot of Fathers have to deal with. This makes it important to today's zeitgeist.
    • Although there are still inequlities, support for F4J has defnitely grown and the snowball effect has made them very well known.