AQA Psychology AS level- Social influence
Terms in this set (46)
What is conformity?
A change in belief or behaviour in response to real or imagined social pressure.
How many different types of conformity are there?
3 (Internalisation, identification and compliance)
publicly and privately accepting the norm e.g someone converting to a religion, this type of conformity is usually permanent so individuals will display certain behaviour even in the absence of the other group members.
publicly accepting the norms in order to be part of the group but not necessarily privately e.g Zimbardo's study.
Publicly accepting the norms but privately rejecting them e.g someone might laugh at a joke because his/her friends are laughing but they don't find the joke funny, this type of conformity is usually temporary as individuals will only display certain behaviour in the presence of the other group members.
How many different explanations are there for conformity?
2 [informative social influence (ISI) and normative social influence (NSI)]
Define Informative social influence.
Following/accepting the norms in order to be correct as well.
Define normative social influence.
Following/accepting the norms in order to be accepted and gain social approval.
Give a strength(s) of the explanations for conformity.
Lucas et al (2006) found in his study that when students were presented with a difficult task the levels of conformity increased which supports the ISI explanation for conformity as it states that people tend to follow/accept the norms in order to be correct as well.
Asch (1951) found in his famous 'line-judging task' study that after the experiment most participants admitted that they went with a clearly wrong answer because they were afraid of disapproval from the others in the group which supports the NSI explanation for conformity as it states that people tend to follow/accept the norms in order to be accepted and gain social approval.
Asch also found in his variation that when the task difficulty increased (the lines were made similar so the line-judging task became difficult) conformity levels increased which again supports the ISI explanation for conformity (people follow the norms in order to be correct as well)
Give a weakness(es) of the explanations for conformity.
Mcghee and Teevan found in their study that students high in need of affiliation were more likely to conform than the those who were not high in need of affiliation therefore, there are individual differences in the way people respond so this study does not support NSI nor ISI.
Describe the main features (procedure) of Asch's study.
123 American male undergraduates were put into groups of 6-8 confederates and were shown two sets of white cards.
One of them had a 'standard line' while the other had three 'comparison lines' and participants were asked to match the right comparison line with the standard line.
There were 18 trials out of which 12 were critical trials (trials where confederate gave the wrong answer)
State the findings of Asch's study.
Overall 25% of the participants did not conform on any trials which meant 75% did at least once.
How many different variations did Asch have in his study?
3 (Group size, Unanimity and task difficulty)
What did Asch find in his 'group size' variation?
With three confederates the levels of conformity rose to 31.8% and adding any more confederates made no difference which suggested that a small majority is not sufficient enough for influence to be exerted but at the other extreme there is no need for majority of more than three.
What did Asch find in his 'unanimity' variation?
When a non-conforming confederate was added to the group the levels of conformity fell by a quarter of what it originally was.
What did Asch find in his 'task difficulty' variation?
when the lines were made similar it made the line-judging task difficult so conformity levels increased (remember ISI can play a big role in a situation like this)
Give some weaknesses of Asch's study.
Perrin and Spencer repeated his study but with engineer students and found different results which shows how it lacks consistency and so is not applicable to everyone.
the study also had a biased sample (only American males as participants) so again it cannot be generalised to everyone.
it also has some ethical issues for example participants were deceived.
Give some strengths of Asch's study.
Even though participants were deceived, Asch gave ppts full debriefing and argued that without deception the study would not have taken place.
the study also has high validity and reliability due to the lab condition which meant the experimenters were able to control certain variables and it had standardised procedure which means it can easily be replicated.
Describe Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment.
In the experiment 24 normal healthy students were randomly assigned the roles of guards and prisoners in a mock prison where Zimbardo observed their behaviour but also acted as the prison warden. the aim of the study was to see how readily people would conform to the social roles assigned to them.
they study was meant to last for 2 weeks but was stopped after only 6 days due to the guards becoming increasingly cruel as the experiment continued.
the findings were as follows:
> 1 prisoner was released on the first day because he showed signs of psychological disturbance.
> Another 2 were released on the 4th day
> The brutality of the guards showed that it is not the sadistic personalities (as all the participants were checked to be normal and healthy before the experiment) but rather the prison environment that forces people to behave in such manner.
Give some strengths of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment.
It was a lab experiment so it has good validity because there were controlled variables e.g choosing normal healthy participants and also both the guards and prisoners were in those roles by chance so it rules out the individual personality differences as an explanation again increasing its validity.
Give some weaknesses of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment.
due to the artificial nature of the experiment, it can be argued that it actually has low validity because participants may have simply behaved in that manner due to demand characteristics so they based their behaviour on stereotypes which would decrease the experimental realism.
the BBC study does not support it because they found the opposite results: prisoners took control instead of the guards and so social identity theory is used instead to explain this.
lastly, the study has ethical issues for example, participants experienced serious psychological harm (1 left the study on the first day) and some participants were indirectly denied withdrawal.
This is a type of social influence where an individual follows an order from another person usually an authority figure.
Describe Milgram's study
There were 40 male participants recruited through newspaper adverts, who were offered money to take part, in what they thought was a memory study but in reality the aim of the study was to see why Germans were willing to kill Jews during the holocaust i.e to study obedience.
a confederate always ended up as the learner while the true participant always as the teacher. the learner was tested with a memory task and every time they got the answer wrong, they were given "an electric shock" which would increase with more wrong answers starting at 15 volts up to 450 volts. finally if the participants did not want to continue or were hesitating then the experimenter would use a sequence of 4 prods and repeat them if necessary e.g "the experiment requires that you to continue"
the findings showed that:
> No one stopped below 300 volts
> 65% continued to the highest level of 450 volts
Give some strengths of Milgram's study.
All participants were debriefed and so the study followed the ethical guidelines.
Sheridan and King's study supports it because they repeated the study but with real shocks and found similar results which increases its reliability. it is also increased due to the fact that it was a lab experiment with standardised procedure.
Also, because it was a lab experiment it increases its external validity because it accurately reflects wider authority relationships in real life.
Give some weaknesses of Milgram's study.
it had many ethical issues such as psychological harm, deception and indirectly denied to withdraw.
participants may have guessed that the shocks were not real so the study lack internal validity as ppts behaviour may have been due to demand characteristics.
lastly, there are alternative explanations such as social identity theory so the ppts identified with the experimenter especially with the use of those prods (the experiment requires that you continue) and therefore felt the need to continue with the shocks.
what were the situational variables to Milgram's study?
3 main ones: Location, Proximity and Uniform.
State the findings of Location.
when the experiment was repeated in a run-down building instead of the prestigious Yale university, the obedience rate fell down from 65% to 48%.
State the findings of Proximity.
Three main variations in proximity:
> when the learner and the teacher were in the same room obedience rates fell down from 65% to 40%.
> when the teacher had to push the learner's hand onto the shock plate, obedience rates fell from 65% to 30%.
> when the experimenter gave instructions via phone, obedience rate fell from 65% to 20.5%
state the findings of Uniform.
the experimenter was dressed as a 'member of the public' the obedience rate fell from 65% to 20%
Give some strengths of Milgram's variation study.
Bickman's study supports because the study had three confederates dressed up in three different uniforms who asked passers-by to perform certain tasks and the results were quite similar hence, suggesting that uniform does play a role in obedience.
cross-cultural replication so it has been replicated in different cultures which increases its reliability.
lastly, Milgram only altered one variable at a time in each variation while keeping everything else exactly the same which increases its internal validity.
Give some weaknesses of Milgram's variation study.
Participants may have seen through the deception and so were behaving in that manner due to demand characteristics and so the study lacks internal validity.
Mandel argues that it is offensive and disrespectful to the survivors of the holocaust to suggest that Nazis were simply obeying orders.
Lastly, Smith and Bond argues that most replications have been done in Western countries so therefore the study lacks generalisability as western countries are not that different from USA.
Define Agentic state.
A mental state where the individual does not feel any sense of responsibility for their actions
(Agent is someone who works for someone else)
Define Autonomous state.
(Autonomy means free) A mental state where the individual feels responsible for their actions.
Define Agentic shift.
The shift from autonomous state to agentic shift.
Define Legitimacy of authority.
An explanation for obedience that states that we are more likely to follow orders from those who we perceive to have authority in society
Define Binding factors.
Factors that allow a person to ignore the damaging effects of the situation that they are partaking in. (they bind the person to the situation)
e.g in Milgram's study ppts felt the obligation of payment (they were paid money to do this and couldn't just stop half way through) and some probably felt they were doing something bad but for a greater cause -for the sake of psychology.
Evaluate Agentic state.
it is a limited explanation because it can only account for some situations of obedience not all e.g in a situation some Nazi soldiers were given orders to shoot innocent civilians which they followed despite the fact that they were given the choice to do other duties if they wished to do so.
Evaluate Legitimacy of authority.
there are studies that support this explanation e.g Blass and Schmitt who asked students who they thought was responsible in Milgram's experiment (the participant or the experimenter) and nearly all said the experimenter which shows how they recognised legitimacy of authority hence supporting this explanation.
Also, cross-cultural studies have increased its validity because they have shown how different societies are structured differently and how kids are brought up to perceive authority figures differently.
state what is meant by dispositional explanation
obedience is affected by the person's personality.
Define Authoritarian personality.
People who have this personality are very likely to obey those in authority, it is measured by the F-scale which measures the tendency towards fascism.
describe Adorno's study.
2000 white, male Americans took part in this experiment and they were tested on their unconscious attitudes towards other racial groups using several different scales one of which was the F-scale (it measures the tendency towards fascism).
the findings showed that those who were brought up with strict and harsh upbringing were more likely to develop an authoritarian personality
Give some strengths of Adorno's study.
Milgram and Elms's study support it because it showed how ppts who were highly obedient in Milgram's study scored highly on the F-scale too and hence it shows how those with authoritarian personality are more likely to obey.
One of the very few studies where no ethical guidelines were broken which makes it a strength of this study.
Give some weaknesses of Adorno's study.
They study only shows a correlation not a causation which means strict upbringing can be one of the factors involved but it is not THE only factor or the factor that causes authoritarian personality.
It is a limited explanation because it is very unlikely that a whole country had an authoritarian personality so instead social identity theory is used to explain this (German people identified with the Nazis etc)
What two main factors help resist social influence (i.e conformity and obedience)?
Social support and Locus of control
Define social support
when a dissenter is present in the group, they act as a model and help individuals resist obedience and conformity.
define Locus of control.
a concept that states what directs events in our lives so two types of locus of control: internal and external
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