Social influence - AQA Psychology AS Level
Terms in this set (55)
What is social psychology?
The study of nature and causes of human social behaviour particularly interested in the influence others have over our behaviour as we interact with them in our social world
Kelman (1958) explain the two types of conformity
Compliance - going along with others to gain approval or avoid disapproval, simply going along with the majority (public compliance) without a private attitude change e.g smoking
Internalisation - going along with others as you've accepted their point of view and changed your attitude so it is consistent with your own point of view, may engage in validation (examining your own beliefs to see if others are right) may convince group is right resulting in public and private attitude change e.g music taste (exposure)
What are the 2 main differences between the 2 types of conformity?
Future behaviour will only be repeated if another group member is monitoring (compliance) likely to be performed whenever, regardless whether other group members are present
Motivating factors of the prime motivation is to fit in (compliance) if it's to find the wet way of responding (internalisation)
What is another name for conformity?
Asch (1956) study aims and procedure
Aim - to see whether people would stick to what they believed it cave in to pressure of the majority
Three lines, different lengths, asked to state which was the same length as the "standard line" unambiguous task but confederates made wrong choice
123 male undergraduate students, answered in same order with naive participant always second to last or last, 12/18 trials confederates gave the wrong answer
Findings of Asch's study
36.8% confirmed in 12 critical trials, 1/4 never confirmed
To test ambiguity of lines control trial was done with no confederates giving the wrong answer showing people do make mistakes 1% of the time but this doesn't explain relatively high incorrect answers
Conclusion of Asch's study
Interviewed participants afterwards about why they confirmed and found 3 reasons
1 - distortion of perception (small number come to see lines in same way as majority)
2 - distortion of judgement (felt doubt about accuracy)
3 - distortion of action (privately trusted own perception but changed public behaviour to avoid disapproval from other members e.g complied)
Explain the 3 variations in Asch's study
1. Difficulty of task - confirmed increased when line differences were smaller Lucas et al (2006) moderated by self-efficacy (low = conform, high = confident in own abilities)
2. Size of majority - little conformity when only one or two, three jumped to about 30%, no further increases after 3
3. Unanimity of majority - breaking groups consensus reduces conformity, if naive participants were given support, conformity dropped from 32-5.5% or if lone dissenter (different from true an majority answer) dropped from 32-9%
Individual differences in Asch's study - Early and Carli (1981)
Early and Carli (1981) meta-analysis 145, women more compliant but may be due to sex roles as more interpersonally orientated so predisposed for conformity or is it because of the experiment materials used as male researchers more likely to find gender differences possibly because they were usually familiar to males so women were less confident in their answers
Perin and Spencer (1980) criticism of Asch's study
May have been "child of its time" (findings unique to one culture" as participants were all men, American and in the 50s (era of McCarthyism - strong anti-communism so people were scared to be different)
They repeated Asch's study in England in late 70s - only 1 out of 396 confirmed (science and engineering students) but similar levels when participants were youth on probation and probation officers suggesting more likely to conform of perceived costs of non-conformity are higher
Did Asch's study really show conformity? (Criticism)
No as only 1/3 confirmed, 2/3 did not so Asch says it shows independent behaviour rather than overly conformist
Smith and bond (1998) culture analysis of Asch's study (criticism)
Collectivist cultures = higher levels of conformity
Also if majority size is larger, higher proportion of women and a more ambiguous task
Criticism of smith and bond (1998)
Schwartz (1992) cultures are not homogenous and values differ
Real-world app of Asch's study
Tanford and penrod (1986) juries - 1st vote determines outcome 95% of cases as pressure to conform is particularly strong
Validity of Asch's study
May only tells us about conformity in special circumstances as Williams and sogon (1984) state conformity may be higher with the people you know e.g same sports club
Ethical issues with Asch's study (2)
What is normative social influence?
Based on the desire to be liked or accepted, a majority may be able to control other members by making it difficult to deviate from the majority point of view as humans are a social species with a fundamental need for social companionship and fear of rejection
Schultz et al (2008) - Normative social influence
794 hotel rooms out of 132 hotels where guests were staying a week, randomly assigned to experimental condition (information on environmental benefits and normative message "75% of guests choose to reuse towels each day) control condition (door hanger informing about environmental benefits of reusing towels) normative message reduced need for fresh towels by 25%
Linkenbach and Perkins (2003) Normative social influence
Marketing campaigns aimed at young people about what is normative in a group reduced incidence behaviours e.g alcohol abuse and smoking as they found in study of 7 counties in Montana smoking campaigns aimed at 12-17 year olds, exposed to normative message that the majority of their peers do not smoke were less likely to take up smoking compared to counties where campaigns did not take place
What is informational social influence?
Based on the desire to be right, most likely o happen when the situation is ambiguous, a crisis or we believe others to be experts
Fein et al (2007) evaluating informational social influence
Supports the role of informational social influence as participants produced a large shift in judgement when they saw what was "supposedly" the reaction of fellow participants when judging candidates performance in U.S. Presidential debates (they were influenced by knowledge of others actions)
Wittenbrink and Henly (1996) evaluating informational social influence
Exposed participants to negative information about African Americans which they believed to be the majorities view thus later reporting more negative beliefs about a black target individual
Mass psychogenic illness and informational social influence
Jones et al (2000) "rapid spread of illness signs and symptoms effecting members of a cohesive group with no obvious physical cause" such as in Tennessee school (1998) study where teacher noticed petrol like smell in the classroom hen complained of headache and nausea for example which was followed by the school being evacuated and 80 students and 19 staff going to hospital with the same symptoms although there was no physical cause found after an exhaustive investigation
What is obedience?
A form of social influence where an individual acts in response to a direct order from a figure with perceived authority, they may respond in a way that they otherwise would not without the order being given
Milgram (1963) procedure
40 male volunteers, advertised study of how punishment affects learning at Yale University with $4.50 for each participant
The 'naive' participant = teacher (must administer increasingly strong shocks to learner whenever they got a question wrong on the learning task)
2 confederates = experimenter (authority figure) and learner (47-year old accountant)
They drew lots to determine who was the teacher or learner however these were fixed so that the 'naive' participant was always the teacher
The machine was tested on the learner to show it worked.
In the "remote condition" the teacher was sat in a separate room with learner answering mainly wong questions and receiving fake shocks until 300 volts (very strong shock) when he would pound on the wall then not respond to the next question, this was repeated at 315 volts then did nothing
If the teacher asked to stop the experimenter had a set of "prods" to repeat such as "It is absolutely essential that you continue"
Milgram's predictions and findings
Asked psychiatrists, college students and colleagues to predict how far they would go= nearly all refuse to obey, a few over 150 volts ad only 4% reaching 400 volts, a pathological fringe of about 1/1000 who would administer the full 450 volts
Findings - 65% continues to 450 volts (far beyond "danger: severe shock" mark
All went to 300 volts only 12.5% stopped at 300
Milgram's 1963 study conclusions
Ordinary people are astonishingly obedient to authority even when being asked to behave inhumanely
Suggests evil people who commit atrocities are just ordinary people obeying orders so many crimes are situational rather than dispositional
People's capacity to make independent decisions is suspended when they find themselves in a subordinate position in a powerful social hierarchy e.g the "teacher" with the "experimenter"
Milgram's variations (situational factorsin obedience)
Teacher's discretion study (2.5%) Level of shock left to "teacher's" decision
Two peers rebel study (10%)
Experimenter-absent study (21%) "experimenter gave orders over the phone
Touch-proximity study (30%) "Teacher" required to force "learner's" hand onto shockplate
Proximity study (40%) In same room, see reactions
Different location study (48%) No longer Yale university but run-down office block in town centre
Milgram - lacks internal validity - PEE
Participants may not have been fooled by the setup as they had come to learn that many psychology experiments usually disguise the true aims of the study thus suggesting they were aware they were not harming the "learner"
Exemplified by Orne and Holland (1968) - only reason participants appeared distressed was because they were strained by playing along with the experimental study not because they were harming the "learner"
Milgram - Unethical as failed to protect participants from psychological harm
Placed participants under great emotional strain and distress by deceiving them into thinking they may be administering lethal shocks to a fellow participant
Supported by Darley (1992) research - experience of administering shocks (even if not real) may activate a previously dormant aspect of an individual's personality making them more able and motivated to respect those actions, their personalities may alter as a consequence of the actions they are asked to perform
Milgram - Population validity is low (K + M)
Used only American and male participants so it may not be representative of obedience in other cultures or amongst the female gender
Evidence for this comes from Kilham and Mann using Milgram's experimental procedure (1974) - 40% of Australian male students would administer maximum shock voltage but only 16% of Australian female students
Milgram - Not generalisable outside of research setting (lacks ecological validity)
The study was lab-based and quite-contrived where participants knew they were taking part in a psychology experiment so it is unclear whether obedience rates can be generalised to more naturally occuring, 'real-life' situations
Supporting this is Hofling et al (1966) hospital study where nurses were telephoned by a doctor "Mr Smith"(confederate) who asked them to give a 20mg dosage of astroten to a patient
Order contravened hospital regulations as nurses were not supposed to take orders from unknown doctors over the phone and the dosage was twice the amount advised on the bottle
However, 21 out of 22 (95%) of nurses did as requested
Rank and Jacobson (1975) counteracting Hofling et al (1966) in a more realistic representation of actual hospital practices
Also asked nurses to carry out irregular order but with valium (a familiar drug) and they were allowed to consult with peers resulting in 16 out of 18 (89%) refusing
Real-world application of Milgram's study - Tarnow (2000) OBEDIENCE IN THE COCKPIT
NTSB looked at all serious aircraft accidents from 1978-1990 from which Tarnow (2000) drew two findings
1. Hesitant challenging - Post-crash recordings of voices showed several instances where the crew members did not speak up suffieciently when danger threatened linking to how "teacher's"objections were often hesitant and easily overruled by the "experimenter"
2. Lack of monitorting - Excessive psychological dependence on Captain's authority and expertise, one second officer claimed to have noticed the captain taking a particularly risky approach but said nothing as he assumed the "captain must know what he's doing"
Also extentuated by close physical proximity
List the 3 explanations of why people obey - Milgram (1974)
Gradual commitment, agentic shift and role of buffers
Explain gradual commitment (include example)
Once a trivial, seemingly harmless request is obeyed it becomes more difficult to refuse more serious and escalating requests which is explained by the human desire to be consistent in our behaviour
Milgram's study - As they've already given lower-level shocks it becomes harder to resist experimenter's requests to increase the shocks
What is autonomous and agentic shift? And explain agentic shift (include example)
Agentic shift = condition a person is in when they see themselves as an agent for carrying out another person's wishes
Autonomous shift = when "see themselves as acting on their own"
When we are faced with a person with perceived legitimate authority and believe they will take responsibility for our actions we enter agentic state
Milgram's study - "Teacher" obeying "Experimenter"
Explain the role of buffers (include example)
A "buffer" acts as a mechanism to protect individuals from the consequences of their own actions, thus making it easier to obey immoral commands
Milgram's study - Wall between "teacher"and "learner" acted as a buffer as the "teacher"did not fully witness the results of the shocks, in the proximity study only 40% obeyed compared to 65% in the "remote" condition with a wall acting as a buffer
Real-world application of obedience
Abu Ghraib prison - gradual escalation of violence similar to Milgram's gradual escalation of voltage (gradual commitment)
Does the Nazi extermination of Jews explain obedience? (2 views)
Yes - Milgram (1967)
No this oversimplifies and misleads the real cause of the Holocaust - Mandel (1998)
Mono-casual effect (explaining obedience) (M..G)
Mandel (1998) focusing solely on obedience ignores many other explanations for atrocities like the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity
Goldenhagen (1996) Anti-Semitism was the prime motivation for the annihilation of Jews
Agentic shift (explaining obedience)
Holocaust perpetrators carried out duties for months/years whereas Milgram's = no more than half an hour, they were also reassured that the shocks would not cause permanent damage but may be painful
Consequences of obedience alibi (blaming another for their obedience)
Mandel (1998) Obedience as a key role in the Holocaust is unjustified after analysis of historical records and it suggests that Holocaust perpetrators were 'just obeying orders' which can be distressing to those affected by the Holocaust
What is locus of control? (explanations of independent behaviour)
A person's perception of personal control over their own behavior measured from high internal to high external
Research uncovered many characteristics of high internal 'locus of control' relevant to the study of independent behaviour, what are they? (4)
Perceive themselves as having a great deal of control over their behaviour, active seekers of useful information and less likely to rely on other's opinions and more achievement-orientated
Evaluation of 'locus of control' PEE
There is a historical trend in the 'locus of control' where many Young Americans increasingly believe their lives are controlled by outside factors
This was found by Twenge et al (2004) meta-analysis studies as they found research scores were substantially more external in student and child between 1960 and 2002
This is because of the dramatic social changes such as increase in divorce and mental health problems and suicide which may suggest to young people that many aspects of their lives are beyond their control thus an increase in externality
Resisting pressures to conform (The role of allies) Asch's study
In one variation a dissident was used which gives the participant social support, these resulted in lower conformity rates as the participants were more confident in their answers
Evaluation of the role of allies - Hornsey et al (2003)
May be more willing to maintain independent if they have to make moral rather than physical judgement e.g lines as abandoning this personal position is relatively minor compared to the interpersonal benefits from conforming
But Hornsey found remarkably little movement towards the majority on attitudes that had moral significance for the individual such as cheating when judgement involved a moral dimension that may affect a person's integrity
Allen and Levine (1971) validity of allies as a factor
If perceived as offering valid social support e.g normal vision (valid) VS poor vision e.g wearing thick glasses (invalid) then social support has a higher impact but conformity is higher with any social support compared to none
Resisting pressures to obey - Insights from Milgram's study
Status is a key factor in obedience as obedience rates dropped when the study was situated away from the prestigious setting of Yale university as participants felt able to resist authority
Resistance also increased when the victim could be seen or other confederates were present suggesting that being aware of our actions and having social support are important in resistance
Evaluation of resisting pressures to obey - Kohlberg (1969)
He gave a group of Milgram's volunteers a set of imaginary moral dilemmas and looked at why they would behave in a certain way over how they would behave and found that those who base decisions on more general moral principles were more defiant in Milgram's study than those with a more restricted moral development
What is social change?
When a whole society adopts a new belief or way of behaving which then becomes widely accepted as the "norm"
What is minority influence?
A form of social influence that takes place when a member of a minority group, like an individual, influences a majority to accept the minority's beliefs or behaviour
Wood et al (1994) implication of social change research
Meta-analysis of 97 minority influence studies and found that those perceived as especially consistent in their positions were particularly influential suggesting small minorities are more influential if they are consistent in their views and express their position overtime meaning they are taken more seriously
If they remain consistent they must really believe it to be true
Polish Trade union as an example of social change
The workers striked for their rights at the Lenin shipyards in Gdansk which eventually led to a social movement of 10 million members resulting in the overthrow of the communist government in 1981 as a result of or despite the intimidation and imprisonment of its leaders suggesting when their are risks involved in putting forward a point of view then those who express it are more likely to be taken seriously by others
This is called the "augmentation principle" which states that because members are willing to suffer e.g public abuse through media or even imprisonment or death then the impact of their position on other members is 'augmented' (increased) resulting in them being more influential and increasing the likelihood of social change
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