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Flashcards in Conformity Deck (54):


>A change in a person's behaviour or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or a group of people.



>A deep type of conformity where we take on the majority view because we accept it as correct. It leads to a far-reaching and permanent change in behaviour, even if the group is absent.



>A moderate type of conformity where we act in the same way with the group because we value it and want to be part of it. This doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with everything the majority believes.



A superficial and temporary type of conformity where we outwardly go along with the majority view, but privately disagree with it. This change in behaviour only lasts as long as we are still being monitored by the group. If someone is alone it is compliance if they are with others ie a group of friends it would be identification.


Informational social influence.

>An explanation of conformity that says we agree with the opinion of the majority because we see it as correct. We accept it because we also want to be correct.
>Leads to internalisation.


Normative social influence.

>An explanation of conformity that says we agree with the opinion of the majority because we want to be liked and accepted.
>Leads to compliance.



>Someone who is in on the experiment, essentially a part of the researchers team.



>Someone who is part of the experiment.


Naive participant.

>Someone who is taking part in the experiment but doesn’t know everything about the experiment.



Every test within the experiment.



Someone who disagrees with the majority within the experiment.


Asch's research: dissenters effects on participants.

Asch’s research showed that people are more likely to conform if a whole group are going against their answer. This is shown to change when the variables change such as the conformity rated reduced when the participant didn’t publicly have to answer. This experiment showed both ISI and NSI. To find out why someone conformed they were interviewed.


Asch's research: aims.

>To investigate how social pressures affect people to conform when the people applying the social pressures are the majority group.


Asch's research: procedure.

>A laboratory experiment.
>123 american undergraduate males.
>Groups were made up of between six to eight confederates and one naive participant.
>The naive participant was not aware the others were confederates.
>Asch showed two cards, one with a ‘standard line’ and one with three ‘comparison lines’ one of which matched the ‘standard line’.
>The participant was asked which of the three lines matched the ‘standard’.


Asch's research: findings.

>The naive participant gave a wrong answer 36.8% of the time.
>Overall 25% of participants did not conform on any trials this means that 75% of the
participants conformed at least once.
>When there was a dissenter the conformity dropped to 5%.


Stanford prison experiment: Zimbardo's aims.

>To investigate conformity to social roles.


Stanford prison experiment: Procedure.

>Zimbardo made participants take a test to check their emotional stability. All of the participants he chose to be part of the experiment were stable.
>24 people were picked, 12 of which were going to be prisoners and 12 who were going to be guards, these roles were assigned randomly.
>The guards and prisoners were then put into a mock prison.
>Prisoners were given smocks with prisoner numbers on and a chain around their foot.
>Guards were given uniforms, handcuffs, batons and reflective sunglasses.


Stanford prison experiment: Zimbardo's findings.

>Within the first couple of days, the guards started to abuse their roles.
>The prisoners protested refusing to leave their cells, they were then forced out by the guards.
>Many prisoners suffered mental breakdowns.


Stanford prison experiment: Prisoner #8612.

>Prisoner #8612 began suffering from acute emotional disturbance, disorganised thinking, uncontrollable crying, and rage but the guards believed that he was faking it in order to try and be let out.
>#8612 was then given the offer of becoming an informant in exchange for no further guard harassment.
>#8612 then began to act "crazy," to scream, to curse, to go into a rage that seemed out of control. He was then let out as it was believed that he was suffering from a mental breakdown
>Prisoner #8612 was not the only prisoner to suffer from a mental breakdown as many other prisoners were also let out for suffering from the same thing.


Stanford prison experiment: Conclusion.

>The experiment proved what Zimbardo was trying to show, when given social roles that have a lot of power attached to them, many will abuse that power and lose all sense of who they were before.


Stanford prison experiment: the end.

>The experiment was stopped after only 6 days when Zimbardo’s girlfriend at the time said that the experiment had also changed him, that she wanted nothing to do with him if this was what he was really what he was like.
> Zimbardo described this as the ‘metaphorical slap in the face’ that caused him to end the experiment.
>Zimbardo got too involved in the experiment.



>Social influence where someone is following a direct order.


Milgram's experiment: aims.

>To discover how many participants would obey direct orders when the orders involve harming another human.


MIlgram's experiment: procedure.

>40 males were recruited through adverts and flyers.
>They were told that Milgram was looking for participants to take part in a study about memory.
>They were offered $4.50 to take part.
>When participants arrived at Milgram’s lab they were paid.
> There was a rigged draw that would lead to ‘Mr. Wallace’ who was a confederate to always be the ‘learner’ and the participant was the ‘teacher’.
>There was also an ‘experimenter’ (another confederate) dressed in a lab coat.
>Participants were told they could leave at any time.
The learner was strapped into a chair in another room and wired with electrodes.
>Every Time the learner got something wrong the teacher was told to inflict an electric shock, the voltage got higher with every wrong answer.
>The learner made loud noises when they got shocked to signify they were in pain (although they were not actually being electrocuted).
>If the teacher seemed to want to stop the experimenter gave one of four prods to try to get them to continue.


Milgram's experiment: findings.

>More than 50% of participants went all the way up to 450 volts.


Milgram's experiment: The prods.

> 'Please continue' or Please go on'
> 'The experiment requires that you continue'
> 'It is absolutely essential that you go on'
>'You have no other choice, you must go on'



Reflects real life.


Hofling nurse study.

In 1966 Hofling studied nurses in a hospital and found that when he told these nurses to administer drugs to patients 21 out of 22 did just because they were doctors


Problems with Zimbardo's experiment.

>Zimbardo got too involved in the experiment. As the observer you are not meant to be at all involved in the happenings of the experiment. Despite this, Zimbardo played the 'warden' in the experiment.
>Zimbardo was trying to create a situation in which the guards dominated the prisoners, this makes the idea that the study was 'natural' void.


Ethical issues with Zimbardo's experiment.

>Participants were not protected from physical or emotional harm.
>Participants were not given a full rundown of the experiment's procedure.
>Participants should have been allowed to leave as soon as they started to show signs of emotional trauma


Stanford prison experiment: Prisoner #819

>While talking to the priest, prisoner #819 broke down and began to cry hysterically.
>The psychologists removed the chain off his foot, the cap off his head, and told him to go and rest in a room that was adjacent to the prison yard.
>They told him they would get him some food and then take him to see a doctor.
>While this was going on, one of the guards lined up the other prisoners and had them chant aloud: "Prisoner #819 is a bad prisoner. Because of what Prisoner #819 did, my cell is a mess, Mr. Correctional Officer."
>The psychologists realised #819 could hear the chanting and went back into the room where they found him sobbing uncontrollably.
>The psychologists then tried to get him to agree to leave the experiment, but he said he could not leave because the others had labelled him a bad prisoner.
>At that point, Zimbardo said, "Listen, you are not #819. You are [his name], and my name is Dr. Zimbardo. I am a psychologist, not a prison superintendent, and this is not a real prison. This is just an experiment, and those are students, not prisoners, just like you. Let's go."
He stopped crying suddenly, looked up and replied, "Okay, let's go,“ as if nothing had been wrong.


Situational variables.

>Proximity: The physical closeness or distance of an authority figure to the person they are giving an order to.
>Location: The place where an order is issued.
>Uniform: People in positions of authority often have a specific outfit that is symbolic of their authority.


Psychological factors - legitimacy of authority

>An explanation for obedience which suggests we are more likely to obey people who we perceive to have authority over us.
>No personal responsibility - simply obeying orders
>Do feel that what they are doing is wrong, feel like you cannot disobey.
>Social hierarchy is mostly agreed on by society.
>One of the consequences of legitimacy of authority is that it may become destructive. Some people in places of authority may be granted permission to punish those whom they have authority over. Authority can be destructive or productive.


Psychological factors - agentic state

A mental state where we feel no personal responsibility for our behaviour because we are acting for an authority figure. It frees us from the demands of our conscience, this allows us to even obey a destructive authority figure. You believe that you are not responsible.


Psychological factors - autonomous state

Being free to behave according to their own principles.


Agentic shift

Shift from autonomy to agency.


Psychological factors - binding factors

>Aspects of the situation that allow the person to ignore or minimise the damaging effect of their behaviour and thus reduce the ‘moral strain’ they are feeling.
>Binding factors include: uniform, location, perception of authority and the prods used in Milgram’s experiment.



a person's inherent qualities of mind and character.


Dispositional explanation

>Any explanation of behaviour that highlights the importance of the person’s personality. Such explanations are often contrasted with situational explanations.


Authoritarian personality

>A type of personality that Adorno argued was especially susceptible to obeying people in authority. Such individuals. Such individuals are also thought of to be submissive to those of higher status and dismissive of inferiors. Believe in the structure of authority.


Adorno - obedient personality study

>Adorno investigated the causes of the obedient personality in a study of more than 2000 middle-class white Americans and their unconscious attitudes towards other racial groups.
>Discoveries of the study were that people with authoritarian leanings identified with ‘strong’ people and were generally contemptuous of the ‘weak’. There was no ‘fuzziness’ between categories of people, with fixed distinctive stereotypes about other groups. There was strong positive correlation between authoritarian and prejudice.
>Adorno concluded that people with an authoritarian personality have a tendency to be especially obedient to authority.


Origin of the obedient personality

Adorno believed that authoritarian personalities are due to upbringing. Formed in childhood as a result of harsh parenting. Extremely strict discipline also characterised by conditional love. Creates resentment and hostility in a child, cannot express their feelings properly. Fears are displaced onto others who are perceived to be weaker in a process known as scapegoating. This is a psychodynamic explanation.



To withstand social pressure. For conformity and obedience.


Social support

The presence of people who resist pressures to conform or obey can help others to do the same. Act as models to show that resistance to social influence is possible.


Locus of control

Refers to the sense we each have about what directs events in our lives. Internals believe they are mostly responsible for what happens to them, externals believe it is mainly a matter of luck or other outside forces.
>Someone with high internal locus is much more likely to resist pressure because they take responsibility for their actions whether good or bad.


Social support for conformity

Other people present who are not conforming. As we saw in Asch’s research the person not conforming does not have to give the correct answer but simply the fact that they are not conforming appears to enable a person to be free to follow their own conscience.


Social support for obedience

Pressure to obey is reduced when there is another person who is seen to disobey. In one of Milgram’s experiments the rate of obedience dropped by 65% to 10% when the genuine participant was was joined by a disobedient participant.



People differ in the way they explain their successes and failures but isn’t simply a matter of being internal or external.


Minority influence

A form of social influence in which a minority of people persuade others to adopt their beliefs, attitudes or behaviours. This leads to internalisation or conversion.


Minority influence - consistency

Minority influence is most effective if the minority keeps the same beliefs, both over time and between all the individuals that form the minority.


Minority influence - commitment

More powerful if the minority demonstrates dedication to their position, for example, by making personal sacrifices.


Minority influence - flexibility

Relentless consistency could be counterproductive if it is seen by the majority as unbending and unreasonable. Therefore minority influence is more effective if the minority is not acting out of self interest.


Minority influence - process of change

The three factors above make people think about the the topic. If you hear something new, then you might think about it, especially if the source of this other news is consistent and passionate.


Minority influence - Moscovici

>Demonstrates the importance of consistency.
>Proves that the majority has more influence than the minority.
>91.5% of participants did not change their answer because of the minority, only 64% in Asch’s experiment didn’t conform.
>Lab experiment.
>Independent group’s design.