Flashcards in Social Behaviour: Conformity and Obedience Deck (33):
Types of Conformity:
Compliance - Changing your behaviour (but not opinion) to fit in: links to Kelmans factor of power.
Identification - Changing your behaviour and opinion to fit in: links to Kelmans factor of attractiveness.
Internalisation - Changing your behaviour and opinion to someone elses because it is logical: links to Kelmans factor of credibility.
Factors Affecting Conformity: Social Influence
Normative - Changing your behaviour to fit in with the group.
Informational - Changing your behaviour becasue you think the group is more informed than you on the topic.
Factors Affecting Conformity: Individual Factors
Majority - The majority change the behaviour of the minority.
Minority - The minority change the behaviour of the majority.
Factors Affecting Conformity: Situational Factors
Gender - Females conform moer than males (Mori and Arai, 2010).
Personality - Those with low self-esteem conform more than those with high self-esteem.
Age - Young people conform more than older people.
Factors Affecting Conformity: Cultural Differences
Individualist (UK/ USA) - Individual goals are more important than group goals.
Collectivist (Japan) - Group goals are more important than indivdual goals.
Collectivist cultures conform more than Individualist cultures.
Mori and Arai (2010):
Aim: Partial replication of the Asch study, but without confederates.
Procedure: 40 male and 64 female participants were divided into groups of 4. Each was asked to identify which line out of the 3 matched a comparison line. Each participant wore glasses, but the minority participant wore a different pair (without being aware) which showed them a different correct answer. The minority participant went either last or second last.
Results: Females participants confromed to the group a mean of 4.41 times out of 12, and the male participants conformed a lower mean total.
Conclusion: Females are more likely to conform than males.
Mori and Arai (2010): Strengths
Participants knew each other, whereas in Asch they were strangers. Females may be particularly likely to conform to people they know, and are more likely to conform than males. Lack of males conforming may indicate social changes since 1950s.
Mori and Arai (2010): Weaknesses
Direct comparison between Asch and this study isn't possible because it is set in 2 different cultures, Asch didn't include females and Mori and Arai didn't use confederates unlike Asch.
Aim: To test whether participants would conform to a group view when they knew the group was wrong.
Procedure: Participants are asked to state which line from a multiple choice matches the length of another line. Confederates were asked to deliberately answer wrong on certain questions.
Results: A large majority of participants conformed to a wrong answer at least once. A sizeable minority of participants gave repeated wrong answers. Participants reported that they conformed becasue they feared ridicule. A small number of participants doubted their own judgement and concluded that the group must be right.
Conclusion: People will often conform to what others think even if they know it's wrong.
Asch (1951): Strengths
May explain why some young people can be influenced into destructive behaviour even though they know that it's wrong.
Asch (1951): Weaknesses
Lack of ecological validty because the task wasn't one likely to be faced in real life. Ethical problems - Asch deceived the participants about the nature of the experiement, he called it a 'vision test'. Some participants were harmed (use of confederates) as they doubted themselves etc.
Aim: To test the strengths of different types of conformity.
Procedure: Black American students were told that black only colleges were essential to support black culture (most of the students didn't agree with this previously). They then listened to a speaker put forward why black only colleges would be good. Afterwards, they were asked whether they agreed with the speaker.
Results: There are 3 factors in conformity; Power leads to complaince, Credibility leads to internalisation, Atrractiveness leads to identification. The most powerful of these 3 is Credibility because it is the only factor which leads to the person changing their viewpoint. By saying credibility is the strongest factor it allows the person to link their existing prejudice to the new information.
Conclusion: It was found that the strongest form of influence was credibility. In this situation the participant had internalised the belief and made it their own.
Kelman (1958): Strengths
High ecological validity, because it was within a college asking about opinions on colleges: also a 'live' political issue at the time.
Kelman (1958): Weaknesses
Ethical issues - welfare of participants? Topic chosen could have been quite emotive for many people.
Factors Affecting Obedience: Legitimate Authority
The authority figure must be seen as acting within their legitimate powers. For example, Bickman (1974) found that far more people would obey the actor dressed as a security guard - the uniform gave the impression of being legitimate.
Hofling (1966) found that nurses would obey the instructions of a doctor which went against three hospital rules: they didn't know the 'Dr Smith' who had phoned them; they hadn't received a written instruction, and the dosage they were told to administer was twice the maximum indicated on the bottle.
When Milgram (1974) repeated his experiment in a run-down office block rather than Yale University, far fewer people obeyed. He concluded that this was because the lower status of the building implied less authority.
Factors Affecting Obedience: Autonomous and Agentic Behaviour
Someone who is autonomous feels able to make their own choices, even when confronted with an authority figure. They make decisions based on their own beliefs and ideas.
Milgram (1974) found that where people felt personal responsibilty (autonomy) they were less likely to obey commands to inflict violence. Where they could tell someone else to press the switch to inflict the electric shocks (using an agent), far more people obeyed.
Hofling's research would support this: the nurses saw themselves as agents of the doctor, so they didn't have personal responsibilty for their actions.
The agentic state is when the person feels they have no control or choice. They give up their own free will to the authority figure and do as they are told. For example some of Milgram's participants said, "I was only doing as I was told" this showing that participants gave up their responsibility and choice to obey the authority figure.
Factors Affecting Obedience: Buffers
Where something separates the person giving the command from the person receiving it, the command is less effective. For example, Milgram (1974) discovered that participants were less likely to obey if the person giving the instruction was in another room. They were also more likely to obey if the 'victim' was in the same room and could not be seen or heard.
On the other hand, Hofling's experiment involved the doctor telephoning instructions to the nurses, yet they almost all obeyed him. This may be because this took place in a familiar environment and the nurses were used to following the instructions of a doctor.
Factors Affecting Obedience: Socialisation
Where someone is isolated (Hofling's nurses were not given the opportunity to dicuss the order with anyone) they are more likely to obey because they have a lack of social support.
Rank and Jacobsen (1975) conducted similar research to Hofling's, but found that very few nurses obeyed the instructions. One differnece between the two studies is that Rank and Jacobsen allowed each nurse to consult other nurses, so they could receive social support. When Milgram used a confederate who 'disobeyed' the authority figure, participants were much more likely to disobey.
Aim: To test whether people would be more likely to follow instructions from someone with perceived authority (security guard); someone in a uniform (security guard and milkman) or someone in casual clothes.
Procedure: Actor dressed as (i) security guard (ii) milkman (iii) civilian gave instructions to passer by.
Results: A large majority followed the instructions of the 'security guard': only a minority followed the other two, and there was no difference in reactions to the 'civilian' and the 'milkman'.
Conclusion: The security guard was perceived to have a legitimate authority in a way that the civilian and milkman were not.
Bickman (1974): Strengths
High ecological validity, as field experiment in natural situation.
Bickman (1974): Weaknesses
Wearing a uniform (milkman) is not enough to gain obedience if the uniform doesn't seem to denote authority. If none of the instructions asked people to break the law - would they still have obeyed?
Aim: To find out how obedient participants would be when asked by a figure in authority to give electric shocks to someone else.
Procedure: 40 male participants each took on the role of 'teacher' who was told by the experimenter to administer electric shocks to a 'learner' whenever they made mistakes. They believed the 'learner' was another participant but was really a confederate of Milgram
Results: All 40 participants obeyed up to 300 volts. 65% obeyed up to the maximum 450 volts. Participants showed sings of nervousness, inlcuding sweating, trembling and nervous laughter. Those who laughed were keen to explain that they didn't mean it. Three participants had seizures. Milgram later varied the experiement many times and found that obedience was reduced when: There was peer support, ie a 'participant' who would argue with/ disobey the experiementer. The experimenter dressed in civilian clothes rather than a laboratory coat. The experimenter was moved to a less prestigious location. The 'learner' was sitting close to/ could be seen and heard by the 'teacher'. The experimenter moved into another room.
Conclusion: An authority figure can influence a person's behaviour.
Milgram (1963): Strengths
Supports Milgram's agentic state theory, that people are more likely to obey if they are simply agents who are obeying orders and/ or if they in turn can delegate responsibilty to someone else.
Milgram (1963): Weaknesses
Experiment is very unethical as participants were deceived, suffered harm. There is a lack of ecological validity - if people know they are participants in an experiment they may feel reassured that 'it is not their fault' in a way they wouldn't if it were a real life situation.
Aim: To see if nurses will obey to an authority figure over the phone.
Procedure: Nurses were told via the phone by a 'Dr Smith' to administer a dosage of an unsual that was double the dose according to the bottle to a patient. This broke hospital rules because (i) the nurses should have questioned a 'doctor' they didn't know (ii) the instruction should have been in writing (iii) the dosage was double the suggested dose.
Results: 21 out of the 22 nurses obeyed the order. When another 22 nurses were asked if they would obey 21 out of 22 said they wouldn't. Due to the high status of the doctor the nurses valued themselves as no more than an agent and since the nurses were unfamiliar with the drug (it was made up) they weren't sure if the doctor was giving correct instructions or not.
Conclusion: An authority figure (doctor) can influence someone to obey.
Hofling (1966): Strengths
High ecological validity, in that it was a real hospital with real nurses.
Hofling (1966): Weaknesses
Challenges Milgram's findings: even a buffer (phone) was used and almost all the nurses obeyed. The nurses didn't give consent to take part and since their is a hierarchy at hospitals it is unsure if there was a social pressure to obey or if the results can be applied to other situations.
Rank and Jacobsen (1975):
Aim: To build on Hofling (1966) but using a drug the nurses are familiar with.
Procedure: 18 nurses were told by a fake doctor to administer 3 times the correct dosage of valium to a patient. The nurses had the opportunity to discuss this with other nurses.
Results: 16 of the 18 nurses refused. This may be because: They were familiar with the drug, so had prior knowledge on the correct dosage and they had peer support from other nurses.
Conclusion: Peer support and the use of a familiar drug reduces obedience levels.
Rank and Jacobsen (1975): Strengths
Supports Milgram's finding that peer support reduces levels of obedience to a 'wrong' command. Supports Milgram's agency theory: where the person feels a level of control (using their own expertise in having administered valium before), they are less likely to obey someone who tells them otherwise.
Rank and Jacobsen (1975): Weaknesses
Challenges findings of Hofling. A study doesn't necessarily have ecological validity just becasue it is a real life situation. The results can be very specific to a situation and changing any variables slightly can make a very dramatic effect on results.
Strategies for Resisting Social Pressure or Coercion: Moral Reasoning
Kolberg (1969) - people move through 3 levels (6 stages) of moral reasoning: Preconventional is usually reached by age 9, by which time moral judgement is based on what you can be rewarded or punished for. Conventional is the level which most adults never get beyond. Here, moral judgement is based on what is best for the majority; conformity to social norms and obeying the law. Postconventional is a level reached by 10-15% of adults, who make moral judgements based on their own values, although they will tendto obey the law where there is a conflict between them. The highest stage of this level is where people live according to what they see as universal principles which they perceive as being more important than following the law. People at the postconventional level are most likely to be able to resist social pressure.
Baumrind (1967) - identified 4 types of parenting: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and non-involved. Out of these 3, she concluded that authoritative parenting is the most successful. An authoritative parent is one who sets out rules and guidelines, but is also willing to be flexible and to respond to their child, and whose discipline is corrective rather than punishing. This type of parenting is also likely to lead to the child being able to resist coercion because they are equipped to question what they are told and to be assertive.
Strategies for Resisting Social Pressure or Coercion: Disobedient Models
Milgram (1974) found that participants who saw others 'disobeying' orders were more likely to disobey also. Linked to this is Milgram's agentic theory - if people see themselves as responsible for their own actions, they are less likely to blindly follow what someone else wants them to do.