What are the 3 types of conformity, and can you explain them?
1) Internalisation = genuinely accepting groups norms publicly and privately.
2) Identification = publically changing opinions; even if we don’t privately agree (identify with group).
3) Compliance = ‘going along with others’ in public but privately not changing opinions.
What are the two explanations for conformity?
1) Informational Social Influence (ISI)
- a desire to be right, e.g. going along with the majority if you are unsure of answer
- ambiguous or new situations.
2) Normative Social Influence (NSI)
- a desire to behave like others and not look foolish.
- behaving in the right way = social approval.
- unfamiliar and familiar situations.
(i) 1 evaluative strength for ISI
(ii) 1 evaluative limitation for ISI
(i) Research support:
- Lucas et al. (2006) - studied students on maths problems, the harder they got, the more conformity there was
= want to be right, as they’re unsure in their own ability, so conform.
(ii) Individual differences:
- Asch found students were less conformist than other participants (28% to 37%).
- Perrin + Spencer (1980) found this with engineering students
(i) 1 evaluative strength for NSI
(ii) 1 evaluative limitation for NSI
(i) Research support:
- Asch found some would give a wrong answer because they felt self-conscious and were afraid of disapproval.
= conformity fell to 12.5% when they wrote it down.
(ii) Individual differences:
- people who care more about being liked are called nAffiliators.
- McGhee + Teevan (1967) - found nAffiliators were more likely to conform
In what years did Asch carry out his studies?
Explain Asch’s (1951) procedure?
- 123 American male students.
- Each ‘tested’ with 6-8 confederates.
- Identified length of a standard line
- Confederates gave wrong answers together, some of the time
Describe Asch’s (1951) findings?
- Naive participants gave wrong answers 36.8% of the time when all the confederates gave wrong answers; ‘Asch effect’.
- 25% never gave a wrong answer, so 75% conformed at least once.
- Most said they conformed to avoid rejection (NSI) and they trust their own opinions privately (compliance)
What was Asch’s (1955) study about?
Variables affecting conformity
What were the 3 variables affecting conformity?
Group size, unanimity, task difficulty.
Describe Asch’s (1955) procedure
1) Group size varied between 1-15 confederates.
2) Confederate introduced who was dissenting but inaccurate or a truthful confederate.
3) Changing task difficulty; line lengths similar.
Give the findings of Asch’s (1955) study?
- Group size - conformity peaked at 3 confederates, 32%.
- Unanimity - dissenting confederate reduced conformity as the naive participant could behave independently.
- Task difficulty - conformity increased increased when the task was more difficult.
Critically evaluate Asch’s conformity research
1) ‘Child of the times’
- Perrin + Spencer (1980) found just 1/396 conformers in UK engineering students
- 1950s a more conformist time.
2) Situations and tasks were artificial:
- may have responded to demand characteristics.
- trivial tasks, not like everyday tasks.
3) Findings only apply to certain groups:
- only men tested by Asch.
- Neto (1995) - women might be more conformist as they care more about social relationships.
- America and individualistic culture, higher in collectivist?
4) Findings only apply to certain situations:
- William + Sogon (1984) - found conformity was higher when the majority were friends not strangers.
- Asch effect varies depending on circumstances.
Who did research into conformity to social roles?
Describe Zimbardo’s (1973) SPE procedure?
- Mock prison set up in basement of Stanford Uni.
- 24 emotionally stable students who were randomly assigned roles.
- Prisoners arrested in their homes
- Blindfolded, given numbers.
- Guards were told they had complete power over prisoners.
What were the findings and conclusions of Zimbardo’s (1973) study?
F- Prisoners rebelled within two days after being constantly harassed.
F- After the rebellion was put down, prisoners became subdued, depressed etc.
F- 3 prisoners were released early due to psychological disturbance.
F- 1 went on hunger strike; was put in the hole.
F- Study stopped after 6 days instead of intended 14.
C- Revealed power of the situation on people’s behaviour.
C- All conformed to social roles.
C- The more they identified with the role, the more aggressive they were.
Give a strength of the SPE
Some control over variables:
- chose emotionally stable to play roles, randomly assigned which meant that the results were down to situational pressures.
How would Banuazizi + Mohavedi (1975) criticise the SPE
SPE lacks realism:
- participants were play-acting, performances reflected stereotypes.
- One guard based his behaviour off the film Cool Hand Luke.
How would Fromm (1973) criticise the SPE
Underestimates dispositional influences:
- only 1/3 behaved brutally
- showed they could exert moral control over their actions.
Apart from Fromm and Banuazizi + Mohavedi’s limitations, give another limitation of the SPE.
- Reicher + Haslam (2006) found prisoners took control, possibly as the guards didn’t share a social identity but the prisoners did.
What was the procedure for Milgram (1963) study?
- 40 male participants, ages 20-50 and of differing levels of profession.
- Participant = teacher, Confederate = learner.
- Given an electric shock every time a wrong answer was given.
- Shocks went from 15V to 450V.
- Different prods were given by the experimenter, e.g. ‘please continue’.
What were the findings of Milgram’s (1963) study?
- No one stopped below 300V
- 12.5% stopped at 300V
- 65% went to 450V
What were the conclusions of the Milgram’s study?
- Milgram etc surprised; prediction of less than 3% would go to 450V.
- Participants debriefed to assure them that their behaviour was normal.
- 84% glad to have taken part.
- 74% felt they had learned something.
How does Milgram’s study;
(i) Lack internal validity
(ii) Have good external validity
(i) Orne + Holland (1968) suggested participants guessed the electric shocks were fake –> testing obedience?
- Sheridan + King (1972) found 100% of females and 54% of males gave what they thought was a fatal shock to a dog (study actually used real shocks).
(ii) Lab based relationship reflects wider-life authority:
- Hofling et al. (1966) - 21/22 nurses obeyed orders from doctors who gave unjustified demands.
A part from good external validity, positively evaluate Milgram’s study
- French documentary - 80% gave the 450V to an apparently unconscious man
A part from internal validity, critically evaluate Milgram’s study
- participants believed that they were randomly assigned.
- some showed trauma, some even had seizures.
- betrayal –> damage to psychologists and their research.
What are the 3 explanations for obedience based on situational variables, and what results back this up?
1) Proximity - obedience fell the closer the proximity of the teacher and experimenter.
- Same room = 40% to 450V
- Telephone instructions = 20.5% to 450V
2) Location - changed to run-down building
- Obedience fell to 47.5%
3) Uniform: lab coat worn as a symbol of authority.
- Variation had someone else put on the coat; wearing everyday clothes
- Obedience fell to 20% –> visual authority strongest?
Who gives research support for the influence of situational variables?
- Bickman (1974)
- Wore different uniforms, asked passers-by to provide a coin for the meter etc.
- 2x more likely to obey the ‘security’ guard than a guy with a jacket on.
How many Milgram’s variation research lack internal validity?
- Orne + Holland (1968) said participants even more likely to realise the faked procedure due to extra experimental manipulation, e.g. replacing teacher with member of the public.
A part from research support for situational variables, give another strength of Milgram’s research.
1) Replicated in other cultures:
- Miranda (1981) found over 90% obedience in Spanish students.
= individualist cultures though? can they apply to everyone everywhere?
2) Control of variables:
- systematically altered one variable at a time
- show cause and effect relationship between variables and obedience levels.
What are the two socio-psychological explanations for obedience?
1) Agentic state
2) Legitimacy of authority
Describe the agentic state
- A person who acts in the place of another.
- Feel no responsibility for their actions.
- If you perceive someone as an authoritative figure it leads to an agentic shift.
- Binding factors allow for diffusion of responsibility/ignoring of damaging effects to reduce moral strain, e.g. blaming the victim.
(i) 1 evaluative strength of agentic state.
(ii) 1 evaluative limitation of agentic state.
(i) Research support
- Blass + Schmidt (2001) showed students Milgram’s study - they blamed the experimenter rather than the teacher.
(ii) Doesn’t explain Nazi behaviour:
- Mandel (1998) noted German killing squads mass murdered without orders.
What is legitimacy of authority?
- Obeying people at the top of a social hierarchy.
- Authority is legitimised through society’s agreement; believe some should have power to allow society to function smoothly.
- We hand control over to authority figures due to trust and thorough upbringing via parents.
Give 2 evaluative strengths of legitimacy of authority
1) Useful account of cultural differences:
- Kilham + Mann - only 16% of Australians went to 450V
- Mantell - 85% of Germans went to 450V
= societal upbringing of accepting authority different?
= validity increase
2) Can explain real life obedience:
- My Lai could be explained by the hierarchy of the US army.
- Soldiers assumed the orders given by their superiors to be legal.
= destructive obedience.
Who developed the dispositional explanation for obedience, and what is it?
- Adorno et al. (1950)
- The authoritarian personality
What is the authoritarian personality?
- Extreme respect for authority and contempt for ‘inferiors’.
- Conventional attitudes towards race and gender.
- The AP forms from childhood; harsh parenting, loyalty high standards, conditional love.
- This parenting creates resentment, but children can’t release these emotions directly towards parents.
= taken out onto ‘weaker’ people.
What was the procedure of Adorno et al.’s (1950) study?
- 2000 middle class Americans.
- Investigating unconscious attitudes to other racial groups e.g. F-scale.
What were the findings of Adorno’s study?
- Authoritarians identified with ‘strong people’ and were contemptuous of the weak.
- They were conscious of the status of peoples.
- No blurred categories between people; fixed and distinctive stereotypes.
Who found a link between the authoritarian personality and obedience?
- Elms + Milgram (1966) interviewed fully obedient participants, all scoring highly on the F-scale.
- Just correlational though.
- Other factors like level of education?
How is the authoritarian personality a limited explanation for obedience?
- Millions of Germans displayed obedience and anti-Semitic behaviour –> not same personality.
- Social identity theory instead?
How is the F-scale politically biased?
- Christie + Jahoda - F scale measure right-wing ideology –> what about Maoism which still insists on obedience.
How does the research into the authoritarian personality use correlations?
- E.g. measures authoritarianism with prejudice.
- This does not show cause and effect.
- Can’t say harsh parenting leads to authoritarian personality.
Give two explanations for resistance to social influence
1) Social support
2) Locus of control
How does social support lead to resistance of social influence?
- Conformity reduced by dissenting peer, who acts as a model
= if non-conformist starts conforming, peers start conforming again.
- Obedience reduces if another is seen to be disobeying
= they are able to act under own conscious
Who came up Locus of Control (LOC), what two types are there, and explain them.
- Internal = things that happens to people are dictated by themselves.
- External = things that happen outside of their control
Which type of LOC is more likely to show greater resistance to social influence and why?
- They take personal responsibility for their own action.
- More self-confident so don’t feel the need for social approval.
What research support is there for ‘social support’?
- Support in role of dissenting peers in resisting conformity:
- Allen + Levine found independence increased with one dissenter in an Asch-type study.
- Relieving of pressures = free will enabled.
What research support is there for LOC and resistance to obedience?
- Holland (1967) repeated Milgram’s study to find internals or externals.
- 37% of internals did not go to 450V.
- 23% of externals did not go to 450V.
= validity of LOC.
How does Twenge et al (2004) dispute the link between LOC and resistance to social influence?
- Analysed data from American LOC studies over 40 years.
- More independent but also more extenrals.
- If resistance linked to ILOC, we would expect more internals.
How might the role of LOC in resisting social influence be exaggerated?
- Rotter (1982).
- LOC only important in new situations
- Explains why high ILOC are likely to conform again.
How does a minority change the opinions of others?
What 3 factors are needed to change a minority influence?
Explain commitment in the case of minority influence?
- Create some risk to the minority to demonstrate commitment to cause.
- Augmentation principle = people pay even more attention because of risk
Explain consistency in the case of minority influence?
- Makes people rethink their own views.
- Minority views get more interest.
1) Synchronic consistency = people in the minority group saying the same thing.
2) Diachronic consistency = saying the same thing for some time.
Explain flexibility in the case of minority influence?
- Balance consistency and flexibility to not appear rigid.
- e.g. adapting their own point of view and accepting reasonable counter arguments.
What are the two words for when the minority view becomes the majority view; explain it.
- Snowball effect.
- The more this happens, the higher the traction.
- Minority –> majority = social change.
Describe Moscovici et al’s (1969) procedure?
- Group of 6 viewed a set of 36 blue/green slides.
- Had to state whether they were green or blue.
1) Confederates consistent
2) Confederates inconsistent
3) No confederates.
What were the findings of each of Moscovici’s conditions?
1) 32% gave the same answer on at least one trial.
2) Agreement fell to 1.25%
3) Wrongly identified colour 0.25% of the time.
Give 2 positive evaluations of minority influence
1) Research demonstrates importance of consistency:
- Moscovici found consistent minority hard a greater effect on people.
- Woods et al. (1994) meta-analysis of 100 studies found that consistency was most influential in change.
2) Research supports the involvement of internalisation in minority influence:
- Moscovici varied his study - participants wrote their answers down = agreement with minority greater.
- Members of majority reluctant to admit their ‘conversion’.
= effect not apparent, but there.
Give 2 negative evaluations of minority influence
1) Minority influence research involves artificial tasks:
- Moscovici’s task identifying slides doesn’t show a minority –> majority shift
= lacks external validity.
2) Application of MI research are limited:
- Real life situations more complicated.
- Majority usually have power and status whereas minorities don’t.
- MI research doesn’t explain the dynamics of these groups so may not be applicable where power is a huge influence.
Describe lessons learned from minority influence
e. g. Civil Rights.
1) Civil right marches drew attention to segregation.
2) Minority marched but they were consistent.
3) Deeper thinking followed of the unjustness of it all.
4) Augmentation principle - freedom riders were mixed racial groups who got on buses in the south to challenge separate seating.
5) Snowball effect - MLK got attention of the US Gov which led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
What is social cryptoamnesia?
Having a memory that something changed but not remembering how it changed.
Describe lessons from conformity research
- Dissenters make social change more likely.
- Majority influence + NSI; Gov and health campaigns exploit conformity by appealing to NSI.
= by providing info on what others are doing; it draws attention to the majority’s behaviour.
Describe lessons from obedience research
- Disobedient models make change more likely.
- Gradual commitment leads to ‘drift’ into a new kind of behaviour.
How is minority influence only indirectly effective in creating social change?
- Nemeth (1986) - effects of minority influence are indirect and delayed, e.g. took decades to change attitudes towards smoking.
Indirect = majority only influenced by central matters not the matter itself.
Delayed = effects not noticed for some time.
Why does Bashir et al. (2013) say identification is an important overlooked variable in minority influence research?
- Suggests people are less environmentally friendly so they don’t get labelled as environmentalists e.g. tree huggers.
- Minorities should change behaviour so to not reinforce negative stereotypes.
How are there methodological issues in the area of social influence and social change?
- Explanations rely on studies by Moscovici, Asch + Milgram.
- They used artificial tasks; does that reflect real-life?