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Flashcards in Social influence Deck (71)
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3 types of conformity






Agree with group externally but keep personal opinions, temporary change in behaviour



Behaviour and private values change only when with the group, as membership is valued.



Personal opinions genuinely change to match the group. This is a permanent change.


Explanations of conformity

Informational social influence

Normative social influence.


Informational social influence

If correct behaviour is uncertain, we look to the majority for guidance on how to behave because we want to be correct. Informational social influence results in internalisation.


Normative social influence

When the individual wants to appear normal and be one of the majority, so they are approved and not rejected. Normative social influence leads to compliance.


Evidence supporting normative social influence.

Asch 1951 when given an unambiguous line length test with confederates choosing the incorrect response, participants gave the incorrect response 32% of trials.

When interviewed, participants suggested they conformed to a void rejection from the group majority supporting normative social influence.


Evidence supporting informational social influence

Jenness 1932 who asked participants first alone, then in groups, then make second guess alone the number of beans in a jar an ambiguous task.

Individuals second private guess moved closer to the group guess, supporting the informational social influence explanation for conformity.


Evidence against informational and social influence explanations for conformity

There is some evidence some people are more able to resist social pressures to conform such as locus of control.


Who did a study on the variables affecting conformity that you need to know?

Asch 1951


What 3 variables did Asch use in his study to see the affect on conformity?

Group Size


Task difficulty


Procedure Asch 1951 variables affecting conformity

Participants were deceived and asked to take part in a "visual perception task" and tested with 7-9 confederates.

1st card has a standard line, 2 card had three comparison lines, only one being the same length as the standard line.

Groups were then asked on 18 trials which comparison line was the same as the standard. On 12 'Critical' trials confederates gave wrong answers.


Results of all Asch conformity study.

Conformity was 32%,
0.04% in control group.

75% conformed at least once

5% all 12 times.


Results of Asch conformity study when Group size was changed?

3% conformity with 1 confederate

13% with two confederates

33% with three confederates

Didn't increase with more confederates


Results of Asch conformity study when Unanimity was changed?

If one confederate gives the correct response disagreeing with the majority conformity drops to 5.5%, due to the role of social support.


Results of Asch conformity study when Task difficulty was changed?

When the difference between the line lengths is small conformity increased in the study due to the role of informational social influence.


Evidence against Asch variables affecting conformity study.

4 long points never going to remember on flashcard for whiteboard.

Task was insignificant and did not have any moral importance - therefore, there were few costs attached to conforming. It was not a type of task that we confront in everyday life, meaning that it has low ecological validity. This limits the extent we can generalise results to conformity in everyday life.

Asch sample were male American students as a result having a low population validity and ethnocentric bias we cannot tell whether women or other cultures would conform in a similar way.

Study raises ethical issues - participants were deceived and might have felt humiliated as there was no protections in place for participants of psychological harm.

Perrin and Spencer 80 claimed the study was a 'child of its time' - that the climate of 50's America was particularly conformist and that social chance since the 50's has meant that people are now far more non-conformist and independent. When they repeated Asch's study in the UK in the 70's using science and engineering student they found only 1 conformist response out of 396 trials.


Who conducted a study on testing conformity to social roles?

Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment 71


What was Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment 71 procedure?

Fake prison created in the basement of Stanford university, 21 male students rated as physically and mentally stable chosen from 75 volunteers who responded to newspaper adverts who were randomly selected into 10guards and 11 prisoners.

Prisoners given realistic arrest by local police, fingerprinted, stripped, deloused and given a prison uniform and number to dehumanise them. They had to follow strict rules during the day. Guards had complete control and given a uniform, clubs, handcuffs and sunglasses to avoid eye contact.


What were the results of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment?

Prisoners and guards confirmed to their social roles quickly, but after two days prisoners revolted against the poor treatment by the guards. In day six of the experiment was cancelled early due to fears for the prisoner's mental health.

Extreme behaviour of previously stable students suggests prison environments have the situational power to change behaviour to conform to socially defined roles.


What are the evaluative weaknesses of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment?

Ecological validity, clearly the prison was not real and the participants were engaged role play rather than a real-life situation, knew they could leave the experiment when they wished, and were only confined for a short period of time. To what extent we can generalise findings to real institutions and real abuse of power by guards against prisoners is, therefore, debatable.

Ethically questionable psychological study. Although participants gave informed consent they were not told they would be arrested at home. They were not deceived and were given the right to withdraw, but they were subject to fairly severe physical and psychological harm, and it is argued that Zimbardo had a moral responsibility to stop the study as soon as the guards showed any signs of brutality.


What are the evaluate strengths of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment?

The social roles given to the guard and prisoner of powerful and powerless do seem associated in the real world with sadistic violence.

He counselled participants afterwards to cope with their experiences and that the study illustrated such an important aspect of human behaviour that the temporary suffering experienced by some participants was justified.

Behaviour of the guards in study has been witnessed countless times in total institutions e.g. Abu Graib prison in Iraq where a number of American soldiers were found to have sadistically abused Iraqi prisoners.


What was Milgram's obedience study? Procedure.

Milgram 1963 was a study to test obedience in response to the holocaust.

40 male 20-50 year old volunteers to a newspaper advert for a study on 'memory'. Participants were given the role of teacher and introduced to confederates "professor" in a lab coat and "learner".

Learner was strapped to a chair in another room and had electrodes attached. Participant told to deliver electric shocks, becoming intense ranging 15-450volts when "learner" answered incorrectly.

At 300volts the "learner" made noise and refused to go on, after 315volts the "learner" made no more noise, indicating unconsciousness or death. If the participant/teacher resisted the "professor" encouraged them to continue.


What was the findings from Milgram's obedience study?

Participants became distressed but continued to obey:
100% continuing to 300volts
12.5% stopped at 300volts
65% continued to the max 450volts


What was the 3 variations Milgram did to his obedience study to see situational variables affecting obedience?

Proximity replication

Location replication

Uniform replication


What was the proximity replication of Milgram's obedience study?

Learner is in the same room.


What were the results in the proximity replication of Milgram's obedience study?

Obedience dropped to 40%
On holding hand on shock plate it fell further to 30%


What was the Location replication of Milgram's obedience study?

At office block in run down area.


What was the results of the location replication of Milgram's obedience study?

Obedience fell to 47.6% due to lack of legitimacy of authority