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Flashcards in Social Influence And Social Change Deck (19)
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1

What is social change?

Occurs when whole societies, rather than just individuals, adopt new attitudes and beliefs e.g. accepting that the Earth orbits the sun, Women’s suffrage, gay rights and environmental issues

2

What were the lessons from minority influence research?

1- civil rights marches drew attention to continuing segregation
2- marches represented a minority and displayed consistency
3- deeper processing of the issue
4- augmentation principle- people risked their lives
5- snowball effect- gradual change from minority to majority support
6- Social cryptomnesia- people forget how social change occurred

3

Explain how civil rights marches drew attention to continuing segregation

- in 1950s in America, black segregation applied to all parts of America
- there were black neighbourhoods and, in the Southern states of America, services such as schools and restaurants were exclusive to whites
- civil rights marches of this period drew attention to the situation by providing social proof of the problem

4

Explain how marches represented a minority and displayed consistency

- many marches throughout movement of huge magnitude (many people taking part)
- even though it was a minority of the American population, they displayed consistency of message and intent

5

Explain deeper processing of the issue

Attention means that many people who had simply accepted the status quo began to think about the unjustness of it

6

Explain augmentation principle- people risked their lives

- for example, ‘freedom riders’ were mixed racial groups who got on buses in the south to challenge the fact that black people still had to sit separately on public transport
- many freedom riders were beaten and lead to incidents of mob violence

7

Explain snowball effect- gradual change from minority to majority support

- civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King continued to press for changes that gradually got the attention of the US government
- in 1964 the US Civil Rights Act was passed, which prohibited discrimination
- this represented a change from minority to majority support for civil rights

8

Social cryptomnesia- people forget how social change occurred

- when social change occurs the new attitude becomes an integral part of the society’s culture, and the source of the minority influence that led to it is often forgotten
- so social cryptomnesia refers to people having a memory that changed occurred but don’t remember how it happened
- there is no doubt that social change did come about and the South is quite a different place now, but some people have no memory of the events that led to that change, even though they lived through these changes

9

What are lessons from conformity research?

1-dissenters make social change more likely to occur
2- majority influence campaigns can appeal to NSI by highlighting what other people are doing

10

Explain how dissenters make social change more likely to occur

- Asch’s research highlighted the importance of dissent in one of his variations where one confederate gave correct answers throughout the procedure
- this broke the power of the majority encouraging others to dissent
- such dissent has the potential to ultimately lead to social change

11

Explain how majority influence campaigns can appeal to NSI by highlighting what other people are doing

- environmental and health campaigns have increasingly exploited conformity processes by appealing to NSI
- they do this by providing information about what other people are doing
- for example, reducing litter by printing normative messages on litter bins (“bin it-others do”)
- in other words, social change is encouraged by drawing attention to what the majority are really doing

12

What are the lessons from obedience research?

- disobedient role models make social change more likely to occur
- gradual commitment can be used ‘drift’ people into a new kind of behaviour

13

Explain how disobedient models make social change more likely to occur

- Milgram’s research clearly demonstrates the importance of disobedient role models
- in the variation where other participants (confederates) were also teachers, but refused to obey, the rate of obedience in the genuine participants plummeted

14

Explain how gradual commitment can be used ‘drift’ people into a new kind of behaviour

- Zimbardo (2007) suggested how obedience can be used to create social change through the process of gradual commitment
- once a small instruction is obeyed, it becomes more difficult to resist a bigger one
-people essentially ‘drift’ into a new kind of behaviour

15

What are the evaluation points for social influence and social change?

✅ research support for role of NSI in bringing about social change (Nolan)
❌ it has been argued that minority influence is only indirectly effective in bringing about social change (Nemeth)
❌ nature of deeper processing in minority influence has been questioned (Mackie)
❌ there are methodological issues in this area of research

16

Explain how there is research support for role of NSI in bringing about social change (Nolan)

- Nolan et al investigated whether social influence led to a reduction in energy consumption in a community
- they hung messages the front doors of houses in San Diego, California, every week for one month
- the key message was that most residents were trying to reduce their energy usage
- Nolan et al found significant decreases in energy uses in this community when compared to a control group who saw messages asking them to save energy but made no reference to other people’s behaviour
- this is a strength because it shows that conformity can lead to social change through the operation of NSI

17

Explain how it has been argued that minority influence is only indirectly effective in bringing about social change (Nemeth)

- Nemeth argues that the effects of minority influence are likely to be mostly indirect and delayed
- for example, it has taken decades for attitudes against drink-driving and smoking to shift= social change occurs very slowly
- the effects are indirect because the majority is influenced on matters only related to the issue at hand, and not the central issue itself and delayed because the effects might not be seen for some time
- this could be considered a limitation of using minority influence to explain social change because it shows the effects are fragile and its role in social influence may be very limited

18

Explain how the nature of deeper processing in minority influence has been questioned (Mackie)

- Moscovici’s conversion explanation argues that minority and majority influence involve different cognitive processes
- that is, minority influence causes individuals to think more deeply about an issue than majority influence
- Mackie disagrees and presents evidence that is majority influence may create deeper processing if you do not share their views
- this is because we like to believe that other people share our views and think in the same way as us (humans very social species that have a need to be accepted and correct)
- when we find that a majority believes something different, then we are forced to think long and hard about their arguments and reasoning
- this means that a central element of the process of minority influenced has been challenged and may even be incorrect, casting doubt on the validity of Moscovici’s research

19

Explain how there are methodological issues in this area of research

- explanations of how social influence leads to social change draw heavily upon the studies and thus findings and conclusions from Moscovici, Asch and Milgram
- all of these studies have been subject to critical evaluation regarding their methodologies- for example:
- Edward Sampson (1991) is particularly critical of laboratory research on minority influence (including Moscovici) and makes the following points:
- the participants in laboratory experiments are rarely 'real groups'. More often than not they are a collection of students who do not know each other and will probably never meet again
- they are also involved in an artificial task. As such they are very different from minority groups in the wider society who seek to change majority opinion
-for example, members of women's rights, gay rights and animal rights organizations, members of pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are very different from participants in laboratory experiments. They operate in different settings with different constraints. They often face much more determined opposition. They are committed to a cause; they often know each other, provide each other with considerable social support and sometimes devote their lives to changing the views of the majority.
- although lab experiment
= variables highly controlled etc hence high internal validity of Milgram but high external validity as Milgram argued that Milgram argued that the lab environment accurately reflected wider authority relationships in real life as other research supports this argument such as Hofling et al