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Flashcards in Social Psychology Studies Deck (57):

What are the studies researching social influence?

-Asch (1951)
-Crutchfield (1956)
-Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment (1973)
-Perrin and Spencer (1980)/(1981)
-Milgram (1963)
-Hofling et al (1966)
-Bickman (1974)
-Meeus and Raaijmakers (1986)


Asch (1951): Aims

Can a majority influence a minority even when the situation is unambiguous?


Asch (1951): Participants

Male university students, who were told the experiment was about perception.


Asch (1951): Procedure

-Line judgement task, 6 confederates and 1 naïve participant.
-Asked which of three lines were the same length as stimulus line X.
-On critical trials, confederates had to give the incorrect answer unanimously. The genuine participant was seated towards the end of the group.
-The performance of the participants exposed to group pressure was compared to performance in a control situation in which there were no confederates.
-Control trial; 36 participants, 20 trials each, 0.7% trials were incorrect.


Asch (1951): Findings

-32% conformity rate, meaning participants gave wrong answer a third of the trials.
-75% conformed at least once, so 25% didn't conform at all.
-5% conformed on every trial.


Asch (1951): Conclusions

-A majority can influence a minority even if the task is unambiguous.
-Group pressure to conform is much stronger than previously thought.
-However, two thirds of trials showed no conformity so people can successfully resist majority influence.


Asch (1951): Criticisms

+Ambiguous situation successfully created
-Only used men, ignoring half the population, making it harder to generalise.
-Lack of ecological validity, only male university students were used.
-Lack of mundane realism, line judgement is not a normal task to do in a conformity situation.
-Amongst strangers, conformity is normally observed within social groups.
-Lack of temporal validity, America was very conformist in 1940/50's. There was a change in society as doing your own thing was more accepted 1960's onwards. It has been described as 'a child of its time'.
-Ethical issues, no consent as it involved deception. It was an embarrassing situation for the participants who felt distressed and anxious.
-Didn't come to any conclusions about why there was a high conformity rate, or why some people never conformed at all (individual differences).


Asch (1951): Naïve participants explanations

-Demand characteristics, thought they were acting like experimenter wished them to
-Doubted validity of own judgement, e.g. though it was eyestrain, chair in wrong place
-Some denied having incorrect answers
-Didn't want to feel odd one out.


Asch (1951): Variations

-Number of confederates in the group (1956)
-Majority influence increased as confederates went up from one to three. Anything above seven confederates, conformity decreases because situation seems suspicious and less credible.
-Social support (1956)
-A confederate who also gave the correct answer, showed only a 5% conformity rate on crucial trials. Participants less bothered about not conforming as someone else has also disagreed with the majority.


Crutchfield (1956): Aims

Thought Asch's results were due to the procedures used so he wanted to do an experiment similar to Asch's and see if the results were the same.


Crutchfield (1956): Participants

Over 600 participants, which included college students and military personnel.


Crutchfield (1956): Procedures

-He gave participants Asch-like tasks while sitting in booths. Also did a range of other tasks, ranging from easy to hard, and including opinion questions.
-They had to respond to the stimulus material, presented on screen by flicking one of the five switches representing the answers.
-Conformity was encouraged by giving participants what they thought were the responses of participants in other but was actually what Crutchfield had programmed to be shown, and completely different to other participants' answers.


Crutchfield (1956): Findings

-Similar results to Asch
-Around 30% but was slightly lower by a few percent.
-Most participants did not conform.


Crutchfield (1956): Conclusions

-Crutchfield found similar results to Asch, but also found that as task difficulty increased, so did conformity.
-He also showed conformity in opinions, not just factual information.
-He also found conformity occurred when participants were not face to face.


Crutchfield (1956): Criticisms

-Lack of ecological validity, only university students and military personnel were used.
-Lack of mundane realism, not task you would do everyday.
-Amongst strangers, conformity is normally observed within social groups.
-Ethical issues, no consent as it involved deception.


Perrin and Spencer (1980): Aims

Are Asch's finding a product of the time the study was done?


Perrin and Spencer (1980): Participants

Male engineering students from a British University


Perrin and Spencer (1980): Procedures

Replication of Asch (1951)
-Line judgement task


Perrin and Spencer (1980): Findings

Virtually no conformity
-Conformity on 1 trial out of 396


Perrin and Spencer (1980): Conclusions

-As virtually no conformity was found it does show the changes social climate of the 1980's did less to encourage conformity than 1950's America.
-They also found that task familiarity was a factor of conformity


Perrin and Spencer (1980): Criticisms

-Used male engineering students, less susceptible to social influence because they're more confident with their answers due to task familiarity. Hard to say whether no conformity was due to changed social climate of task familiarity.
-Only used men, ignoring half the population, making it harder to generalise.
-Lack of ecological validity, only male engineering university students were used.
-Lack of mundane realism, line judgement is not a normal task to do in a conformity situation.
-Amongst strangers, conformity is normally observed within social groups.
-Ethical issues, no consent as it involved deception. It was an embarrassing situation for the participants who felt distressed and anxious.


Perrin and Spencer (1981): Conclusions

They measured conformity with probation officers and people on probation.
Found people on probation were very susceptible to conforming to agree with probation officers.
-Concluded factors influencing conformity included:


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Aims

Investigating if social roles in prison were causing violence (situational explanations), or was it the disposition of the (sadistic) officers and prisoners (dispositional explanation).
-If you put good people in bad place would it make them bad?


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Participants

21 male college students were chosen from 75 volunteers. They had all been screened for psychological normality and were paid $15 a day to take part.
-They were each randomly assigned the role of either prisoner or guard.


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Procedure

Zimbardo put his participants in a mock prison where he monitored whether there was hostility. If there was despite not using sadistic guards, it would suggest the power structure of prisons created hostility.
-The experiment was shut down after 6 days, even though it was intended to run for a fortnight due to the psychological distress it was causing to those involved.


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Findings

-Violence and rebellion broke out within two days. The prisoners ripped off their clothing, shouted and cursed at the guards, and the guards reacted violently. As time went on, the prisoners became more submissive and guards became more violent, using force and aggression in response.
-One prisoner showed severe symptoms of emotional disturbance (uncontrollable screaming and crying) and so was released after one day.


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Conclusions

Brutality and aggression in prisons are due mainly to the power structure, and the study shows conformity by identification.
The study also showed the stereotypes about the kinds of behaviour expected to see from guards and prisoners.


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Criticisms

+Showed that a change was needed in prison formation as it was clear the power structure was causing the violence.
-Many ethical issues surrounding the experiment, including psychological harm and lack of fully informed consent.
-The mock prison was very different from a real prison. The prisoners hadn't committed a crime and could leave at any time,
-The artificial setup may have produced effects due to participant reactivity (independent variable has an effect on participants as they know they are being observed), with the participants merely-play acting. However guards did go beyond play-acting.
-Guards' hostility could be because they were following Zimbardo's instructions, when he briefed them beforehand.
-The advert could have attracted naturally aggressive people, as shown in Carahan and McFarland (2007).


Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment (1973): Ethics

-Zimbardo said participants had signed a formal consent form which indicated there would be a loss of privacy, some civil rights and harassment. However, as the experiment was unpredictable it was impossible to full consent as Zimbardo himself did not know the full extent it would go to.
-It is also argued that he failed to protect his participants from physical and psychological harm, as it could be said it was predictable the mock guards would attack the mock prisoners. The prisoners especially were severely humiliated and experienced distress.
-One prisoner was left psychologically harmed after he had to be released due to uncontrollable thoughts, screaming and crying.


Milgram (1963): Aims

-How obedient people would be to a legitimate authority, and if they would go the extent of risking someone else's life.
-When asking other psychological lecturers and students, they though very few (1.2%) would administer the highest degree of shock (450 volts).


Milgram (1963): Participants

Forty male volunteers from all backgrounds. They were led to believe they were taking part in an experiment on punishment on learning.


Milgram (1963): Procedure

-At Yale University, the naïve participant was assigned the role of the teacher and a middle-aged confederate who was said to have a heart condition. A word association test was the learning task and the teacher was instructed to give a shock to the learner for each incorrect answer, increasing in volts each time.
-The learner was attached to an electric shock generator which ranged in shock from 15 to 450 volts, named XXX. The subject was given a shock of 45 volts to show the shocks were real, but actually the confederate was receiving no shock. The participant were told the shocks would cause no tissue damage and were safe.
-The teacher and learner were in different rooms, with them communicating over an intercom. The teacher was told by an experimenter in a lab coat to administer shocks of increasing voltage each time. If at any point the teacher showed resistance to giving the shocks, the experimenter would command him to continue, using phrases ranging from 'please continue', to 'you have no choice, you must go on'.
-The experiment stopped either when the learner refused to continue or the maximum volts had been exerted.
-The participant was then de-briefed as to the real nature of the task, re-introduced to the learner in a friendly way and reassured that no damage had been done.


Milgram (1963): Findings

-65% of participants continued to the maximum shock (450 volts)
-No subject stopped before 300 volts.


Milgram (1963): Conclusions

Participants were extremely obedient and acted completely differently to psychology experts predicted.


Milgram (1963): Criticisms

+Changed the way psychologists think about obedience and has lead to a large amount of other leading research into obedience.
+Challenged the explanation that obedience to unreasonable orders was due to disposition, as suspected in Germans.
-Ethical problems
-Hard to generalise, only males in a prestigious university.
-Lack of mundane realism, due to giving shocks in not something in everyday life (Orne and Holland (1968))
-No explanation why 35% didn't give the largest shock.


Milgram (1963): Ethics

-Deception: participants thought shocks were real and even though informed consent was gained, they had no idea what was happening so it could be said that they did not consent at all.
-Even though they were told they could leave, the participants felt they were unable to leave as the experimenter was urging them to go on.
-Psychological harm: participants showed signs of sweat, trembling, stuttering, biting their lips, and digging their fingers into their flesh, also going to the extent of having uncontrollable seizures in three participants.


Milgram (1963): Dealing with ethics

-Met with unharmed learner, assured no shocks were given
-Extended discussion with Milgram, saying behaviour was normal, and supported.
-Received report
-Follow up questionnaire.
-None shown to have psychological harm a year later.


Milgram (1963): Ethics questionnaire

-92% responded (huge amount)
-84% glad they participated, t glad.
-74% said they learnt something of self importance.


Milgram (1963): Variations

-Institutional context (run down office building): decrease to 48%.
-Proximity (teacher/learner same room): decrease to 40%.
-Touch proximity (teacher put hand on shock pad): decrease to 30%.
-Remote authority (instructions via telephone): decrease to 20%.
-Two peers (teacher only required to deliver shocks, one confederate left at 150v, other at 210v): decrease to 10%.
-Peer administers the shock: increase
-Female participants: No difference


Hofling et al (1966)

-Investigated obedience in American hospitals
-95.5% (21/22) of nurses obeyed an unknown doctor's telephone instructions to administer twice the allowed dose of a drug (harmless placebo) that was clearly labelled with warnings against such an action and that was not on the ward stock list.
-This was in contrast to 21 out of 22 nurses who replied that they would not have obeyed the doctor and broken hospital regulations for medication when asked how they would have reacted.
-Lacks ecological validity, medical hierarchy, nurses always obedient to doctors.


Bickman (1974)

-Investigated obedience on the streets of New York.
-He revealed that when an experimenter was dressed in a guard's uniform an told passers-by to pick up paper bags or give a coin to a stranger there was 80% obedience, compared to 40% when the experimenter was dressed more 'normally'. A milkman's uniform, however, did not have the same effect as the guard's on obedience.


Meeus and Raaijmakers (1986)

-Investigated obedience in a business setting in Holland.
-Had an experimenter ask subjects to act as interviewers, supposedly to test the effect of stress on job applicants by delivering 15 increasingly distressing and insulting remarks to applicants (confederates) at a time of high employment.
-91.5% of their subjects obeyed the experimenter and made all 15 remarks, despite the psychological distress shown by the applicants.
-Lack of informed consent due to deception.
-Psychological harm (not to the extent of Milgram).
-More mundane realism, more normal tasks than Milgram, meaning increased ecological validity.


What are the studies researching independent behaviour?

-Burger (1992)
-Rotter (1996)
-Gamson et al (1982)


Burger (1992)

Demonstrated that people with a high need for personal control are more likely to resist conformity pressures than those with a lower need.


Rotter (1966)

People who believe they have control over their successes and failures are described as processing an internal locus of control.
Other people believe that their lives are controlled by force outside themselves, for example by luck; they have an external locus of control.
-Locus of control is measures on Rotter's IE scale, continuous (fluid model, no fixed points)


Gamson et al (1982): Aims

Thought people needed to work together to be disobedient
-New procedure to study encounters with unjust authority (like Milgram).


Gamson et al (1982): Participants

33 groups of 9 people.
-Intended to carry out with 80 groups.


Gamson et al (1982): Procedures

Gamson set up a fictitious public relations firm (MHRC). Participants were employed to help the company collect opinions on moral standards. A group of nine participants met at a motel (not very legitimate authoritative). Asked to engage in a discussion which would be video taped (used in court cases).
-Participants were asked t discuss attitudes towards Mr C's lifestyle; 'behaved immorally and made him unfit to be the local representative of service station, he was living with a young woman but not married. Suing for unfair dismissal, spoken out on tv against higher petrol prices.
-The co-ordinator switched off the video camera at various times, and asked participants to argue as if they were against Mr C's case, and the tape was switched back on. They group caught on and realised they were being manipulated to produce a tape of evidence supporting the oil company's position.
-In some groups, participants threatened to confiscate the tape, and expose the oil company to the media. In all groups there was rebellion, but four groups refused to sign the affidavit (legally binding contract to use in court).


Gamson et al (1982): Findings

-16/33 groups totally refused, both signing affidavit and acting.
-9/33 refused to sign
-4/33 showed signs of rebellion but did sign
-4/33 was no majority of rebellious participants


Gamson et al (1982): Conclusion

Study provides a contrast with Milgram because in 29 out of 33 groups, there was successful resistance to unjust authority. Occurred because one member in the group spontaneously rebelled and this minority swayed most of the groups. Core of committed individuals may mount resistance and other join in, snowball effect.
Thought independency was because:
-Study took place at s time when Americans had come to be more challenging of authority - social climate very low trust in US government and oil companies.
-MHRC coordinator had less authority than the experimenter in Milgram's experiment.
-Involved groups who behave differently to individuals because the possibility of collective action exists (group together and resist authority) - allowed breaks to mix freely with each other and agree authority was illegitimate
-Refusal was higher in groups disagreeing with dismissal
-People in groups were already involved in protests and strikes (civil rights movement).


Gamson et al (1982): Criticisms

+High level of mundane realism, and ecological validity.
-Ethical issues: participants reported feelings on anxiety and stress. Lack of informed consent, only prior general consent. Had to stop study after 33 groups (80 intended).


What are the studies researching minority influence?

-Moscovici (1969)
-Nemeth (1986)
-Van Avermaet (1996)
-Hogg and Vaughan (1998)
-Perez et al (1995)


Moscovici (1969)

Minorities are most effective if:
-They are consistent over time.
-Are consistent within the group.
-Inconsistent responses lead to majority not listening.


Nemeth (1986)

Even when a majority is seen to be wrong it can have an important influence in creating productive thinking among majority members of a society and social change can result.


Van Avermaet (1996)

The Snowball Effect
-One way in which minorities convert majorities. Members of the majority slowly move towards the minority, and as the minority grows in size it gradually picks up momentum so that more and more majority members convert to the minority opinion. Eventually the minority grows into a snowball so large that it becomes the majority.


Hogg and Vaughan (1998)

Hogg and Vaughan argue that we are most likely to be influenced by members of out in-group than we are by members of an out-group.


Perez et al (1995)

The forgetting of the source of social change after it becomes an integral part of the society's culture is called social Cryptoamnesia.