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1. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKSocial psychologyThis part of unit two focuses on how people can influence other people’sattitudes, beliefs and behaviours.Conformity…
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  • 1. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKSocial psychologyThis part of unit two focuses on how people can influence other people’sattitudes, beliefs and behaviours.Conformity this is defined as:‘A change in behaviour or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure’TYPES AND EXPLANATIONS OF CONFORMITYFirstly you need to know about types of conformity (compliance andinternalisation) as well as explanations of conformity (normative influenceand informational social influence).TYPES OF CONFORMITY • Compliance – this refers to instances where a person may agree in public with a group of people but the person actually privately disagrees with the group’s viewpoint or behaviour. This type of conformity therefore does not lead to a change in a person’s private beliefs. For example a person may laugh at a joke because their group of friends find it funny but deep down the person does not find the joke funny. • Internalisation – this refers to instances where a person behaves or agrees with a group of people because they have actually accepted the group’s point of view or beliefs. This type of conformity does result in a change to persons’ private beliefs and attitudes as a result it may have longer lasting effects than public compliance. An example of internalisation is if someone lived with a vegetarian at university and then decides to also become one too because they agree with their friends viewpoint / someone converting religions would also be a good example. 1
  • 2. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKEXPLANATIONS OF CONFORMITYThis covers reasons why people may conform, namely normative influenceand informational social influence. Normative influence This refers to instances where someone conforms in order to fit in and gain approval or avoid disapproval from other group members. For example a person may feel pressurised to smoke because the rest of their friends are. Normative influence tends to lead to compliance because the person smokes just for show but deep down they wish not to smoke. For a study on this refer to Asch. Informational social influence This refers to instances where people conform because they are uncertain about what to do in a particular situation, so they look to others for guidance. This explanation tends to lead to internalisation. An example of this is if someone was to go to a posh restaurant for the first time, they may be confronted with several forks and not know which one to use, so they might look to a near by person to see what fork to use first. For a study on this refer to Jenness.STUDIES ON CONFORMITY: Asch’s study (A01) Asch wanted to investigate whether people would conform to the majority in situations where an answer was obvious. In Asch’s study there were 7 participants per group. Each group was presented with a standard line and three comparison lines. Participants had to say aloud which comparison line matched the standard line in length. In each group there was only one true participant the remaining 6 were confederates. The confederates were told to give the incorrect answer on 12 out of 18 trails. True participants conformed on 32% of the critical trials where confederates 2
  • 3. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACK gave the wrong answers. Additionally 74% of the sample conformed to the majority on at least one trial.Please note: You do not need to know all the evaluation points you know but try to select at least 3 or 4 points that you feel comfortable with. Evaluation of Asch’s study (A02): Firstly there are issues regarding the validity of this study:  This study lacks ecological validity as it was based on peoples’ perception of lines, this does not reflect the complexity of real life.  There are also sampling issues regarding this study as the study was only carried out on Men thus the sample was gender bias and therefore the results cannot be applied to females.  There is also the argument that Asch’s results are only true of the time in which he carried out his study, this is supported by Larson as he found when repeating Asch’s study 20 years later, conformity levels had dropped. The proposed reason for this difference is that at the time of Asch’s study deviating from the majority and showing independence was frowned upon; hence why conformity levels may have been high. Nowadays independence is encouraged. This again questions how valid Asch’s results are – it implies that Asch’s results were only true of the time in which he carried out his study.  There is also evidence that there are cross-cultural differences in conformity levels for instance Perrin and Spencer replicated Asch’s study in the UK and found that only 1 (idiot, ONLY JOKING) conformed out of 396. This shows that Asch’s cannot be applied to different cultures.  Moreover, there are ethical issues regarding Asch’s study – Mention deception as participants were told the study was about perception of lines. As a result they could not give informed consent. Furthermore it is possible that the participants may have felt embarrassed when the true nature of the study was revealed. Thus could potentially put them through some form of psychological harm. However Asch did debrief at the end.  For extra A02 points link Asch’s results to theories/reasons why people may conform to the majority. For instance some P’s said they conformed to fit in with the group, this claim coincides (supports) ‘Normative influence’ which states that people conform to fit in when privately disagreeing with the majority.  Also don’t forget that Asch carried out variations of his original study and found that when one of the confederates gave the correct answer conformity levels dropped considerably, suggesting that the presence of an ally (friend) can make a person feel less pressurised to conform.  Moreover when the experiment was done on Mathematicians and Engineers conformity levels also dropped and it was suggested that 3
  • 4. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACK the reason for this was because such people would have been more confident in the actual line task as their job would involve such tasks.Jenness’ Bean jar experiment Jenness carried out a study into conformity – in his experiment participants were asked to estimate how many beans they thought was in a jar. Each participant had to make an individual estimate, and then do the same as a group. He found that when the task was carried out in a social group, the participants would report estimates of roughly the same value (even though they had previously reported quite different estimates as individuals). The study was successful in showing majority influence, thus proving that individuals behaviour and beliefs can be influenced by a group. Additionally this is likely to be an example of informational social influence as participants would be uncertain about the actual number of beans in the jar.Zimbardo’s - PRISON STUDY In this study Zimbardo got a set of students to take part in a simulation of a Prison in Stanford University. Participants were given either the role of a prisoner or Prison guard. At the beginning of the experiment the prisoners started to rebel and the Guards became strict. However soon after the prisoners initial rebellion they begun to give in to the guards orders and became withdrawn.After 6 days the experiment had to be cut short as the prisoners wereclearly experiencing distress and many had asked to withdraw.This study had various ethical issues e.g. participants especially prisonerswere clearly put through psychological harm. However Zimbardo diddebrief participants thoroughly and followed them up again a year later.In terms of conformity- in this study participants conformed to the rolesthey had been given e.g. Guards acted out the role of a tough personwhereas prisoners became submissive (which means they gave intoorders) and also withdrawn. This could also link into obedience becauseprisoners gave into the orders of the prison guards. 4
  • 5. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACK OBEDIENCE Defined as a person who complies with orders that are given by a legitimate authority figure. A study into obedience is Milgram’s electric shock study – you need to know this study inside and out! Milgram’s study (A01) Aim: Milgram wanted to know why Germans were willing to kill Jews during the Holocaust. He thought that it might have been because German’s were just evil. He thought that Americans were different and would not have followed such orders. To test this ‘German’s are different’ hypothesis he carried out this study (outlined below). Procedure: Milgram wanted to see whether people would obey a legitimate authority figure when given instructions to harm another human being. To test this he created a set up in which two participants were assigned either the role of a teacher (this was always given to the true participant) or learner (the confederate). The teacher and learner were put into separate rooms. The teacher was then asked by the experimenter (who wore a lab coat) to administer electric shocks (which were actually harmless) to the learner each time he gave the wrong answer. These shocks increased every time the learner gave a wrong answer, from 15 - 450mv. Results: The results were that all participants went to 300mv and 65% were willing to go all the way to 450mv. Conclusions: The German’s are different hypothesis is false. Also people are willing to obey an authority figure even when asked to do something which is potentially harmful to another person.Please note: You do not need to know all the evaluation points but make sure you know some issues regarding validity and ethics. Evaluation of Milgram’s study (A02): Firstly there are issues regarding the internal validity (this determines whether the experimental set up measured what was intended, in this case ‘obedience’) of Milgram’s study. It has been argued that participants may have guessed the purpose of the experiment and not believed the set up. Thus the results are not valid. However Milgram carried out a questionnaire in which 75% of participants claimed they had truly 5
  • 6. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKbelieved the set up. Another issue which questions the internal validity ofMilgram’s study is the reason why people obeyed may have been becauseof the location. Yale University is a prestigious (well known andrespected) University. This in itself may have been the reason why peopleobeyed; as opposed to people obeying a legitimate authority figure. Infact it was found that obedience levels dropped dramatically whenMilgram’s study was replicated in a run down estate to 30 %. This allquestions the internally validity of Milgram’s study, that is to what extentwas Milgram measuring obedience.In terms of external validity some could argue that this study lackedecological validity as it was carried out in a lab however there is evidencewhich suggests that Milgram’s results can be applied to real life settings.For example Hofling found that 21 out of 22 nurses were willing to give apotentially fatal dosage of a specific drug to a patient as a doctor hadasked them to do so over the phone. This therefore highlights that evenin a real-life setting obedience levels are still high. Further support forhigh levels of obedience have been found by Bickman carried out a studyin which passer-bys were asked to pick up a bag or give change to a policeman or a milkman. The findings were that people were willing to do so to apolice man.In terms of population validity it has been argued that Milgram’s studylacks population validity as the sample of only consisted of maleparticipants so therefore the results cannot be applied to females andgender differences have been found (this is mentioned below). Howeverhis sample was good in that he recruited ordinary people from a varietyof different jobs.Furthermore highlight the value that Milgram’s work has provided tosocial Psychology. For instance Milgram’s work gives an insight into whypeople under the Nazi reign were willing to kill Jews when given orders todo so. It also highlights how we can all be blind to obedience often doingthings without question.Also don’t forget that Milgram had carried out different variations of hisstudy and found that when you change one key feature then theconformity rate can change. For example when instructions were givenover the phone obedience levels dropped. Or when there was adisobedient model present (this was a confederate who pretend towithdraw from the experiment just before the true participant took 6
  • 7. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKpart) obedience levels dropped to 10%. Or when the actual learning was inthe same room as the true participant conformity levels dropped this wasalso true when the true participant was asked to hold down the learnershand on the shock plates.There are also gender and cross-cultural variations in obedience levels.For example Milgram’s results cannot be generalised as his studies wereonly based on Men; and there is evidence that gender differences inobedience levels exist – females at 12% and men at 40%.There is also evidence that Milgram’s results cannot be applied to othercultures as different levels are found across the globe. For example inGermany there was an 85% obedience level. Whereas in Australia therewas a 40% obedience level.Finally don’t forget you could earn more A02 points by relating Milligram’sstudy to theories about why people obey.ETHICAL ISSUES IN MILGRAM’S STUDYThere were various ethical issues that were raised in Milgram’s study forexample he deceived P’s telling that the study was about learning andpunishment when in actual fact it was about obedience to authorityfigures. Also P’s were clearly distressed by the task and this was evidenton the video clips. Moreover P’s expressed their desire to withdraw fromthe experiment but this was made difficult by the experimenter.You will need to know what Milgram did to overcome these ethical issuesas well as being aware of whether Milgram was actually effective inovercoming the issues.Milgram’s defence - Issue of consent - Milgram asked senior psychologists whether they thought this experiment was ethically acceptable. Most predicted that only one or two in a hundred would give 450V. So no one had thought such results were likely. - Right to withdraw - Milgram pointed out that although the right to withdraw was made partially difficult it was possible as 35% of P’s had chosen to withdraw. - Psychological harm and Deception 7
  • 8. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACK - Milgram debriefed all his participants straight after the experiment and disclosed the true nature of the experiment. P’s were assured that the behaviour was common and Milgram also followed the sample up a year later and found that there were no signs of any long term psychological harm. In fact the majority of the P’s said that they were pleased that they had participated. REASONS/EXPLANATIONS OF WHY PEOPLE OBEYThere are four main ones that we covered in class, remember for eachexplanation you need to know at least 1 study which supports it and insome instances I mentioned 2 or 3.SITUATIONAL FACTORSLEGTIMATE AUTHORITY FIGURE Research suggests that we are more likely to obey… than why?LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY FIGURE (A01)One suggestion about why people obey is that we feel obligated to thosein power because of their credentials / status (what they are well knownfor) and as a result we assume they know what they are doing.Evidence for legitimate authority figure (A02)+ Milgrams studyParticipants were willing to give electric shocks to the learner participantmerely because they were asked to do so by an experimenter wearing aLab coat. This therefore supports the idea that someone may obey alegitimate authority figure even when asked to do something which mightcause harm to another.+ Bickman’s studyAlso supports this study explanation as he found that when passer byswere asked to pickup a bag or provide money for a parking meter people 8
  • 9. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKwere more likely to obey this request when asked by someone wearing aPoliceman’s uniform than a Milk man or an ordinary person.+ Hofling’s study – Nurses were willing to give a potentially fatal dosageto patients just because they were asked to do so by a doctor (for morenotes on Bickman and Hofling’s study refer back Milgram’s evaluationpoints).GRADUAL COMMITMENT (A01):Also referred to as the ‘foot in the door phenomenon’e.g. shopping for a pair of trainers you may have only wanted to spend£50 but once you get in the shop you may be willing to buy something for£55 because it is only slightly more than what you were ready to spend.This refers to instances where a person might show some sort ofcommitment to a particular task e.g. by starting something and then asthey continue it becomes harder to back down/change their mind.EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS EXPLANATION:+ Milgrams study supports this theory as P’s may have found it difficultto back away from the experiment as the shocks were increasing in smallamounts. As a result they found it harder to withdraw themselves when itcame to more serious requests.Also they had put themselves forward for the experiment, again showingcommitment to the task in question. Thus they felt committed tocompleting the task.AGENCY THEORY (A01):This theory suggests that when we obey we experience something calledan agentic shift.This is where we move from an autonomous state in which we takepersonal responsibility for our actions, to the agentic state.Autonomous state Agentic stateThis agentic state is where we see ourselves as the instrument, or‘agents’ of the authority figure’s wishes.EVIDENCE FOR THE AGENCY THEORY (A02):+ Milgram’s studyIn Milgrams study P’s at various points made it clear they wanted towithdraw but were asked to continue. 9
  • 10. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACKSome P’s asked specifically who is going to take responsibility for thisexperiment to which the experimenter would say that he would. It was atthat point that P’s were willing to continue.+ Hofling’s studyAlso Hofling’s study - nurses were merely following orders; they wereagents of the doctors.PERSONALITY FACTORSSome research also suggests that certain personalities could leadsomeone to be more obedient such as the one stated below.Authoritarian PersonalitySome people are more likely to obey than others.For example Adorno proposed that those who have an authoritarianpersonality are more obedient. This personality tends to arise fromhaving very strict parenting.INDEPENDENT BEHAVIOURAs mentioned in class this focuses on explanations and reasons as to whysome people might ‘resist conformity’ and ‘resist obedience’.RESISTING CONFORMITYIndependence  A person may choose not to conform because they are truly independent when making decisions about how they wish to behave. Therefore the person will simply behave in the way they want to. For example an independent person would only smoke if they actually wanted to not just because a group of friends are smoking.Anti-conformity  This refers to instances where someone purposely behaves in a way which opposes (goes against) the norm (what everyone else is doing). Such people would deliberately dress in a way that is different from others.Allies  In one of Asch’s variation he showed that the presence of a dissident (ally) led to a decrease in the conformity levels in true participants – this is thought to be because the presence of a dissident gave the true participant social support and made them 10
  • 11. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVISION PACK feel more confident in their own decision and more confident in rejecting the majority position.Confidence  As mentioned earlier when Asch carried out his line task experiment on Mathematicians and Engineers the conformity levels dropped and it was suggested that the reason for this was because such people would have been more confident in the actua
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