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Psychology Social Influences

By megangeverett Jan 23, 2015 8721 Words
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AS PSYCHOLOGY
UNIT 2 (PSYA2)
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SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY:
Social Influence
2014-2015
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Name: ……………………………………………………
 Unit 2 – Social Psychology – Social Influence

Alton College (Updated Sept 2013)

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THE SPECIFICATION
What you need to know:

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Social Influence
• Conformity (majority influence) and explanations of why people conform, including informational social influence and normative social influence.
• Types of conformity, including internalisation and compliance. • Obedience to authority, including Milgram’s work and explanations of why people obey.

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Social Influence In Everyday Life
• Explanations of independent behaviour, including locus of control, how people resist pressures to conform and resist pressures to obey authority.
• How social influence research helps us to understand social change; the role of minority influence in social change.

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Candidates will be expected to:
• develop knowledge and understanding of concepts, theories and studies in relation to social psychology
• develop skills of analysis, evaluation and application in relation to social psychology
• develop knowledge and understanding of research methods associated with this area of psychology
• develop knowledge and understanding of ethical issues associated with this area of psychology.

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Knowledge and understanding of research methods should be developed through:
• undertaking practical research activities involving collection, analysis and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data
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• analysis and evaluation of studies relevant to the content for each area of psychology in this unit.

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Assessment Feedback & Tracker
This should be complete after each assessment to help you improve your written work. Assessment
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GLOSSARY
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TERM
Conformity
Compliance
Internalisation

Page
No
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Normative
social influence

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Informational
social influence

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Obedience to
authority

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Agentic state

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Gradual
commitment

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Buffers

DEFINITION

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Independent
behaviour

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Prior
commitment

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Desire for
deindividuation

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Minority
influence

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Social
cyptoamnesia

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Social impact
theory

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Locus of control

Snowball effect
Process of
Social change

Exam question structure-longer questions (8-12 marks)

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You will need to be able to write answers to longer exam questions. You need two main skills to do this:

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• Description skills - the ability to clearly describe psychological theories/ research in detail to demonstrate understanding. Typically question wording will begin “describe”, “outline” or “explain”. • Evaluation skills – Your ability to discuss/argue the strengths and weaknesses of a particular piece of research or theory. Typically question wording will begin “discuss”, “evaluate” “outline and evaluate”. Remember to use appropriate language when discussing, e.g: “however”, “in contrast”

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• Language skills – the use of appropriate technical terms and not abbreviations

Hint: Remember G R A V E when evaluating!

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• G: generalisation
• R: reliability
• A: application
• Septvalidity
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• E: ethical issues

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This symbol represents key information that MUST be learnt in detail (using specification wording)

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How science works-research methods in psychology

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It is important to understand how research has been carried out in psychology- the methods psychologists have used to conduct research and develop theories.

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Look out for the RM boxes to help you identify the methods used in particular research.

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Research methods
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There will be questions on research methods in the exam!
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SOCIAL INFLUENCE

This topic looks at how people’s behaviour is influenced by others. Two of the ways other people influence us are conformity and obedience.

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CONFORMITY (MAJORITY INFLUENCE)

Conformity can be defined as ‘yielding to group pressure’ (Gross and Rolls, 2008).

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It refers to the influence that a group can have over an
individual to change his or her behaviours, attitudes or
beliefs, which is why it is also known as majority
influence.

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Activity A
Discuss, in pairs, situations where people conform and why they do.

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Kelman (1958) proposed different types of conformity:
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Compliance is when we publicly change our behaviour to be more like the majority but we do not privately change our minds about what we believe or how we would like to act.

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Internalisation is a true change of private as well as public beliefs to match those of the group because they have convinced us they are right. It leads to more permanent change, which will affect our behaviour even when we are not with the group.

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Activity B
In pairs, answer the following:

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Give an example of each of these types of conformity.

Why might compliance be temporary while internalisation is more likely to be permanent?

Do you think conformity is a good or a bad thing and why?

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WHY DO PEOPLE CONFORM?

There are two main factors involved in why people conform to the majority:

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1) Normative social influence

Humans have a need to be liked, accepted and approved of by others and a fear of being rejected. Normative social influence is where we conform to majority behaviour in order to be accepted and approved of by others. So we will change in order to fit in with the group.

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Evaluation:
This is supported by research by Perrin and Spencer (1981) who found that unemployed Black youths from a racially tense part of London were more likely to conform to a majority made up of other Black youths when the experimenter was White.

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This explanation is helpful in understanding why some children begin bullying other children, even though they are clearly uncomfortable with such behaviour. Garandeau and Cillessen (2006) found that children who had a greater need for social acceptance were the most likely to comply to pressure exerted by a bullying group to victimise another child. By conforming to the actions of the bullying group, these children believed they would be accepted by the other group members, and so could maintain their friendship regardless of how they felt in private toward bullying.

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What type of conformity does normative social influence lead to? !
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Why?
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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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2) Informational social influence

Humans have a desire to be right. If we are unsure in a situation, we often look to others for guidance as to how to behave. This is known as social comparison. This is because we often believe that others have more ‘information’ about the situation than we do. Therefore, informational social influence is where we conform to majority behaviour in order to behave in the correct way.

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Informational social influence is often particularly strong in situations that are new or ambiguous (e.g. at a new school or college) or in an emergency, where we may not have time to think calmly. It does matter who the other people are. We are much more likely to conform if we believe that the majority has more expertise or knowledge about the task. Allen (1980) found that intelligence was a major determining factor in conformity to informational social influence, with intelligent individuals being more self-confident and so less likely to conform.

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Evaluation:
However, in a study by Asch (1951), which we will look at next, highly intelligent students conformed less than moderately intelligent students, but students with the lowest intelligence conformed mid-way between the two.

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Activity C
What type of conformity does informational social influence lead to?

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Why?
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Activity D
Study the examples of behaviour on the PowerPoint slide and
decide whether they are examples of normative or informational social influence or both.

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Then complete the diagram below.

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The relationship between different kinds of social influence and different kinds of conformity

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Need for certainty

Need for acceptance/
approval of others

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Subjective uncertainty

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SOCIAL INFLUENCE

SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Power of others to
reward/punish

Need for information
to reduce uncertainty

Comparison with
others

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(Private and public
acceptance)

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Conflict between own
and others’ opinions

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(Private disagreement
but public acceptance)

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Asch (1951)
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STUDIES INVESTIGATING CONFORMITY

Aim
To investigate to what extent people
will conform to a majority opinion
even when it appears obviously
incorrect.

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Procedure
Asch carried out several studies using 50 American male college students as participants. Each was seated around a table as one of a group of 7 young men. Unknown to the participant, all of the other men they were seated with were confederates (accomplices of Asch). Each group was shown a pair of cards. One card had a target line on it. The other card had 3 lines of differing length. Participants had to say which of the 3 lines matched exactly with the target line. The correct answer was always obvious. The confederates had been briefed beforehand what specific answers to give on each trial. There were 18 trials in total. Confederates gave the correct answer on 6 of these and gave the same wrong answer on 12 (critical trials). Answers were given out loud in turn and the real participant always answered last but one. A post-experimental interview was given to participants.

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Target card

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Comparison Card

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Findings
• The average level of conformity across his studies was approximately 32%. In other words, in 32% of the critical trials the wrong answer given by the confederates was also given by the participant. • No participant conformed on every critical trial.

• 74% of participants conformed at least once.

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Interviews showed 3 levels of conformity:
▪ Some participantts who conformed said that they thought their perception must be inaccurate so yielded to the majority
▪ Most participants who conformed said that they did not want to be in the minority in case of exclusion by group
▪ Some participants who conformed said they really thought that they were giving the correct answer and so they were unaware that their perception had been influenced by majority

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Conclusions
Asch concluded that even when the correct answer is not at all ambiguous, the majority can have a huge impact on an individual. However, people may still go along with the views of others for different reasons and the majority clearly doesn’t have the same impact on every individual.

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Activity E
Using the textbook (p184) make brief notes of further research by Asch where he found:
One factor that decreased levels of conformity

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One factor that increased levels of conformity

Do you think Asch’s participants conformed due to normative or informational social influence or both? Explain your answer.

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Evaluation of Asch’s research:
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Strengths
Asch’s findings have been supported by further research e.g. Crutchfield (1953). He eliminated face-to-face contact by placing participants in booths and confirmed Asch’s findings, with levels of conformity increasing as tasks were made more difficult.

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Limitations
Discuss the following questions to give limitations of Asch’s research:

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Research methods
SAMPLING AND GENERALISATION – REMINDER (Covered in Memory Workbook)

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The target population is the group of people that the researcher wishes to draw a conclusion about. It is not possible to study the entire target population so a sample is taken. A representative sample is part of the target population and shares all the main characteristics of that population despite its smaller size.

If a sample is truly representative it can be used as a basis for generalising the results and conclusions of a study to the remainder of the target population. If the results of the research can also be generalised to other groups of people then it is said to have population validity.

Is it possible to generalise the findings and conclusions of Asch’s study to the general population? Give a reason for your answer.

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Cultural differences
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Historical differences
Smith and Bond also established that there was a negative correlation between date of study and levels of conformity found. Earlier studies such as Asch showed higher levels of conformity whereas later studies showed the opposite

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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Gender differences
Eagly and Carli 1981 carried out a nmetaanalysis of 145 studies and concluded that women were more likely to conform than men.

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Research methods

VALIDITY
A concept that is concerned with the extent to which research measures what it sets out to measure.
INTERNAL VALIDITY relates to issues within the study itself. It is concerned with the extent to which we can be sure that research findings are due to the mechanisms suggested and not to the action of some other unwanted (extraneous) variable, such as individual differences or demand characteristics.

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DEMAND CHARACTERISTICS occur when participants try to make sense of a research situation that they find themselves in and act accordingly.

EXTERNAL VALIDITY relates to issues about the application of the research to other types of participant (population validity), other settings (ecological validity) and other points in time (historical validity).

Methodological problems with the use of confederates
The confederates were not trained actors and may not have been convincing.

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If the participants realised that the confederates were pretending, how do you think this might have affected their behaviour?

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The may have gone along with the wrong answers as they assumed that this was what the researcher was looking for that than because of conformity.

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Research methods

LABORATORY STUDIES – REMINDER (Covered in Memory Workbook) Much psychological research is carried out in a controlled laboratory (lab) environment. This has the advantage that the researcher can ensure that there are no influences (variables) in the study other than those they are interested in. However, it has the disadvantage that it is not always a very realistic setting and so participants may not behave in the same way that they would in real life.

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NOTE: Lab just means a controlled environment rather than a real-life setting. It doesn’t have to look like a science lab.

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ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY
The extent to which research findings can be generalised to situations outside the research setting.

Is it possible to generalise the findings and conclusions of Asch’s study to real-life situations involving conformity?
Mori and Arai 2010 argue that Aschs study lacked ecological validity. it may not tell us anything at all about real life situations of conformity. In real life conformity generally takes place among people who are well acquainted such as family members, friends or colleagues. They claim that we rarely have to make decisions among total strangers.

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Ethical issues – See Memory Workbook for a reminder of these. !

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

Activity F
Which ethical issues are raised by Asch’s study?

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What could Asch have done to address these ethical issues?

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January 2010
Question 7

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ASSESSMENT: EXAM QUESTIONS
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In an experiment into conformity, an experimenter varied both the number of confederates (stooges) and the ambiguity of the task. The bar chart below shows the findings.

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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What does the bar chart show about conformity? (4 marks)

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Most research into conformity takes place in a laboratory. Outline one strength of conducting research into conformity in a laboratory.
(2 marks)

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June 2010
Question 7

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The following phrases refer to different types of conformity. Select the two phrases that describe internalisation. Tick two boxes only. marks)

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The deepest level of conformity.

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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The individual conforms publicly with the rest of the group but may privately disagree with them.
The beliefs of the group become part of the individual’s own belief system.
The individual goes along with the group but does not agree with them.

E The individual changes his/her beliefs, but it is a temporary change. June 2013
Total for this question: 6 marks
7 (a) Explain what is meant by internalisation (3)

!7 (b) Explain what is meant by compliance (3)
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January 2011

5 (a) Explain what is meant by informational social influence.

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5 (b) Explain what is meant by normative social influence.

Jan 2013
Question 9

(3 marks + 3 marks)

Total for this question: 8 marks

9. Discuss research into conformity.

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Jan 2012
5. Josie, Hana and Caitlyn have just started new jobs and all three are keen to do well.
Josie laughs a lot at the jokes her colleagues tell, even though she does not always find them very funny. Hana observes her colleagues closely and makes sure that she completes the work in the same way that they do, so that she does not make any mistakes. Caitlyn prefers to learn through trial and error. She believes that by trying and by making mistakes, she will really understand what she is doing. Which girl’s behaviour is being influenced by normative social influence and which girl’s

behaviour is being influenced by informational social influence? Justify both choices. (6 marks)

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY
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Activity G
Discuss the following in pairs:

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What is obedience?
compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.

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How is it different from conformity?
Conformity behaviour in accordance with socially accepted conventions.

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In what situations do people obey and why do they?

Make a note below of the definition of obedience from a textbook or from the PowerPoint and compare it with yours.
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Activity H
Summarise the differences between Conformity and Obedience using the PowerPoint.

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Conformity

Obedience

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The definition of obedience implies that an authority figure could be either benign (directing someone to act in a ‘socially acceptable’ way) or malevolent (directing someone to act in a manner that might be considered ‘immoral’).

The most famous psychological study of obedience is that of Milgram (1963). Milgram wanted to understand the reasons why so many German people obeyed Hitler in his orders to exterminate the Jews during the 1930s and 1940s. He wanted to know whether German’s were a particularly highly obedient nation or whether all of us are capable of this kind of obedience.

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KEY STUDY INVESTIGATING OBEDIENCE
Milgram (1963)

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Aim
Milgram carried out a series of studies to see how obedient people would be in a situation where obeying orders would mean breaking their moral code and hurting an innocent person.

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Procedure
The original study took place in a laboratory at Yale University. Forty American men aged 20-50 were recruited by advertisement. They were told they were taking part in a memory experiment about the effects of punishment on learning and introduced to ‘Mr Wallace’, apparently a fellow participant but actually a confederate working for Milgram. By fixing an apparently random procedure Milgram ensured that the real participant was always the teacher and the confederate the learner.

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Mr Wallace was then strapped into a chair behind a screen and connected to a shock generator. The participant tested him on his memory for word pairs. The experimenter (who wore a grey lab coat) ordered him to flick a switch to give Mr Wallace a shock whenever

he got an answer wrong or didn’t give an
answer. Unknown to the participants, there
were no real shocks. The shocks increased by
15 volts each time, up to a maximum of 450
volts. As the level of shocks increased, Mr
Wallace cried out and begged to be released.
At 300 volts he went silent apart from
occasional weak knocking on the screen.

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When participants protested at having to
continue shocking him, the experimenter
gave them a series of verbal prods, such as
‘Please continue’ or even ‘You have no
choice, you must go on’. The percentage of
participants who gave different voltages was
measured and the reactions of participants
were observed.

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Findings
Every participant gave at least 300 volts
65% of participants continued to give shocks up to the maximum 450 volts. Most participants became highly distressed, sweating and pacing around the room. Several cried, twitched or giggled nervously or dug their nails into their flesh. Three participants had uncontrollable seizures. Conclusions

People have a strong tendency to obey orders even when these go against their morals. This effect is so powerful that most people will injure or kill a stranger when ordered to by a figure in authority. However, people become very distressed when obeying orders that breach their moral codes. It appears that any person could have behaved in the same way that Germans did in the 1930s and 40s.

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Activity I
Look at the following variations of Milgram’s original study. Discuss in a small group whether you think that the level of obedience for each variation would be higher or lower than the original 65%.

Your teacher will give you the correct percentages to
complete the table afterwards.

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Variations on the original Milgram experiment.
Outline the procedure below:
Teacher and learner were sat about 46cm apart, so
teacher could see learner as well as hear.
Experimenter left the room and gave orders by
phone instead.
The teacher had to help keep Mr Wallace’s arms
down on the shock plates on the arms of the chair.
The teacher asked the questions, but a peer
(confederate) administered the shocks.
The experiment took place in a less prestigious
setting – run-down offices instead of a lab.
The teacher observed two fellow participants
(actually confederates) disobey.

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Obedience rates
(% going to 450 volts)

Evaluation of Milgram’s research:
✓ In support of Milgram’s experiments, his findings were of great practical value in helping us to understand events such as the Holocaust.

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✓ A further strength is that Milgram’s procedure was easy to replicate and generally the replications have produced similar results (high reliability).

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✗ Answer the following questions on the limitations of the research: What ethical issues are raised by Milgram’s design?

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Baumrind (1964) argued that Milgram showed insufficient respect for his participants and that there were inadequate steps taken to protect them. She also suggested that his procedures had the potential to cause longterm psychological harm and that there was the likelihood that participants would not trust psychologists or people in authority in the future.

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Activity J
Imagine that Milgram is on trial, accused of a lack of ethics. You are his defence lawyer. Use textbook (pages 196-7) to note down the
arguments you would use in his defence.

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Internal validity:

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1. Orne and Holland (1968) claimed that participants didn’t truly believe that the electric shocks were real and were just going along with their role as research participants (demand characteristics). They claimed that participants’ stress was also pretence in order to please the experimenter.

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Do you think the participants could have realised that the shocks weren’t real? Give reasons for your answer.

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External validity:

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2. How well can Milgram’s research be applied to:

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a)other settings (ecological validity)?
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b)other types of participants (population validity)?
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c)other points in time (historical validity)?
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Studies carried out in real-life settings have confirmed that people have a tendency to obey those in authority. Hofling et al (1966) tested whether nurses would obey orders from doctors even when they had reason to believe that doing so might endanger their patients.

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Hofling et al (1966) – Field study supporting the ecological validity of Milgram’s research

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Procedure
Boxes of capsules labelled ‘Astroten’ were placed in medicine cabinets of 22 hospital wards of American hospitals. The label said that the maximum safe daily dose was 10mg. The capsules actually contained sugar and were harmless. A male researcher identifying himself just as ‘Dr Smith from the psychiatric department’ called the nurse on duty in each ward and ordered her to give a particular patient 20mg of Astroten. He said he was running late but would be there to sign the paperwork shortly. If the nurses obeyed they would be breaking several hospital rules.

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Findings
95% of nurses obeyed and gave the medication. Those that said they had seen the maximum dose label said they judged it must be safe if a doctor was ordering it. These findings support Milgram. When 22 other nurses were asked whether they would exceed the safe dose of a drug on the orders of a doctor, 95% said that they wouldn’t.

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Criticism of Hofling et al’s study:
Complete the activity on p198 of the AS textbook. Write your answers here.

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Make notes on a further field study by Rank and Jacobson (1977) from p198-199 of the AS textbook.

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Activity K
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Carry out an investigation into people’s beliefs about their own and other’s behaviour in Milgram’s experiment. Ensure that you use participants who are not aware of Milgram’s findings and haven’t already answered someone else’s questionnaire.

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Give participants a description of Milgram’s procedure and a questionnaire asking them what voltage they believe they would have given, and what voltage they believe a typical person of the same gender would give. Remember, the possible voltages are from 15 to 450 in increments of 15.

Your teacher may give you a questionnaire to use or ask you to create it yourself.

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Each member of the class should gather data for 3 participants and then pool the data with the rest of the class.

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Everyone should then calculate the mean estimated maximum voltage for participants themselves and for a typical other person. Compare these with the mean maximum voltage in Milgram’s study (368.25 volts).

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EXPLANATIONS OF WHY PEOPLE OBEY

1. Gradual Commitment
This is also referred to by psychologists as the ‘foot in the door’ effect; once people get involved with trivial requests it becomes increasingly difficult to refuse more serious requests.

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Explain how gradual commitment is demonstrated in Milgram’s study: !
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Evaluation:
Lifton (1986) provided support for this explanation in his study of Nazi doctors working in Auschwitz. They were firstly required to carry out sterilisation of prisoners, but having committed to that order, were then required to carry out more and more horrific medical experiments, ending with the killing of their ‘subjects’ in the interests of science.

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2. Agency Theory
Milgram developed this theory that states that people can operate in two social states:
▪ As autonomous individuals, able to choose their actions and aware of the consequences.
▪ In an agentic state, seeing themselves as the agents of others and not responsible for their actions.

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Milgram believed that as people change from one state to the other, i.e. autonomous to agentic state, they make an ‘agentic shift’. Shifting to the agentic state allows the individual to mindlessly accept the authority of the person giving the order and to shift the responsibility on to them. In World War II the soldiers’ responses were usually ‘I was only following orders’ (Arendt 1963).

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People may stay in the agentic state for several reasons such as: • Fear of appearing rude or disrupting a social situation. • Moral strain or anxiety – When an authority figure orders us to do something we believe to be immoral we experience an unpleasant feeling. We don’t want to do the thing we believe to be immoral, but we also don’t want to challenge the authority figure and disobey.

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Milgram suggested that this agentic state serves the purpose of maintaining a stable society. He also suggested that we use psychological defence mechanisms such as denial (refusal to admit an unpleasant fact). Denial was found to be particularly common in Milgram’s studies and in the Holocaust.

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How might agency theory explain Milgram’s findings?
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Evaluation:
Mandel (1998) argued that it is inappropriate to draw a comparison between Milgram’s study and events during the Holocaust. Milgram’s participants were involved for just half an hour, whereas Holocaust perpetrators carried out their duties over several years. It seems unlikely that an agentic state could last that long. Agency theory also fails to explain the type of gradual amd irreversible conversion process that Lifton (1986) observed in Nazi doctors.

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

3. Buffers
A buffer is anything that protects the individual from having to confront the consequences of their actions. Milgram believed that buffers acted as a mechanism to help people reduce the strain of having to obey an unjust or immoral command.

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How might buffers explain Milgram’s findings?
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Evaluation:
Support for this explanation is evident in situations of mass violence. For example, in the early years of the Holocaust, Jews were killed by mobile killing squads, such as Reserve Police Battalion 101. However, the physical proximity to their victims had a disturbing psychological effect on the killers, so gas chambers were designed to separate killers physically from their victims.

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Evaluation of all three explanations:
A limitation of all of these explanations is that they don’t explain individual differences in people’s obedience. They tell us little about the people who did not obey in Milgram’s study. Research has found that there are personality factors which influence whether individuals tend to obey or not.

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Personality factors
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Authoritarian personality – Milgram found that participants who were highly authoritarian tended to display higher levels of obedience than those who were less authoritarian.
Psychopathic personality – Miale and Selzer (1975) claimed that the obedience shown by some of Milgram’s participants was a socially acceptable way of expressing their psychopathic impulses.

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Milgram claimed that these personality factors did not play a role in obedience in his study. He argued that his participants were ordinary people who had volunteered. Both personality types are also relatively uncommon. However, they may play some part in determining the likelihood of a person obeying authority.

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

June 2013

ASSESSMENT: EXAM QUESTIONS

A researcher investigated obedience. The table shows the percentages of people who obeyed a simple request from a confederate who was either smartly dressed or casually dressed.

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Request

Smartly dressed
confederate

Casually dressed
confederate

Pick up some litter

80%

61%

Post a letter lying near a
postbox

61%

40%

Carry a box up some stairs

30%

30%

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What do these results suggest about obedience? (4 marks)

January 2013
Question 6

Total for this question: 6 marks

Some psychologists criticise Milgram’s research into obedience to authority, in terms of
both methodological issues and ethical issues.

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Explain two criticisms of Milgram’s research.

June 2012
Question 5

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Total for this question: 4 marks

The following results are percentages of participants who gave the maximum shock, in variations of Milgram’s experiment into obedience to authority.

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Condition

% Participants obeying

Experimenter and two obedient
92.5%
confederates are in the same room as the
participant.
Experimenter is in the same room as the
participant.

65%

Experimenter is in a different room from
the participant.

20.5%

Experimenter and two disobedient
10%
confederates are in the same room as the
participant.

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What do these results suggest about the power of the confederates in variations of Milgram’s study?
Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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Jan 2012
Question 7
Explain one or more reasons why people obey authority.

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Potential essay questions
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(6 marks)

Outline and evaluate one or more explanations of why people obey. (12 marks) Outline and evaluate research into obedience. (12 marks)

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Outline and evaluate ethical issues in obedience research. (12 marks) !
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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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EXPLANATIONS OF INDEPENDENT BEHAVIOUR

Independent behaviour refers to resisting pressures to conform and to obey authority figures.
There are occasions when people appear to
behave independently, for example dressing and
wearing their hair differently from others.

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Is this truly independent behaviour?
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A person who displays true independence is
_________________________
__________________________________________________________

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We will look at some factors that may explain how people resist pressures to conform and resist pressures to obey.

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In the studies of conformity and obedience that we have looked at (e.g. Asch, Milgram) there were always some participants who did not conform or obey, and in Asch’s study those who did conform (74%) only did so for part of the time.

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Resisting pressures to conform:
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Activity L
Look back at Asch’s study of conformity. There were variations made to the situation that the participants were in. Make a note below of any two factors which decreased conformity (i.e. increased independent behaviour).

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

Other factors:
1. Prior commitment
If someone has publically committed themselves to an opinion, they are less likely to be influenced by the majority to change their position, than if their opinion has only been held privately.

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Make a note of the research evidence on this from the PowerPoint or from p204 of the AS textbook.
Deutsch and Gerard (1955)

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2. Desire for individuation
Although we may wish to be like others some of the time, in Western cultures, we also have a desire to maintain a sense of our own individuality and this desire can sometimes outweigh the pressure to conform.

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Make a note of the research evidence on this from the PowerPoint or from p203 of the AS textbook.
Snyder and Fromkin (1980)

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Resisting pressures to obey:
Activity M
Look back at Milgram’s study of obedience. There were variations made to the situation that the participants were in. Make a note below of any two factors which decreased obedience (i.e. increased independent behaviour).

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

The effect of Locus of control on independent behaviour

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We all tend to have either a mainly internal or mainly external locus of control (Rotter, 1966). If it is internal, this means that we tend to see ourselves as in control of events. This means that we will take responsibility for our own behaviour. If it is external, we tend to see ourselves as at the mercy of external events, such as luck or fate. We may thus feel generally in control of our lives or generally helpless depending on whether our locus of control is internal or external.

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Activity N
Go to the web address below and have a go at a mini locus of control questionnaire.

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http://www.careerdiagnostics.com/surveys/locus_control.htm
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Note that this is just a mini test and may not be totally accurate. !

In pairs, decide whether you would expect somebody with an internal or an external locus of control to be more conformist and obedient.

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In pairs, design a study to investigate the relationship between locus of control and conformity to gender roles.
You could use the online questionnaire to assess locus of control. How might you assess conformity to gender roles?

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

Holland (1967) ran a number of variations on Milgram’s procedure and found no relationship between levels of obedience and scores on Rotter’s Locus of control scale. However, Blass (1991) replicated Holland’s study and found that those with an internal locus of control were more resistant to pressures to obey, particularly when they felt they were being coerced and manipulated by the experimenter.

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Brehony and Geller (1981) assessed locus of control in 60 males and 60 females. Participants were divided into those who fit their gender stereotype and those who were androgynous (had a blend of male and female characteristics). The participants took part in an Asch-style conformity experiment. They found that those with an external locus of control were more conformist in both their responses in the experiment and their gender roles. Those with a high internal locus of control were much more likely to show independent behaviour and be more

androgynous (show a mixture of masculine and feminine behaviour).

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However, in a meta-analysis, Twenge et al. (2004) found that young people have become steadily more external in their locus of control in the past 40 years. They did not believe that they controlled their own fate, instead that it was governed by luck and more powerful others.

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Twenge believed this was due to social factors such as high unemployment and increasing divorce rates that were beyond their own control.  The researchers believe this to be bad as high external LOC is correlated with poor school achievement, depression and less self control. 

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Research has also found that people have become less conformist (more independent) in the past 40 years.

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Brehony and Geller’s findings might suggest that a high internal locus of control causes independent behaviour, but Twenge's findings suggest the opposite.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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Research methods

Activity O
In pairs, discuss the following questions:
1
What word describes the relationship that these pieces of research found between locus of control and conformity?

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2

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How might the relationships look on a scattergraph? Draw a line of best fit for each study. Use a different colour for each line and add a key.

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Locus of control
Internal
External

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3

Conformity
Is it possible to claim that locus of control has any kind of causal relationship with conformity? Explain your answer.

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

Gender differences in Locus of Control
Most research shows that males are typically more ‘internal’ than ‘external’ providing evidence of gender differences in locus of control. Eagly (1987) suggests that females may appear less independent due to the way that they have been socialised. Women are taught to be supportive and agreeable.

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However, in a study of American adults, Schultz & Schultz (2005) found no significant difference between genders. Although they did conclude that there may be gender differences for specific aspects of locus of control. For example, they found that men have a greater internal locus of control for matters relating to academic achievement.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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ASSESSMENT: EXAM QUESTIONS

January 2010
Question 8

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Three students, George, Petra and Dan, have just started in the sixth form. Dan is a confident person who thinks that his fate lies firmly in his hands. By the end of the first week, Dan has put himself forward to be nominated as the class representative. Petra has also put her name forward to be nominated. She believes it is just luck whether or not she will be selected and feels that there is not much she can do about it. George did not put his name forward because his father told him not to.

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8 (a) (i) What type of locus of control does Petra’s behaviour show? 8 (a) (ii) What type of locus of control does Dan’s behaviour show? 8 (a) (iii) George did not put his name forward as the class representative. Use your knowledge of social influence research to explain this.

(1 mark + 1 mark + 2 marks)
8 (b) Which one of the three students is most likely to resist pressures to conform? Use your knowledge of psychology to explain your choice.
(4 marks)

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June 2013
Question 8
Total for this question: 8 marks
Discuss one or more explanations of why people resist the pressure to conform.

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June 2012
Question 7
Explain what is meant by locus of control.
marks)

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

(4

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HOW RESEARCH INTO SOCIAL INFLUENCE HELPS US UNDERSTAND
SOCIAL CHANGE

Social change is a general term for change in the social behaviour or social relations of a society or community. Social change can take place quickly or slowly, and can be dramatic or a gradual shift in attitudes.

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Research into independent behaviour, conformity and obedience have helped us understand how social change takes place.

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Activity P
In small groups list as many social changes as you can think of that have taken place in the UK or abroad over the last century and identify whether they have been sudden or gradual.

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Social change occurs when a minority view challenges the majority view and is eventually accepted as the majority. Much social change begins with independent behaviour and the rebellious actions of a minority.

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The role of independent behaviour in initiating social change

Activity Q
What has research into independent behaviour told us about factors that may lead to social change?

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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Example of social change – Women’s right to
vote

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Prior to the First World War, women had no
voting rights at all in Britain. In the early
twentieth Century a small group of women,
the suffragettes, defied the majority and
demanded the right to vote. At this point all
women were subject to social pressure in the
form of majority influence and, in some
cases, direct orders to stick to their
traditional gender role and not expect equal
rights. The suffragettes defied this pressure.

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In 1918 women were given limited rights to vote and in 1928 these were extended to the level of men’s rights.

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On the basis of modern research we might expect the following factors to have been involved in the suffragettes’ behaviour:

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• They may have had an internal locus of control – they must have believed they had the power to affect events and win the right to vote, so they probably had internal locus of control.
• They may have had a desire for individuation – not wanted to be like all other women.
• They may have felt that their personal freedom was being unreasonably restricted and so rebelled against this (reactance).

However, social change will only happen if this minority who behave independently are able to have an influence over everyone else.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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The role of minority influence in social change

Both Asch and Milgram found that when they varied their procedures so that there was a minority of confederates who did not conform or obey participants were much more likely to resist the pressure to conform or obey. Although conformity and obedience are more powerful forms of social influence, studies have shown that in some situations minority influence can be exerted. This is where people are influenced by one individual or a minority group.

Differences between conformity (majority influence) and minority influence

!
Discuss how you might complete the following table.
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Majority influence

Minority influence

Type of social
influence (normative,
informational)

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Speed with which it
has its effect.

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So how does minority influence work?
1. Creating attention
Deviant minorities draw attention to the issues that may otherwise have been ignored by the majority. They stimulate thought so that overtime people may be converted to a new way of thinking and behaving (Nemeth, 2003).

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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2. Social cryptoamnesia
This new way of thinking and/or behaving can be slow and the majority may not even know where the ideas originated. The ideas become detached from their source and are represented in an individual's mind as his/her own idea.

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Activity R
Watch the clip of the film ’Twelve Angry Men’.
What is it about the man in the light suit that enables him to have a minority influence over the rest of the jury?

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Research has found that an individual or minority group is more likely to have an influence when:
• They are consistent in their opposition to the majority. • They demonstrate a degree of flexibility; do not appear dogmatic. • They appear to be acting from principle and not self-interest • They are seen to be making sacrifices to maintain their position. This is known as augmentation.

• They are similar (e.g. in age, gender, ethnicity, social class) to the people that they are trying to influence.
3. Consistency
Clark (1994) used the film ‘Twelve Angry Men’ in a study: Participants had to role-play the part of jurors. They read a summary of the court case presented in the film and they were given the jury’s discussions about key pieces of evidence. They had to decide whether the accused was innocent or guilty. However, Clark gave different groups of participants different versions of the jury’s discussions, particularly manipulating the arguments of the minority jury member and whether any of the other jurors were influenced to change their view.

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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He found that participants were most persuaded when they heard consistent persuasive arguments from the minority jury member. They were also more persuaded when they learned that another juror had defected from the majority position to go along with the minority group.

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Consistency is generally recognised as the single most important factor for a minority to be influential. There are two types of consistency: ● Intra-individual consistency –

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● Inter-individual consistency –

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Failure to show both types of consistency may undermine the credibility of the minority.

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4. Social Impact Theory
According to Latane & Wolf's social impact theory, the majority is most likely to be influenced by the minority when the following three factors are in place:
• Strength - This occurs when the minority has greater knowledge and expertise than the majority and when the message is consistent. • Immediacy - the closer you are physically, psychologically and in time to the minority, the greater effect they will have on the majority to change. If they are similar in age, gender, ethnicity, etc they will be more persausive.

• Number of people exerting a force on the majority.
(Social impact theory can also be used to explain majority influence in exactly the same way).

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5. The snowball effect
Once the minority gains power, more and more people start to go along with them and the minority begins to turn into a majority.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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Evaluation of minority influence
Minorities tend to be in a disadvantaged position, either numerically or in terms of their lack of social power. Therefore, they are unlikely to have the power to influence people on a wide scale. Also, they are seen as threatening the social order and therefore perceived as deviant by the majority.

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Kruglanski (2003) argues that many acts of terrorism are intended to bring about social change through minority influence.

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Can you think of any minority groups or individuals who have helped bring about social change who were initially branded as terrorists?

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Choose one of your examples and look back at pages 44-46 and describe how minority influence worked in this example.

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Minorities may stimulate the majority to consider social change. Because minorities advocate a new way of thinking, their views, even when they are wrong, stimulate the majority to think in even more creative ways about an issue. This may increase the likelihood of social change, even if it isn’t exactly the one desired by the minority.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

The role of conformity and obedience in causing social change

!

When a minority successfully initiates social change, there
comes a tipping point where the majority comes to
support the change.

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At this point processes of conformity come into play.
Even if people do not privately agree with the social
change, they will publicly change their views and
behaviours to fit in with the majority. For example, there are still people who do not agree with gender equality, but those individuals are subject to pressure to conform to it.

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Activity S
Using the terms compliance and normative social influence, explain how conformity is involved in bringing a social change such as gender equality?

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Obedience becomes a factor once the social change has become sufficiently accepted to be supported by law. Employers order employees to follow the new norm. In some cases the police and the courts also issue direct orders to comply with new behavioural norms. A recent example of this has followed the banning of smoking in public places in England in July 2007. According to the Department of Health, during the first month 97% of pubs and clubs complied.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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Activity T
Explain how obedience is involved in bringing the social change of gender equality?

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Summary
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Therefore social change is started with the independent behaviour of an individual or minority who are then persuasive enough to exert a minority influence on society.

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Once the minority become the majority, the social change is inevitable, as the powerful social influences of conformity and obedience take over.

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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THE PROCESS OF SOCIAL CHANGE

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!

An individual or small group RESIST and show INDEPENDENT
BEHAVIOUR. This could be due to...

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!

If this MINORITY are CONSISTENT, FLEXIBLE, SIMILAR and willing to make SACRIFICES for their beliefs then they will exert MINORITY INFLUENCE.
This is backed up by ___________________________________

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This minority will cause the majority to gradually change their view as they are convinced by the minority's arguments.
This is due to _________________ SOCIAL INFLUENCE.
All of the
processes to this
point are based
As more people convert to the minority viewpoint aon minority influence.

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_____________________________ takes place.

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Eventually the minority becomes the majority and exerts
_______________ Influence over the rest of the population. This is known as ______________.

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People conform now even if they don' agree (COMPLIANCE) because they don't want to stand out and this is due to _________________ SOCIAL INFLUENCE.

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Eventually new laws are introduced which will ensure that all people comply with the social change. This is known as _________________.

!
Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

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ASSESSMENT: EXAM QUESTIONS

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June 2013
!
Question 6
!

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Total for this question: 6 marks

A small environmental group wants to encourage people to use public transport or bicycles instead of using their cars.

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Using your knowledge of the role of minority influence in social change, what advice would you give the environmental group?

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Jan 2012
Question 9
How has social influence research helped our understanding of social change? marks)

(4

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January 2013
Question 8

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Total for this question: 6 marks

Explain how social influence research helps us to understand social change.

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January 2011
Question 8
Mike and his grandfather were having a conversation about recycling. Mike explained that he always puts empty cans and plastic bottles in one box and newspapers and cardboard in another box and that his mum takes these to be recycled once a week. His grandfather said that when he was Mike’s age, people did not recycle. Mike said that everyone in his street recycles and that they have a big box at school especially for recycling.

Using your knowledge of the psychology of social change, explain why recycling is now behaviour carried out by a majority of people in this country. (6 marks)

June 2012
Question 8
Explain how a minority can bring about social change

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Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

(4 marks)

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1.

CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING – Review of Topic
Draw a line between the terms on the left and their correct
definitions on the right.
(12 marks)

Compliance

The rebellious response we
experience when we sense that
others are trying to restrict our
freedom of choice

Internalisation

Once we get involved with trivial
requests it becomes increasingly
difficult to refuse more serious
requests

Normative social
influence

Going along with the majority and
becoming convinced that they are
correct

Informational
social influence

Where an individual feels that they
are under the control of an authority
figure and therefore not responsible
for their own actions.

Snowball effect

Going along with the majority
without believing they are correct

Reactance

Resisting the effects of group
pressure

Minority influence

Conforming to majority behaviour in
the belief that the majority probably
know best

Independence

Conforming to the majority in order
to avoid being rejected by the group

Agentic state

The extent to which we believe that
we are in control of events

Social impact
theory

A persuasive individual or small group
exerts pressure to change the
attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of
the majority

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

Gradual
commitment

The influence of the minority begins
to gather momentum

Locus of control

The likelihood that a person will
respond to social influence depends
upon strength, immediacy and
numbers.

REVISION – SOCIAL INFLUENCE

!

1

Conformity – definition

2

Types of conformity (Kelman)
Compliance
Internalisation

3

Research studies into conformity
e.g. Asch (1951), Crutchfield (1953),

4

Explanations of conformity
Normative social influence
Informational social influence

5

Differences between conformity and obedience

6

Obedience – definition

7

Research studies into obedience
e.g. Key study - Milgram (1963), Hofling et al
(1966)

8

Explanations of obedience
Legitimate authority
Agency theory
Gradual commitment

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

9

Ethical issues in social influence research e.g. informed
consent, deception, protection of participants
How to deal with them e.g. prior general consent,
presumptive consent, debriefing

Issues with research methodology in social influence
10 research e.g. ecological validity, population validity,
generalisability
11 Independent behaviour - definition
Explanations of independent behaviour
Locus of control
12
Prior commitment
Desire for individuation

!

Social change
The role of minority influence in initiating social
14
change
The role of conformity and obedience in completing
social change

Alton College (B Sh Updated Sept 2012)

Cite This Document

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