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Group of Friends

Social Influence

Types & explanations of conformity


Compliance: Change public, not private, shallowest level, temporary, caused by NSI

Identification: Change to be part of a group, temporary

Internalisation: Change public & private, deepest, permanent, caused by ISI

NSI: Change - need to be liked

ISI: Change - need to be right


+ Evidence NSI: Asch

+ Evidence ISI Lucas (maths)

- Individual diff - naffiliators

- Incomplete explanation - Turner Referent Informational Influence




40 USA males, false aim on learning, rigged random allocation to teacher, Mr Wallace = learner, shock machine (15-450v)

Findings: 65% obedience rate

Qualitative: "full blown seizures"


+ Hofling (nurses) 21/22 nurses obeyed in real life

- Low internal validity (Orne & Holland)

- Individual diff: 100% females & 50% males shocked a puppy

- Ethics: right to withdraw, harm

Dispositional explanation: Authoritarian personality


Adorno (1950) 2000 white middle class USA, aim to measure unconscious attitudes,

F-Scale to measure AP

Those with AP are more obedient,

conscious of hierarchy, fixed cognitive styles, traditional views

Stems from strict and harsh parenting and anger is displaced


+ Milgram & Elms (1966) - obedient ppts had high F-scale score

- Cannot explain whole populations

- Greenstein (1969) "comedy of methodological errors" due to acquiescence bias: Jackson's reverse F-scale -ve correlation

- Right wing political bias

Social change



Draw attention


Deeper processing

Augmentation principle

Snowball effect

Social cryptoamnesia

[Don't Climb Down A Steep Slope]

Conformity - Pressure of NSI

Obedience - Obey new laws


+ Nolan (2008) energy reduction with messages on doors

- Mackie (1987) disagrees: majority leads to deeper processing

- Bashir (2008) avoid acting in stereotypical ways "tree hugger"

Variables affecting conformity: Asch


Line study, 6-8, one naive ppt, unambiguous, ppt sat one from last, 36.8% conformity rate, 75% conformed at least once

Group size: 3% (1), 13% (2,) 32% (3), After 3 it plateaus.

Unanimity: Dissenter (gave the correct answer) 5%

Task difficulty: Increases with task difficulty


- Demand characteristics

- Perrin & Spencer "child of its time"

- Individual differences: women & collectivist conform more

- Ignores that the most common behaviour was not to conform

Variables affecting obedience


Baseline obedience rate 65%

Proximity: T-L in same room 40%, T-L hand on plate 30%, E-T over phone 20%

Location: 48% in rundown office, not legitimate authority

Uniform: Bickman - 76% guard, 47% milkman, 30% civilian


Bickman: confounding variables

- Is culture more important? 16% Australia, 85% Germany

- Milgram: lack of internal validity

- Real life application: uniforms

Resistance to

social influence


Social support

Helps to resist social influence

Conformity: Asch dissenter 5%, breaks pressure of NSI

Obedience: Milgram 2 disobedient peers 10%, role model

Locus of control

Internals more likely to resist

Take personal responsibility


+ Gamson (1982) - social support

+ Allen & Levine (1971) - still increases even when poor eyesight

+ Holland (1967) 37% internal, 23% external in Milgram replication

- Twenge (2004) 1960-2002 people more resistant, more external

Conformity to social roles: Zimbardo


Stanford Prison Experiment (1973)

21 male volunteers, randomly allocated to guards / prisoners, created deindividuation = glasses, uniform, smocks, numbers 

Findings: Meant to last 2 weeks, lasted 6 days, prisoners subdued, guards brutal e.g. 'the hole'

Individuals readily conform to social roles due to situational factors


+ Controls: random & testing

- Demand characteristics

- Not all guards were brutal, a third helped prisoners

- Alternative explanation: SIT

Situational explanations of obedience


Agentic State

Autonomous state

Agentic shift

Binding Factors (moral strain)

Legitimacy of authority

Heirarchical structure - we hand over control to authority as long as 

genuine (power to punish) or moral

Destructive authority


+ Blass & Scmitt - ppts said it was the experimenters fault

- 35% did not obey - dispositional?

- Demand characteristics of study

+ Real life application: Mai Lai massacre




Consistency: doing same thing

Commitment: deep involvement

Flexibility: compromise

Snowball effect: converting

Moscovici: groups of 6, 36 blue slides, consistent condition 8.42% and inconsistent 1.25%


+ Moscovici: low mundane realism

+ Martin (2003) less willing to change views in minority group

+ Flexibility - Nemeth and Brilmayer (1987): ski accident

Xie et al (2011) discovered a tipping point of 10% for snowball effect


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