Psychology - Social Influence

  • Created by: amiinnaa
  • Created on: 04-11-19 17:26

Key Definitions

  • Obedience - type of social influence that causes a person to act in response to an order given by another person, who usually has power or authority.
  • Conformity - a change in belief or behaviour in order to fit in with the group, group pressure.
  • Deindividualization - the process of losing our personal identity when we are part of a crowd or group
  • Bystander effect - people's reluctance to help people in need, because they think others will help instead.
  • Authority figure - someone who is in a position of power
  • Compliance - following the majority even if we don't agree
  • Normative social influence - complying to fit into a group
  • Informational social influence - adopting the beliefs of others because it provides us with information when we don't know how to behave
  • Internalisation - adopting the beliefs of a group
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Bystander Intervention

  • Diffusion of resonsibility - we feel less responsible when there are more people to help. bigger crowds cause individuals to feel less responsibility.
  • Noticing the event - in a large crowd we tend to keep to ourselves to ourselves and pay attention to what is going on around us. We are therefore less likely to notice an emergency than when on our own.
  • Pluralistic ignorance - we often look to others and react based on what others are doing. We look at others to help us interpret a situation.
  • Cost of Helping -sometimes we evaluate the sitaution as having too high a cost as it risks harm to ourselves so we choose not to help. 
  • Competence - if we feel competent enough to help, this can influence whether or not we help and the type of help we give.
  • Mood -  people are often more likely to intervene if they're happy
  • Similarity - if we perceive ourselves as similar to the person in need we are more likely to identify with the victim.
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  • Internal locus of control - when we feel have personal control over our behaviour
  • External locus of control - when we feel external factors control our behaviour


  • Size of the majority - conformity increases as the majority increases 
  • Unanimity of the majority - this increases conformity because if a singe person disagrees, conformity drops by 80%
  • Task diffficulty / ambiguity - when a task is difficult, we look to others for correct answers

* based on Asch's Line study.

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  • Authoritarian personality - a person who is respectful to authority, usually right-wing in belief and rigid attitudes
  • Proximity of the victim - when Mr Wallace was in the same room as the participants, obedience was 40%
  • Proximity of the authority figure - when Mr Williams was in the same room, obedience was 65% but if instructions were given over the phone, obedience drop to 20.5%
  • Wearing a lab coat - obedience was 65%, while with ordinary clothes, it was 20%
  • Legititmacy of context - in a rundown office block, obedience was 47.5%
  • Personal responsibility - when another person doing the shocks, obedience was 90%

* based on Milgram's Study.

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Behaviour in crowds

  • Pro-social behaviour - behaviours that conform to societal rules and are helpful.
  • Anti-social behaviour - behaviours that defy social rules and are disruptive 
  • Deindivduation - fans are more likely to show anti-social behaviour and lose their personal identity amongst a crowd.
  • Conformity - people are more likely to conform to a groups norms when part of a crowd
  • Obedience - there may be an authority figure leading the behaviour
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Ways to prevent blind obedience

  • Blind obedience - when we comply to the orders of an authority figure without question
  • Social support - when we are surrounded by people who resist obedience, we are more likely to follow 
  • Familiarity of the situation - when we are in a situation we don't know, we are more likely to follow orders
  • Distance - Milgram demonstrates that the proximity of an authority figure is central to achieving obedience. the further away the authority figure, the likelihood of obedience decreases
  • Education - learning about blind obedience is key to resisting it as it gave us insight into our own behaviour.
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