Explanations of resistance to social influence, including social support and locus of control.

Description, AO1 – Explanations of Resistance to Social Influence:

Resistance to Social Influence Definition- The ways in which individuals attempt to withstand perceived attempts to threaten freedom of choice. For what reasons are able to stay independent and not conform or obey.

We will explore 2 reasons – 1. Social Support                2. Locus of Control

  1. Social Support Conformity is at its most powerful when there is ‘unanimity’ from the group (e.g. everyone is in agreement). A dissenter (i.e. someone going against the crowd) breaks this unanimity and  provides the participant with moral support – this then ‘frees’ the participant to give their own answer or disobey a given order.  Dissenters make disobedience and non-conformity an option that the individual may not have considered without them.

 

Evidence to demonstrate/support the role of social support as a way of resisting social influence (AO3):

Strengths:

(1) POINT: Research from Asch supports the idea that social support leads to more independent behaviour and resistance of social influence. EXAMPLE: For example, when Asch introduced a dissenter who gave the correct answer on his lines test, Asch saw a decrease in conformity (from 32% to 5%). EVALUATION: This is a strength because it shows that social support is important in bringing about independent behaviour and reducing social influence.

 

(2) Point: Research has demonstrated that when participants are joined by a dissenter, the level of conformity within a group falls.

Evidence: For example, Allen and Levine (1971) conducted a study similar to Asch’s study with three conditions:

C1 – the participant was given a supporter with extremely poor vision (evident from the glasses that he wore with thick lenses),

C2 – the participant was given a supporter with normal vision

C3 – the participant wasn’t given a supporter

Allen and Levine found that in conditions one and two there was a significant drop in the level of conformity compared to condition three where there was no support for the lone participant. Evaluation: This is a strength because the research from Allen and Levine supports the idea that social support (even unreliable dissenters) can decrease the level of conformity and lead to more independent behaviour.

 

(3) POINT: Research from Milgram supports the idea that social support leads to more independent behaviour and resistance of social influence. EXAMPLE: For example, when Milgram introduced a 2 dissenters who refused to obey the authority figure, one dissenter refused to obey passed 150 volts, the second refused to obey at 210 volts, this lead 9 out of 10 participants to refuse to obey to shock the learner at 450 volts. EVALUATION: This is a strength because it shows that social support is important in bringing about independent behaviour and reducing social influence.

 

Description, AO1 – Explanations of Resistance to Social Influence:

  1. Locus of Control – Rotter (1966) This refers to a person’s perception of personal control over their own behaviour. It is measured along a dimension of ‘internal’ (where people take responsibility for control over their behaviour) to ‘external’ (where people believe their behaviour is controlled by luck or external influences).

(a) Internal Locus of Control:

A person believes they can affect the outcomes of situations

  • Take personal responsibility for their actions
  • Confident
  • No need for external approval
  • Likely resist social influence

 

(b) External Locus of Control:

A person believes things turn out a certain way regardless of their actions

  • Do not take responsibility for their own actions
  • Can lack confidence
  • Seek approval from others
  • Not likely to resist social influence

 

Evaluation, AO3:

Strengths:

Evidence to demonstrate/support the role of locus of  control as a way of resisting social influence (conformity)

(1) Point: Research has demonstrated the influence of locus of control in resisting social influence. Evidence: Shute (1975) exposed undergraduates to peers who expressed either conservative or liberal attitudes to drug taking and found that undergraduates with an internal LoC conformed less to expressing pro-drug attitudes. This means that people with internal LoC were less influenced by the liberal peer views. Evaluation: This is a strength because the research supports the idea that having an internal LoC increases resistance to conformity and leads to more independent behaviour as Rotter’s theory suggests.

 

(2) Point: Further research offers support for the assumption that individuals with internal locus of control are more likely to resist social influence. Evidence: Atgis (1998) carried out a meta-analysis of studies looking at the relationship between locus of control and conformity. He found a positive correlation (of 0.37) between external locus of control and persuasion. Evaluation: This is positive as it shows that externals are more easily persuaded and so it can be implied that internals are likely to be less persuaded and therefore show higher rates of resistance to social influence.

 

Evidence to demonstrate/support the role of locus of control as a way of resisting social influence (obedience):

 

(1) Point: Further research has supported the fact that personality plays an important role in resisting obedience to authority. Evidence: Elms and Milgram (1974) set out to investigate the background of disobedient participants by following up and interviewing a sub-sample of those involved in Milgram’s experiments. Milgram found that disobedient participants had a high internal locus of control. Evaluation: This is a strength as the research supports the idea that a high level of self-esteem and a high rating if internal control can lead to more resisting obedience and that locus of control is an important factor in an individual’s ability to resist social influence.

 

(2) Point: Further research has supported the fact that personality plays an important role in resisting obedience to authority. Evidence: Schurz (1985) found no relationship between LoC and obedience among Austrian participants who gave the highest level of what they believed to be painful, skin-damaging bursts of ultrasound to a learner. Evaluation: This is a weakness because it demonstrates that there may not be a link between internal LoC and resisting social influence. However, those with internal LoC tended to take more personal responsibility for their actions than externals – this suggests that a sense of personal control (an internal LoC characteristic) may be related to resistance to social influence.

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