Social Influence And Group Processes – CBSE Notes for Class 12 Psychology


Social Influence And Group Processes –  CBSE Notes for Class 12 Psychology

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Group: Organised system of two or more people who interact and are interdependent, have common motives, have a set of role relationships among members and have norms that regulate the behaviour of its members.
1. Collection of people with common goals and motives.
2. Two or more people: perceive themselves as belonging to the group—each group is unique.
3. Members are interdependent.
4. Members interact with each other directly or indirectly.
5. Members satisfy needs through joint association—influence each other.
6. Set of norms and roles—specific functions for each member, adhere to norms on how one must behave, expected behaviour, etc.
We are simultaneously members of different groups; different groups satisfy different needs but could create pressures due to competing demands and expectations.
1. Security: Groups reduce insecurity
• being with people—sense of comfort/protection.
• people feel stronger—less vulnerable to threats.
2. Status: Recognised group gives feeling of power and importance.
3. Self-esteem: Feeling of self-worth and positive social identity.
• member of prestigious group enhances* self-concept.
4. Goal Achievement: Group helps to attain some goals which can’t be attained alone (power in the majority).
5. Provides Knowledge and Information: Broadens views, helps supplement information.
6. Satisfaction of Psychological and Social Needs: Like sense of belongingness—giving and receiving attention, love and power.
Group Formation:
Some form of contact and interaction between people is needed.
1. Proximity: Closeness and repeated interactions with the same people (get to know their interests, attitudes and background).
2. Similarity: People prefer consistency—consistent relationship (reinforces and validates opinions and values; feel we’re right).
3. Common Motives and Goals: Groups facilitate goal attainment.
Stages of group formation (Tuck man):
1. Forming: Member’s first meet—there is uncertainty about group and goal and how it will be achieved. they try to get to know each other—there is excitement and apprehension.
2. Storming: Intra-group conflict—about how the goal is to be achieved, who’s the leader and who will perform what task (hierarchy of leadership and how to achieve goal is developed.
3. Norming: Develop norms related to group behaviour (development of a positive group identity).
4. Performing: Structure of the group has evolved and is accepted (towards goal achievement); at this is the last stage of group development.
5. Adjourning: Once the function is over the group may be disbanded.
— Groups do not always proceed in a systematic manner.
— Stages could even take place simultaneously.
— Groups can go back and forth between stages or skip a few stages.
Group Structure: Over time there are regularities in distribution of tasks, responsibilities assigned to members and status of members.
1. Roles: Socially defined expectation that individuals in given situations are expected to fulfil, i.e., typical behaviour that depicts a person in a given social context.
(i) Role Expectations: Behaviour expected of someone in a particular role.
2. Norms (unspoken rules): Expected standards of behaviour and beliefs established, agreed upon and enforced by group members.
3. Status: Relative social position given to group members by others.
(i) Ascribed (given due to one’s seniority) or achieved (because of expertise or hard work).
(ii) Members of a group—enjoy status, and want to be members of prestigious groups.
(iii) Within groups, different members have different prestige and status.
4. Cohesiveness: Togetherness, binding or mutual attraction among members
(i) More Cohesiveness: Members start thinking, feeling and acting as a social unit (no isolated individuals); there is an increased desire to remain in group (we feeling- sense of belongingness).
(iii) Extreme cohesiveness leads to group think and is negative.
Types of Groups:
Primary Group:
Pre-existing formation that are usually given to a person. People usually remain a part of it through their lifetime.
Includes face-to-face interaction and close physical proximity. Member share warm, emotional bonds.
Central to person’s functioning; major role in developing values and ideals.
Boundaries are less permeable—can’t choose membership, join or leave easily.
Example: Family, religion, caste.
Secondary Group:
Groups which individuals join by choice.
Relationships among members are more impersonal, indirect and less frequent.
These may or may not be short-lived.
It is easy to leave and join another group.
Example: Political party.
Formal Group:
Functions, based to be performed are explicitly stated.
Formation based on specific rules or laws and members have defined roles. Set of norms help establish order.
Example: Office, university.
Informal Group:
Roles of each member not so definite and specified. Close relationship among members exist.
Formation not based on rules and laws.
Example: peer group.
In group:
One’s own group—‘we’ (e.g., India).
Members in the group—similar, viewed favourably, have desired traits.
Out group:
Another group—‘they’ (e.g., Pakistan).
Member of out-group—viewed
differently, negatively in comparison to in group.
Influence of Group on Individual Behaviour:
1. Social Loafing: This is the reduction in individual effort when working on a collective task.
— Individual performing an activity with the others as part of a larger group.
— Individuals work less hard in a group than alone.
— Don’t know much effort each one is putting in.
— Presence of others leads to arousal; motivates individuals to enhance their performance (only when a person’s efforts are individually evaluated).
Causes of Social Loafing:
(a) Members feel less responsible for the overall task and thus exert less effort.
(b) Performance of the group isn’t compared with other groups.
(c) Motivation decreases as contributions are not individually evaluated.
(d) No/improper co-ordination between members.
(e) Belonging to the same group is not important for members (it is only aggregate of individuals).
Can be reduced by:
(a) Making effort of each person identifiable.
(b) Increasing pressure to work hard—make members committed, motivated.
(c) Increase apparent importance and value of task.
(d) Make them feel their Individual contribution is important.
(e) Strengthen group cohesiveness—increase motivation for successful group outcome.
2. Group Polarisation: Groups are likely to take more extreme decisions than individuals would take alone
• strengthening of group’s initial position because of groups interaction.
• dangerous repercussions—groups may take extreme position (very weak to very strong decisions).
Causes of group Polarization:
(a) In the company of like-minded people, you’re likely to hear newer arguments favouring your view-points.
(b) Bandwagon effect—when you find others sharing your view-point, you feel your view is validated by the public.
(c) When people have similar views as you, you’re likely to perceive them as in-group (start identifying with them, show conformity—views become strengthened).
Social Influences: Those processes whereby our attitudes and behaviours are influences by the real or imagined presence of other people.
Identification: Influence process based on agreement or identity seeking. Internalisation: Process based on information seeking.
1. Conformity:
— Most indirect form of social influence.
— Tendency to follow norms is natural and spontaneous (norms are unwritten informal rules: provide information about what is expected from people in a situation; allows the group of function smoothly).
— People feel uncomfortable if they’re ‘different’ (could lead to dislike/disapproval or some form of social punishment) (deviants/non-conformists).
— Following norms is the easiest way to avoid disapproval.
— Norms reflect the views and beliefs of the majority (feel majority is likely to be right). — Experiments on conformity by Sherif (Autokinetic effect) and Asch (Asch technique)
(condition determining the extent of conformity—degrees of conformity determined by situation-specific factors).
Determinants of Conformity:
(a) Size of Group: More conformity when group is small.
(b) Size of Minority: Larger the minority, lesser the conformity (more is the deviance).
(c) Nature of the Task: more conformity when there are objective questions.
(d) Public/Private Expression of Behaviour: More conformity in public and less conformity in private expression.
(e) Personality: Conforming personality—tendency to change behaviour according to what others do (others are independent, don’t look for norms to decide how to behave in a situation—highly intelligent people are confident).
Conformity occurs because of:
(a) Informational influence (that results from accepting evidence, not reality. Rational conformity- learn through observing other’s actions)
(b) Normative influence (based on desire to be accepted and admired—conform because deviation could lead to rejection/non-acceptance. Majority determines final decision but at times ifTniriority is firm and uncompromising it doubts on the majority’s minds).
2. Compliance: Extreme condition forcing the person to accept influence (of a significant other) and behave in a particular way in response to a request from another person/group even in the absence of a norm. Why do we comply—easier way out of the situation more polite.
Factors used to make others comply:
(i) ‘Foot in the Door’ Technique: Being by making small request that one can’t refuse move on to bigger ones-once you comply with the first request, feel uncomfortable refusing the second one.
(ii) ‘Deadline* Technique: A ‘last date’ is announced until an offer is available—make people hurry so they can’t miss the opportunity. More (the one actually required), usually granted.
(iii) ‘Door in the Face Technique: Being with a large request and when this is refused move onto making a smaller request (the one actually required), usually granted.
3. Obedience
— Response to a person in authority.
— Direct and explicit form of social influence (someone has requested and you comply).
— If disobeyed, one is likely to get punished from people in authority; thus, one to obey as people in authority have effective means for enforcing order.
— Milgram’s experiment: Even ordinary people are willing to harm innocent people if ordered by someone in authority.
Why do people obey (after knowing the effects)?
(a) Feel they are not responsible for their own action and that they are simply carrying out orders from an authority.
(b) Authority is powerful and possesses symbol of status, and thus difficult to resist.
(c) Authority increases commands from lesser to greater levels (initial obedience binds followers for commitment and once you obey small orders you start obeying bigger orders as you feel committed to the authority).
(d) Events move at such a fast speed that there is no time to think, one just obeys orders, e.g., riots
Co-operation and Competition:
When groups work together to achieve shared goals.
No individual rewards. Only group rewards exist.
Co-operative goals—each attains his/ her goal only if other members attain their.
There is respect for one another’s ideas and members are more friendly. There is more co-ordination.
When group-members try to maximize their own benefits.
They work for self-interest and individual reward.
Competitive goals—each gets his/her goal only if others don’t attain their.
Leads to conflict and disharmony. More group cohesion and solidarity within ones group.
Determinants of Co-operation and Competition:
(a) Reward Structure:
Co-operative reward structure promotes interdependence; reward possible only if all contribute.
Competitive reward structure—only one gets the award.
(b) Interpersonal Communication: Good interpersonal communication increases co-operation (facilitates interaction, discussion, convinces each other and increases learning about each other).
(c) Reciprocity: People feel obligated to return the behaviour they get (initial co¬operation leads to increased co-operation and initial competitiveness leads to competition).
Social Identity: Aspect of our self-concept which is based on our group membership (tells us about one’s position in the larger social contact and helps us located ourselves in society)
— derives from groups we are a part of.
— includes personal attributes and attributes we share with others.
— acquires certain attributes from interaction with others in society.
— identification with social groups is important for self-concept.
— provides members with a shared set of values, beliefs and goal about ourselves and others
— in-group—group with which you identify yourself (start showing favouritism towards it. Rate it above out-group and devaluate out group—basis of intergroup conflicts).
Intergroup Conflicts:
Conflict: This is process in which either an individual or a group perceives others as having opposing interest and both try to contradict each other (‘we’ and ‘they’ feeling-are strong)
— belief that ‘others’ will protect only its own interests.
— both try to exert power on one another.
— when groups are more aggressive than individuals, it leads to escalation of conflict.
— costly human price in conflicts.
(a) Lack of communication or Faulty Communication: It leads to suspicion and lack of trust.
(b) Relative Deprivation: Compare oneself to members of the other group:
— don’t have what you desire: others have it.
— not doing well in comparison to others: deprivation depression.
(c) Belief that one is better than the other: What one partly believes should be done (if it does not happen—then members accuse one another and small differences are magnified. This leads to increased conflict).
(d) Desire for Retaliation: For harm done in the past.
(e) No Respect for Others Norms: Feeling that other group does not respect norms of my group and violates them because of malevolent intent.
(f) Biased Perception: Feeling of ‘the/ and ‘we’.
(g) People are more aggressive and competitive in groups than on their own (due to competition over scarce resources).
(h) Perceived Inequity: Equity—distribution of rewards in proportion to individual’s contributions (you feel irritated and exploited if you contribute more and are rewarded less).
— Conflicts between groups leads to series of social and cognitive processes—hardens the stand of each side (ingroup polarization).
— Coalition of like-minded parties increases apprehension. .
— Misperceptions and biased interpretations increase conflicts.
Murphy—Conflicts begin in the minds of men.
Structural Level: Increase in poverty rates, inequality, limited political and social opportunity, economic and social stratification.
Group Level: Social identity, unequal power relations, resources.
Individual Level: Beliefs, biased attitudes, personality characteristics (there is progression along a continuum of violence—butterfly effect).
Consequences (Deutsch):
(a) Communication becomes poor between groups (lack of trust—breakdown in communication leads to suspicion).
(b) Groups start magnifying their differences and perceive their behaviour as fair and others as unfair.
(c) Each side tries to increase its own power and legitimacy, thus the conflict shifts from smaller to larger ones.
(d) Once conflict starts, other factors lead to escalation of conflict (in-group opinion is hardened, out-group is threatened and when other parties choose sides, the conflict is further escalated).
Conflict Resolution Strategies:
1. Introduction of Superordinate Goals: Superordinate goals reduce conflict and are mutually beneficial to both sides, thus sides work co-operatively.
2. Altering Perceptions: Through persuasion, educational and media appeal portrayal of groups differently. Also promoting empathy for others should be taught.
3. Increasing Intergroup Contact: By involving groups on neutral grounds through community projects and events they become more appreciative of each other’s stand. Contacts need to be maintained, supported over a period of time to be successful.
4. Redrawing Group Boundaries: Group boundaries create condition where boundaries are redefined; perceive themselves as belonging to a common group.
5. Negotiations: Reciprocal communication so as to reach an agreement in situation where there is a conflict.
(i) Conflict can be resolved through negotiations and third party interventions.
(ii) Groups try finding mutually acceptable solutions.
(iii) When negotiation doesn’t work then mediation (both parties reach a voluntary agreement and focus discussions on relevant issues) or arbitration (third party has the authority to give a decision after hearing both parties) by a is used.
6. Structural Solutions: Redistributing societal resources according to principles based on justice.
Principles of justice—equality (allocating equally to everyone), need (allocating on the basis of one’s need) and equity (allocating on the basis of contribution).
7. Respect for other Group’s Norms: To respect and be sensitive to the strong norms of various social and ethnic groups, especially in India where many communal riots have occurred due to insensitivity of one religious group towards another.
Group think (Irving Janis)
(i) Cohesion can lead to a tendency to make irrational and uncritical decision—group allows -its concerns for unanimity.
(ii) Appearance of consensus or unanimous agreement—each member believes that all members agree upon a particular decision, no one expresses dissenting opinion (undermine cohesion of group, makes him/her unpopular).
(iii) Exaggerated sense of its own power, ignores real world cues, out of touch with reality— occurs in socially homogenous, cohesive, isolated, do not consider alternatives, decision have high cost.
(iv) Prevention-encouraging and rewarding critical thinking and disagreement, encouraging groups to present alternative courses of action, inviting outside experts to evaluate group decision, encouraging seeking feedback from trusted others.
• Authority: The right inherent in a position (e.g., managerial) to give orders and to except the orders to be obeyed.
• Cohesiveness: All forces (factors) that cause group-members to remain in the group.
• Competition: Mutual striving between two individuals or groups for the same objective.
• Compliance: A form of social influence in which one er more persons, not holding authority, accept direct requests from one or more others.
• Conformity: A type of social influence in which individuals change their attitudes or behaviours in order to adhere to existing social norms.
• Group: Two or more persons who interact with one another, have shared goals, are interdependent, and consider themselves as members of group.
• Groupthink: A mode of thinking in which the group members desire to reach unanimous agreement overrides the wish to adopt proper, rational, decision-making procedures; an example of group polarisation.
• In-group: The social group to which an individual perceives himself or herself as belonging (‘us’). The group with which one identifies. The other groups are out-groups.
• Obedience: Confirming behaviour in reaction to the commands of others.
• Out-group: Any group of which an individual is not a member.
• Primary Group: Group in which each member is personally known to each of the other members, and in which the members, at least on occasion, meet face-to-face.
• Proximity: The principle of Gestalt psychology that stimuli close together tend to be perceived as a group.
• Roles: An important concept in social psychology which refers to the behaviour expected of an individual in accordance with the position he/she holds in a particular society.
• Social Influence: The process by which the actions of an individual or group affect the behaviours of others.
• Social Inhibition: Social restraint on conduct.
• Social Loafing: In a group, each additional individual puts in less effort, thinking that others will be putting in their effort.
• Social Support: Information from other people that one is loved and cared for, esteemed and valued, and part of a network of communication and mutual obligation.
• Status: Social rank within a group.
• Structure: The enduring form and composition of a complex system or phenomenon. Contrast with function, which is a process of a relatively brief duration, arising out of structure.


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