Paper 1- Resistance to Social Influence-Explanations


Asch's (1951) groundbreaking research and Milgram's (1963) infamous experiments have left an indelible mark on our understanding of social influence, shedding light on the potent forces of conformity and obedience. However, the narrative doesn't end there. Post-Asch and Milgram, psychologists have delved into the intricacies of resistance to social influence, investigating the factors that empower individuals to defy the pressures to conform or obey.

 

The Power of Social Support

One formidable ally in the battle against conformity and obedience is social support. When individuals have someone backing their point of view, the landscape of social influence undergoes a transformative shift. This support acts as a bulwark against the fear of ridicule, empowering individuals to maintain their independence and, crucially, resist normative social influence.

Asch's (1951) variations offer a glimpse into the role of social support. In a particular iteration, a confederate was strategically instructed to consistently provide the correct answer. The outcome was striking: the rate of conformity plummeted to a mere 5%. This underscores the pivotal role that social support plays in enabling individuals to stand firm in their beliefs and resist the gravitational pull of conformity.

Milgram's (1974) variations further reinforce the sway of social support. In an experimental twist, real participants found themselves flanked by two additional confederates playing the role of teachers. These confederates, however, chose to break ranks and withdrew from the experiment prematurely. The result was a remarkable drop in the percentage of real participants proceeding to the full 450 volts, plummeting from 65% in the original experiment to a mere 10%. Here, the scaffolding of social support proved instrumental in bolstering participants' resolve to disobey authority.

 

The Role of Locus of Control

Beyond the realm of social support, individual differences in personality also contribute to the tapestry of resistance. Rotter's (1966) concept of locus of control emerges as a key player. Locus of control encapsulates the extent to which individuals believe they have control over their lives. Those with an internal locus of control attribute life events to their own behavior and maintain a sense of control, while those with an external locus of control perceive external factors as the primary shapers of their destiny.

Rotter's proposition suggests that individuals with an internal locus of control are more predisposed to resist pressures to conform or obey. Research lends credence to this idea, as illustrated by Oliner and Oliner's (1998) investigation into non-Jewish survivors of WWII. The 'rescuers,' individuals who defied orders and protected Jewish people from the Nazis, were found to have a significantly higher internal locus of control compared to those who complied with orders. While the correlation is compelling, it's essential to acknowledge the myriad factors at play during WWII that might have influenced individuals' decisions.

Spector's (1983) study further reinforces the link between locus of control and resistance, particularly in the context of conformity. Analyzing 157 students using Rotter's locus of control scale, Spector discovered that individuals with a high internal locus of control were less likely to conform, but notably so in situations driven by normative social influence. In scenarios where the desire to fit in takes precedence, individuals with an internal locus of control wield a potent shield against conformity. The distinction between normative and informational social influence underscores the nuanced interplay of locus of control in the face of social pressures.

In essence, the exploration of resistance to social influence after Asch and Milgram extends beyond a dichotomy of conformity and obedience. Social support emerges as a formidable ally, acting as a bulwark against the pressures to conform or obey. Meanwhile, individual differences, encapsulated by locus of control, add a layer of complexity, unveiling the intricate interplay between personality traits and the dynamics of social influence. As we navigate this nuanced terrain, the multifaceted nature of human behavior continues to unfold, inviting further exploration into the myriad factors shaping our responses to the ever-present currents of social influence.
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