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  1. Social Psychology
    Mere Presence of Others
    Task 1 A
    Scenarios ;( use something from Media or others experience and link each scenarios to the explanation Task 1 B, following as Based on the experiments of Name the scientist, years of the experiments, Name of Theory, now directly explain the reasons of your own scenarios. (Social Facilitation, Social Inhibition, Social Loafing, Pluralistic Ignorance, Responsibility)

    1.Social Facilitation: e.g; When I asked my children to help with spring-cleaning, they perform better and well when all worked together at the same time.

    2. Social Inhibition:

    3. Social Loafing:

    4. Pluralistic Ignorance:

    5. Diffusion of Responsibility:

    Task 1 B

    1.Social Facilitation: Based on the experiments of Name the scientist,e.g; (Triplett 1898) years of the experiments, Name of the experiment, Name of Theory, now directly explain the reasons of the scenario you wrote in Task 1. A e.g; When I asked my children to help with spring-cleaning, they perform better and well when all worked together at the same time.( link each scenarios on Task 1 A to each Task 1 B explanations of each scientist theory including the experiments you have chosen.

    2. Social Inhibition

    3. Social Loafing

    4. Pluralistic ignorance

    5. Diffusion of Responsibility

    Triplet 1898, (Social Facilitation)
    Winding thread on reel
    Zajonc 1965 – Drive theory, (Social Inhibition) Cockroaches experiment
    Latane et al 1979, (Social Loafing) Shouting in a group experiment
    Latane and Darley 1968, (Pluralistic Ignorance) Smoke in room experiment
    Latane and darley 1968, (Diffusion of Responsibility. Simulated heart attack experiment.
    MERE PRESENCE OF OTHERS –Social Facilitation The presence of others improves the performance of individuals (speeds up)
    Social Inhibition: The presence of others enhances easy tasks but makes performance on difficult tasks worse
    Social Loafing: The more people we believe are present the less effort any one individual contributes to a group task
    Pluralistic ignorance: The tendency not to intervene in an emergency situation because others’ inaction causes us to assume the situation is not an emergency
    Diffusion of Responsibility; The tendency not to intervene in an emergency situation because we assume someone else will respond to an emergency
    TASK 2: This task is designed to test your understanding of criteria 2.1 (explain two main psychological approaches to obedience to authority) and 3.1 (explain two main psychological approaches to conformity). You should write an ESSAY entitled:
    “Why do the majority of people tend to conform and be obedient?”
    Discuss with reference to KEY STUDIES and use your OWN EXAMPLES to illustrate TWO possible reasons why people are likely to conform, and TWO possible reasons why people may be obedient. (1400 ±10%)
    Aim of essay: Imagine that your friend (who is interested but has not studied this topic) has told you that they don’t understand WHY people conform and are obedient. This essay is your response, showing how we are all affected by other people. The main focus of your essay is the REASONS WHY people may conform or be obedient. You must use the conventions of essay writing as follows:
    Title: “Why do the majority of people tend to conform and be obedient?”
    Introduction: Outline the topics you will be discussing in the order they will be in the main body of your essay. You may also include definitions of Conformity and Obedience. You may also consider why these topics could be important in the real world. No more than two paragraphs
    Main Body: The main body is the main part of your essay and should be clearly divided into a number of topics, each of which should be introduced and follow the order you discussed in your Introduction. You also need to relate each piece of evidence to the essay title. Discuss TWO psychological explanations for conformity and TWO psychological explanations for obedience as to WHY people may conform or obey based on the key studies carried out by e.g. Asch, Zimbardo and Milgram, (e.g. “normative conformity”, “identification”, “agentic state” and “gradual commitment”) as appropriate. When referring to psychological experiments and do include the key findings (remember to include figures where appropriate) as the “evidence” that leads to the explanations of people’s behaviour. Also, include your own examples to illustrate the psychological explanations discussed, to demonstrate your understanding of the psychological concepts.

    Conclusion: this should be a summary of your main points, which answers the question set. This should be one paragraph. This is not the place for your personal opinions nor should you include any new information here. The marker should be able to read your Introduction (the topics you are going to be talking about) and your conclusion (the main points of how you have answered the question set in the essay title) and know what your essay is about.
    Task 2 Social Psychology
    Key Researcher and Experiment
    Conformity (Ash 1951 Perceptual-lines experiment
    Obedience (Zimbarbo 1973) Stanford prison simulation
    Obedience (Milgram 1963, 1964&1974) Electric shock experiment
    The effects of Social pressure & norms on an individual’s behaviour
    The views of the majority affect an individual’s judgment of a situation (not knowledge).
    OBEDIENCE Reponse to being in authority and conformity to Social roles affects an individual’s behaviour
    Situational explanation for behaviour
    We are socialized to obey those we perceive to be in authority
    Agentic theory when we act as an agent for someone in authority we find it easy to deny responsibility for our own actions
    OBEDIENCE Unwillingness to question those in authority.

    Distinction Grade
    TASK 1 (Criteria 1.1 and Criteria 2.1)
    Task 1 a: You will show excellent use of relevant theories in explaining relevant scenarios. The scenarios will show some independence of thought in drawing on “recent events or your direct experience”, rather than those examples discussed in class” demonstrating an excellent grasp of the relevant knowledge base.

    TASK 2. (Criteria 2.1 & 3.1)
    You must demonstrate an excellent understanding of two psychological explanations given for why people both conform and are obedient. You will make excellent use of relevant experiments. You will be expected to use excellent levels of analysis with regards to your examples by relating them to the relevant explanations and experiments. You will also be expected to include relevant “real life” examples of behaviour which can be explained by the relevant theories. The examples will show independence of thought in drawing on “recent events or your direct experience”, rather than those examples discussed “in class”. You will be expected to analyse your examples by relating them to the relevant experiments and explanations as to “why” most people tend to conform or be obedient. You will need to present a consistently logical and fluent essay conforming to conventions.

    TASKS 1 and 2. Your use of English should have few minor errors, and your writing should be consistently fluent so that your meaning is clear. You should use key psychological terms appropriately in such a way that you also clearly explain their meaning. You will be expected to use the Harvard system of referencing accurately and you will be expected to meet all the expectations laid out in the “guidance”, including word limits +/- 10%. Total Words count limits is 2310( 10% including) Task 1 A Total words count, 200 plus 10%( Each scenario should not exceed words count 40 plus 10%. Task 1 B words count 500 plus 10%.
    Task 2 Words count 1400 plus 10%.
    For more instructions, follow the assignment brief, I have uploaded the Social Influence, Conformity and Obedience assignment brief into the Additional Materials. include Harvard references.




Subject Psychology Pages 10 Style APA







Task One A: Scenarios

Social facilitation

When watching a movie with my brother, I find that I understand the movie so well. I can easily follow the storyline of the movie and remember most if the characters with heir stage names. However, whenever I watch movies alone, I can barely understand it or remember the actors.

Social inhibition

When I was learning to drive, when I was with a friend in the car, I was confident and did all the right things. However, when my father rode along to watch, the quality of my driving deteriorated significantly making him doubt my ability to drive

Social Loafing:

When solving puzzles together as a family, my sister who is good at solving puzzles always makes the least contribution to the game. However, when she is playing alone she works hard and ensures she solves all the puzzles correctly within a short time.

Pluralistic Ignorance

In school during group work, we presented a wrong solution in front of the class. During the discussion, I was convinced the answer was wrong but kept quiet about it since most members looked like they agreed with the answer. I later realized they also thought it was wrong.

Diffusion of Responsibility

When walking alone, I always pick papers from the pavement and throw them into the dustbin. However, when we are in a group, I often find myself overlooking the paper thinking one of the members has already seen it and is going to pick it up.

Task One B: Explanation

Social facilitation

Based on the experiments of Norman Triplett in 1898, the winding thread on reel experiment explains social facilitation theory.  During the experiment, Triplett established that when two children worked together each winding thread on a real, they worked faster than when each them is made to do it alone.  The same happens whenever I watch movies with my brother.  This increase in performance stems from the co-action effect in which the presence of a second party doing the same action significantly increases one’s level of performance. My brother introduced the coaction effect increasing my ability to understand the movie.

Social inhibition

Based on the experiments of Robert Zajonc in 1965, the Cockroaches experiment explains social inhibition theory. Cockroaches that were given the easy maze would finish much faster in the presence of an audience. However, when they had the audience, but the maze was made difficult, they would take a lot of time.  The simple tasks were finished faster because they required high arousal and vice versa. In the driving test, carrying a friend is easy and generates high arousal making me an expert. However, carrying my dad generates the opposite effect; leading to reduced quality of driving.

Social Loafing

Based on the experiments of Latane et al. 1979, shouting in a group experiment explains social lofting theory, in this experiment. Individuals made more noise when they were shouting alone than when they were shouting in a group.  The study concluded the individuals put less effort into tasks done in a group as compared to those tasks they accomplish on their own. My sister exhibited this phenomenon, when we played as a family her contribution was so low. However, when she played alone, she gave the game her best effort and excelled at it.

Pluralistic Ignorance

Based on the experiments of Latane and Darley 1968, the smoke in the room experiment explains pluralistic ignorance, participants in a group placed in a room slowly filling up with smoke failed to report the smoke because they think they are wrong since other members of the group are nor raisings any concern about the smoke.  The same situation happened to our group work. Each member individually thought the work was wrong but failed to raise any objection because no one raised it in the group. So individually all the group members assumed they were the ones who were wrong.

Diffusion of Responsibility

Based on the experiments of Latane and Darley 1968, the Simulated heart attack experiment explains diffusion of responsibility. In this experiment, participants in a group heard a person falling and making sounds like a heart attack but their response rate was low as compared to when they individually take the test. This experiment explains my situation when walking alone; I feel I am the one who has seen the litter on the pavement. However, in a group, each person thinks the other person is going to pick it up resulting in the paper remaining on the pavement.

Task 2

Why do the majority of people tend to conform and be obedient?

Societies we live in have the ability to influence our behavior. We often change the way we think and act as a direct consequence of the interaction with a person or a group of people in our immediate environment.  Social influence can either be intentional or unintentional (Tedeschi2017, p.11). Social influence plays a vital role in conformity and obedience. According to Burger (2018, p.241), conformity refers to the tendency of individuals in the society to adopt similar attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of other members of their immediate society in which they are trying to fit in.  We conform because of our concern about what other people think about us. This desire to fit in is often demonstrated using Solomon Asch perceptual lines experiment. Secondly, we also conform due to lack of information on how one is supposed to behave or act in a certain environment.  On the other hand, obedience refers to behavior that is influenced by a person in authority; for instance, acting in a certain way to obey orders issued by a figure in authority. Experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram and Zimbardo vividly described the effect obedience has on a person’s behavior.


Human beings have an innate habit to mimic and imitate what other people do in their immediate environment.  Most people often without intending mimic the actions of others in society. The actions imitated can be subtle ones such as gestures to more serious ones such as decisions we make.  According to Tedeschi (2017, p.11), though shocking, this behavior is vital for human interaction since it smoothens all our societal interactions. However apart from the inborn tendency to imitate others in society, we also do it for two major reasons. First, is the influence other people have on us. This influence called the normative influence makes us make decisions to be in line with what the others have done. It is driven by the desire to fit in and not fall out of place.  This behavior is motivated by the desire to avoid receiving criticisms for being different. Additionally, the behavior gives a feeling of camaraderie for the person.

To determine the ability of normative influence to impact someone’s behavior, Solomon Asch in 1956 conducted perceptual lines experiment, in this experiment, the researcher standing at a distance showed the participants two flash cards one on the right and the other on the left hand. The participants were required to name a line on the right card that had the same length as the one of the left card. In the room, there were other six people who said their answers aloud for the student to hear before the student gave out his answer. In the first three flashcards, the group shouted the correct answer and the student also corroborated the answer. However, in the fourth card, the group chose a wrong answer and surpassingly, the student also gave the same answer.  This repeated itself several times. In fact, two-thirds of the participants were influenced and gave out wrong responses highlighting the power of normative influence on a person’s behavior.  The students did not want to be the odd one out in the room. Therefore, despite their eyes telling them one thing, they heard a different answer from the group and decided to go with it.  I have also on several occasions been a victim of normative influence. This mostly happens during group work. After most of the group members have agreed on something, I conform and adopt the decision even though I know it is wrong. 

Secondly, individuals also conform due to descriptive norm.  This mostly happens when we are in new situations where we have limited information of what the society expects from us. in such situations we imitate the behavior of the next available person we can see. However, finding the right information to mimic can often be a problem using this form of conformity. Binge drinking in school is a direct result of descriptive conformity (Tedeschi2017, p.13). Since they are no set guidelines on the level of drinking, students, therefore, emulate any person’s level of drinking assuming it is the expected level for a college student resulting in an excessive drinking problem. Personally, descriptive norm affects my behavior whenever I visit new environments. One time, I visited a Chinese restaurant and did not know their food etiquette. I resorted to imitating a Chinese man sited across the table only to realize he was also doing it the wrong way after I saw people staring at me. I conformed because I lacked information about the environment.


 Conforming to the behavior observed in the environment is a voluntary process. On the other hand, obedience gives a person no option but to behave in a certain way. An influential figure issues the instructions, and the subordinates are left with little choice but to obey and execute the instruction. For most parts, obedience is a good thing in the society, and people are trained from a young age to be respectful and obedient especially to people in authority. However, it also has a dark side to it (Haslam and Reicher 2017.p.60). After several years of being required to be obedient, many people have in the past broken the law and conducted atrocities in the name of obeying instructions given by a superior person.

The electric shock experiment conducted by Milgram in 1963, 1964 and 1974 highlighted how human beings are socialized to obey instructions. In this experiment, three participants believing to be taking part in learning and memory experiment had one participant, a teacher who administered an electric shock to another participant, a student, at any time the student gave a wrong answer. The buttons for the shock varied in intensity from low to dangerous.  It was surprising how the teacher continued to administer the shock increasing the level each time the student gave a wrong response (Russell 2018, p.36).  This happened despite the obvious danger of electric shock to one’s life. This experiment proved the dark side of obedience; human beings obey instructions as long as they have been issued by a senior person without questioning even if the instructions harm other people. In the experiment, 65% of normal family men continued administering the shock to the highest level. This experiment explained the killing of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.  Good family men simply obeying instructions executed the worst massacre the world has ever seen.

Personally, I have also been a victim of obedience in society.  As a child, my parent would delegate the task of disciplining my younger siblings. Wherever they made mistakes, I would be instructed to discipline them. This involved administering pain through acts such as canning the child.  I administered the punishment not because I liked hitting my siblings but because I was following the instructions of an adult who was a figure of authority in my life. Blind obedience is, therefore, a vice in the society.

Zimbardo’s 1973 Stanford prison simulation also corroborated the results attained by Milgram. However, his study dehumanized the subjects to determine the effects of brainwashing in obedience (Haslam, Reicher and Birney2016, p.7).  Subjects that were dehumanized received twice the level of shocks as compared to the other subjects who were individualized in the study. This study introduced another variable to obedience.  Those participants were brainwashed about the subjects they were administering the shocks to. This increased their intensity of administering the shocks. This adds another perspective to the Holocaust. The Germans were brainwashed about the Jews. This, therefore, affected their perception about Jews. The propaganda they were feed dehumanized Jews increasing their level of hate and therefore resulted in the excess killing.  Obedience alone could not have resulted in the scale of death witnessed. However, since it was coupled with brainwashing, the soldiers did not only think they were following orders, they also thought they were helping the society. 

In conclusion, conformity and obedience play an integral role in highlighting the social effect on our behavior in society.  Conformity is voluntary and comes from the desire to fit in and receiving compliments.  On the other hand, obedience is not optional and is fuelled by years of societal socialization about the benefits of obeying those in authority. Even though both conformity and obedience affects a person’s behavior, obedience has adverse effects on the behavior of a person.



Burger, J.M., 2018. Conformity and Obedience. General Psychology FA18, p.241.

Haslam, S.A. and Reicher, S.D., 2017. 50 years of “obedience to authority”: From blind conformity to engaged followership. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 13, pp.59-78.

Haslam, S.A., Reicher, S.D. and Birney, M.E., 2016. Questioning authority: new perspectives on ‘obedience ‘research and its implications for intergroup relations. Current Opinion in Psychology, 11, pp.6-9.

Russell, N., 2018. The Origins and Evolution of Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiments. In Understanding Willing Participants, Volume 1 (pp. 37-54). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Tedeschi, J.T., 2017. The social influence processes. Routledge.


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