Social Psychology: Power and Obedience

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What is defined as the capacity to influence others even though they resist influence?

Interpersonal power

According to French & Raven, which source of power is based on people liking and respecting you?

Referent power

In the context of power tactics, what type of tactic involves collaboration and friendliness?

Soft tactics

What technique involves asking for a small request first followed by a much larger one?


How is power negotiated in groups according to the text?

By interpersonal manoeuvrings

Which type of power involves possessing important skills and information?

Expert power

According to Keltner's Model of power, how does powerlessness affect individuals?

Triggers constrained behaviors and negative affect

What can trigger submissive actions according to the concept of interpersonal complementarity?

Dominant actions

How does Keltner's theory predict powerful individuals will behave?

They will act consistently with their personality traits

What is the result of being the only individual of a social category according to the text?

Unfair status allocations

Which reaction is NOT listed as a form of resistance to influence in the text?

Conformity and compliance

What does the text suggest as a characteristic of power according to Kelman's 3 stage model of conversion?

Transforms personality traits

Study Notes

Power and Influence

  • Power is defined as the capacity to influence others even when they resist influence.
  • Social power refers to the capacity to produce the intended effect in interpersonal contexts.

The Stanford Prison Study and Milgram's Shock Studies

  • Zimbardo's Stanford Prison study illustrates the concept of power and influence.
  • Milgram's Shock studies demonstrate how people obey authority figures readily, even when they are instructed to administer harmful shocks.

Factors Affecting Obedience

  • Occupying a lower power position than the experimenter.
  • Being in an unfamiliar situation.
  • The authority figure appears to know what is going on, leading to "trust the expert".
  • The authority figure takes full responsibility.

Applications and Replications

  • People in a subordinate role will likely obey authority figures without question unless they are specifically trained to question the authority.
  • Training people to resist high-status authority figures is necessary.

Sources of Power in Groups

  • According to French and Raven, there are six sources of power in groups:
    • Reward power: the ability to give or offer rewards.
    • Coercive power: the ability to threaten or punish people.
    • Legitimate power: the sanctioned right to influence based on position.
    • Referent power: the power to influence people because they like and respect you.
    • Expert power: having the skills and abilities necessary.
    • Informational power: access to and control of information (added later).

Power Tactics

  • Power tactics are specific methods used to achieve personal goals of influencing others.
  • Types of tactics include:
    • Hard-soft tactics: collaboration and socializing (soft) versus bullying, threats, and bribes (hard).
    • Rational-irrational tactics: reasoning, logic, and persuasion (rational) versus evasion and ingratiation (irrational).
    • Unilateral-bilateral tactics: discussion and negotiation (bilateral) versus fait accompli, demands, and disengagement (unilateral).

Techniques of Influence

  • Foot-in-the-door technique: a small request is followed by a much larger one.
  • Behavioral commitment: asking for commitment before revealing costs.
  • Brainwashing: combining a series of compliance tactics with physical threats.

Status and Group Dynamics

  • Status refers to the prestige of each group member relative to one another and is unevenly distributed.
  • Group members can claim status, but other group members must grant them status.
  • Power is negotiated through interpersonal maneuverings (politics) and the group's hierarchical structure defines who is dominant and who is submissive.
  • Status generalization: members unfairly allow irrelevant characteristics (e.g., race or ethnicity) to influence status allocations.

Keltner's Model of Power

  • Power can be psychologically transformative, leading to uninhibited approach, behaviors, positive affect, and attention to rewards.
  • Powerlessness is associated with a threatening or punishing social environment, leading to constrained behaviors, inaction, negative affect, and attention to threats.

Kelman's 3-Stage Model of Conversion

  • Compliance: reacting to power by conforming to external demands.
  • Identification: internalizing the values and beliefs of the power holder.
  • Internalization: fully embracing the values and beliefs of the power holder.

Resistance to Influence

  • Revolutionary coalitions: forming alliances to resist powerful individuals or groups.
  • Reactance: actively resisting influence and pushing against the power holder.
  • Conflict and rebellion: openly opposing and challenging the power holder.

Explore the concept of power in social psychology through examples like Zimbardo's Stanford Prison study and Milgram's Shock studies. Learn about the factors that influence why people obey authority figures readily.

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