PSYC 3430 - Test 3 Notes
Chapter 8: Power
Obedience to Authority
Bertand Russell (1938) concluded that the fundamental concept in social science is
Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.
Social power: the capacity to influence others, even when others try to resist influence.
Power can be direct or indirect, depending on norms, group, or values.
Constructive power vs. destructive power (Deutsch).
The Milgram Experiments (Obedience to Authority)
Voice-feedback condition: the learners shouts and pleas can be heard through the wall.
Proximity condition: the learner sat in the same room as the teacher, voicing the same
complaints used in the voice-feedback condition.
Touch-proximity condition: the learner sat next to the teacher and received his shock
when he put his hand on a shock plate.
Low surveillance condition: experimenter continues to give orders to the participant by
telephone, but lost the ability to monitor the subjects actions.
Ordinary-man variation: added fourth member to the group, who was given the task of
recording the shock levels used.
Authority-as-victim condition: experimenter agreed to take the role of the learner,
supposedly to convince a reluctant learner that the shocks were not harmful.
Peer administers shock condition: subjects do not have to administer the shock but the
confederate does, therefore Milgram confirmed that less people disobey when in groups.
Jerry Burger replicated Milgrams study to observe the power of the situation.
Sources of Power
Power bases: six key sources of social power in a group (French & Raven).
o Reward power: power based on ones control over the distribution of rewards
(personal and impersonal) given or offered to group members.
o Coercive power: power based on ones ability to punish or threaten others who do
not comply with requests or demands.
Bullying is a form of coercive interpersonal influence.
o Legitimate power: power based on an individuals socially sanctioned claim to a
position or role that gives the occupant the right to require and demand
compliance with his or her relatives.
o Referent power: power based on group members identification with, attraction to,
or respect for the powerholder.
Charisma: Max Weber believed that it was the ascription of extraordinary
or supernatural acumen, ability, and value to a leader by followers.
o Expert power: power that derives from subordinates assumption that the
powerholder possesses superior skills and abilities.
o Informational power: power based on the potential use of informational resources,
including rational argument, persuasion, or factual data.
Thomas Blass confirmed the power of the experimenter in the Milgram study and
warned of negative consequences based on the coercive power explanation. Power tactics: specific strategies used to influence others, usually to gain a particular
objective or advantage. Such strategies include soft and hard, rational and nonrational,
and unilateral and bilateral.
Kramer believes that certain people consistently rely on coercion to influence others.
Raven drew a distinction between impersonal and personal rewards.
Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): Dispositional tendency to accept and even prefer
circumstances that sustain social inequalities, combined with a general preference for
hierarchical social structures. Communal orientation vs. exchange orientation.
Interpersonal Complementarity Hypothesis: Predicted tendency for certain behaviors to
evoke behaviors from others that are congruous with the initial behavior (Carson).
Zimbardos Stanford Prison Study
Zimbardo believed that the participants in a given power situation would become too
immersed in their roles, including himself as a prison warden.
o Lucifer Effect: The transformation of benign individuals into morally corrupted
ones by powerful, but malevolent, social situations.
o Agentic State: psychological state that occurs when subordinates in an organized
status hierarchy experience such a marked reduction in autonomy that they are
unable to resist authorities orders.
Foot-in-the-door technique (or behavioral commitment): a method of influence in which
the influencer first makes a very small request that the target will probably agree to. Once
the target agrees to the minor request, there is a higher likeliness that a more important or
larger request by the influencer will be agreed to.
Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE): tendency to overestimate the casual influence of
dispositional factors and underemphasize the casual influence of situational factors.
People often blame the individual personalities rather than the larger group force at work.
John Darley explains that many evil actions are not the volitional products of individual
evil-doers. Instead, they are in some sense societal products in which a complex series of
social factors interact to cause individuals to commit multiple acts of stunning evil.
How do psychologists understand such transformations of human character?
Dispositional: Inside of individuals: "the bad apples"
Situational: External: "The Bad Barrel"
Systemic: Broad influences such as political, economic, and legal power: "The Bad
The Metamorphic Effects of Power
Approach/inhibition theory: integrative conceptual analysis of the transformative effects
of power that finds power to be psychologically and behaviorally activating but the lack
of power inhibiting. Power = Approach Behavior. Powelessness = Inhibition.
David Kipnis (1974) believed that powerful people tend to be more behaviorally oriented,
but in some cases that means they use their power unnecessarily.
o Power motivation: the need for power, more vigorously than others.
Mandate Phenomenon: tendency for leaders to overstep boundaries of authority when
they feel they have support from the group.
Iron Law of Oligarchy: Robert Michels principle of political and social control that
individuals in power tends to remain in power and enhance it. Disruptive contagion (ripple effect): conflict and rebellion against authority.
Pratkanis and Aronson: How to be a Cult Leader?
Revolutionary coalition: subgroup formed within the larger group that seeks to disrupt or
change the groups authority structure.
Reactance: A complex emotional and cognitive reaction that occurs when individuals feel
that their freedom to make choices has been threatened or eliminated. Herbert Kelman
identified three basic reactions that people display in response to coercive influence.
Kelmans three-step model of conversion explains how groups convert recruits into
fervent members over time. Compliance, Identification, and Internalization.
o Identification occurs when the target of the influence admires and imitates the
leader. Internalization occurs when the target adopts the induced behavior because
it is congruent with his value system. Actions reflect personal goals rather than
Psychopathy: Egocentric, deceitful, shallow, callous, lack of empathy or remorse, thrill-
seeking, impulsive individuals who use and manipulate others. Hare describes them as
human predators without conscience. DSM-IV: Personality Disorders: Anti-Social
o Hare & Babiaks Business Scan (B-Scan). Used to detect sociopaths in offices.
Destructive Leadership: Destructive Leaders + Susceptible Followers (conformers or
colluders) + Conducive Environments.
o Destructive Leaders hav