Social Influences on the Individual/Pro-social and Anti-social behaviour

Social Influence

The effects or presence oof actions of others, either real or imagined, on the way people think, feel and behave.


A group is any collection of two or more people who interact with and influence one another and who share a common purpose.


Refers to the importance of an individual's position within a group as perceived by members of the group,


Refers to an individual or groups ability to control or influence thoughts, feelings or behaviours of another person or group.

Reward Power

Ability to give positive consequences or remove negative consequences in response to specific behaviour. Eg. An employer has the power to give a pay rise or promotion.

Coercive Power

Ability to give negative consequences or remove positive consequences in response to specific behaviour. Eg. An employer can dismiss an employee, a teacher can give a detention, or not allow a student t oattend a school excursion or function.

Legitimate Power

An individual's status or position in the group, institution or society in general gives them the right (authority) to exercise power over those with lower status or with less authority. Eg. A group leader, captain of a team, police officer,

Referent Power

Individuals identify with or want to be like or like by this person. Eg. A famous person you want to be like or a friend you want to be liked by.

Expert Power

Having special knowledge and skills that are desirable or needed. Eg. A student skilled in using a computer software application assists other students in the class.

Informational Power

Having resources or information that are useful and not available elsewhere. Eg. Someone who has had a specific experience that someone else wants to know about.


The behaviour adopted by an individual or assigned to them that influences the way in which they function or act in different situations and in life in general.


Occurs when we follow the commands of omeone with athority or the rules or laws of our society.


Used interchangeably with the term obedience, but involves changing ones behaviour in response to a request to do so, rather than involve an authority figure.

Social Proximity

Refers to the closeness of two or more people. It can be the physical distance or the relationship between the two.

Legitimacy of authority figure

An individual is more likely to be obedient when the authority figure is perceived as being legitimate and having power.

Group Pressure

An individual is more likely to be obedient when there is little or no group support for resisting an authority figure.


The tendency to adjust one's thoughts, feelings or behaviour in ways that are in agreement with those of a particular individual or group, or with accepted standards about how a person should behave in certain situations.

Group size

The size of an experimental group


Complete Agreement

Informational influence

Occurs when conformity results from a need for direction and information on the correct response in a specific situation. It leads people to accept others views when they are uncertain about what to do.

Normative Influence

Explained by out desire to be liked and accepted and our concern with being erjected by others.

Individualist culture

A culture where being an individual is valued and encouraged.

Collectivist culture

A culture where achieving group goals is considered more important than the achievement of individual goals.

Social Loafing

The tendency of an individual to make less effort when involved in a group activity than when working alone.


The loss of individuality or the sense of anonymity that acn occur in a group situation. It is a psychological state that is believed to be an important factor in explaining the extreme behaviour of some people in crowds.


Someone feels anonymous or invisible.

Shift in attention

When individuals are with others in a geoup, their attention is focused on the aactivites of the group and events in the environment.

The peer group

Made up of people who have similar interests, do the same sorts of things and often associate or interact with one another.


Anyone who has one or more characteristics or roles in common with one or more individuals. Eg. Age, sex, occupation


A positive relationshp between two or more people who usually regard or treat eachother in similar ways.

Peer pressure

A social influence by peers, which is real or imagined pressure to think, feel or behave according to standares or guidelines that are determined by peers.

Peer social activities, misconduct, conformity to peer norms, family issues.

Four broad categories of peer pressure.

Risk taking behaviour

Behaviour which ahs potentially negative consequences.

Social Relationships

Term used to describe the connection or association between two or more people, especially with regard to how they think, feel and behave towards eachother.

Pro-social behaviour

Any behaviour intended to help or benefit another person, group or society.

Noticing the situation, interpreting the situation, taking responsibility for helping

Situational factors

Noticing the situation

If you don't notice the situation as requiring assistance you won't help.

Interpreting the situation

The less ambiguous the sistuation, the more likely it is that help will be offered. (The clearer the situation, the more likely help gets offered.)

Taking Responsibility for Helping

You may notice and interpret the situation as requiring assistance, but you are unlikely to intercene and help unless you believe it is your responsibility to do so.

Bystander effect

The tendency for individuals to be less likely to help another person in need when other bystanders are present, or believed to be present, as compared to when they are alone.

Social Norms

Standards or rules that govern what people should or shouldn't do in different social situations. Include the reciprocity norm and the social responsibility norm.

Reciprocity Norm

Based on the reciprocity principle that we should give what we receive or expect to recceive.

Social Responsibility Norm

Says that we should help those who need help because it is our responsibility to do so.

Personal factors

Empathy, mood, competence.


The ability to identify with and understand another person's feelings and difficulties.


People are more likely to help if they are feeling good, or to keep feeling good, or get rid of guilt.


Our actual ability or perceived ability to help can influence whether or not we help in a specific situation, as well as the type of help we offer.


Pro-social behaviour focused on the wellbeing or benefit of others without the thought to personal goals or gain.

Conventional definition of altruism

Helping behaviour that is not motivated by personal gain or reward, but does not necessarily involve an element of personal risk,

Factors affecting reluctance to help

Diffusion of responsibility, audience inhibition, cost-benefit analysis

Diffusion of responsibility

The belief that in a situation where help is required and others are present, one or more people will or should take responsibility for helping.

Audience inhibition

This is when people may stand back and not do anything to help becasue they don't want to embarrass themselves or feel foolish.

Cost-benefit analysis

Involves the individual weighing up the personal and social costs of helping against the benefits of helping.

Anti-social behaviour

Any behaviour which is disruptive or harmful to the wellbeing or property of another person or to the functioning of a group or society.

Something that often causes anti-social behaviour.



Any behaviour intended to cause physical or psychological harm to a person (including self), animal or object.

Explanations of aggression

Psychodynamic perspective, ethological perspective, biological perspective, social learning perspective.

Psychodynamic perspective

Aggression is an inner urge or force that builds up within us until it needs to be released.

Ethological Perspective

Aggression is instinctive and has adaptive and survival functions.

Biological perspective

Aggression has a biological basis and is therefore influenced by our genes, biochemistry, brain and nervous system. Has genetic inluences, neural influences and biochemical influences.

Genetic influence

Some biological theories have focused on the role of genes in aggression.

Neural influences

Psychologists believe that it is unlikely that one particular structure or area of the brain is solely responsible for aggression.

Biochemical influences

Aggressive behaviour can result from the presence and activity of certain chemical substances in the body.

Social Learning Perspective

Says that Aggresion is a learned behaviour and most of the learning occurs through observing aggressie behaviour and copying what we see.

Observational learning

Involves learning through observing aggressive behaviour and copying what we see.


Aggressive behaviour that invovles the inappropriae use of power by one or more persons over another less powerful person or group, and is generally repeated over time.

Types of bullying

Direct bullying, direct verbal bullying, indirect bullying.

Sex differences

Boys are more likely to threaten someone with physical force and use physical violence. Girls are more likely to spread ruours, exclude others from social activities, belittle or tease other girls.