Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


Conformity & Obedience #2

PART 2 Conformity Factors The variables that can affect conformity include:- Zeitgeist As demonstrated by the research of Stephen Perrin & Christopher Spencer (1980) and Nigel Nicholson, Steven Cole & Thomas Rocklin (1985), conformity can also be affected by  (the spirit of the times). Peter Smith & Michael Harris Bond (1993, p124) were in no doubt that “Levels of conformity in general had steadily declined since Asch’s studies in the early 1950s”. Culture Smith & Bond’s 1993 meta-analysis was of 20 studies using the Asch ‘lines’ methodology. Across these studies they found a mean 31.2% of conformity errors. Samples of their results are in the graphic above… The Indian teachers in Fiji were the highest in conformity and the Belgian students the lowest, apart from Perrin & Spencer’s 1980 study in England. The meta-analysis included Williams & Sogon’s (1984) study of Japanese students.In a further meta-analysis of another 133 Asch-type studies, Rod Bond & Peter Smith (1996) found that individualistic countries, such as the United States, where emphasis was placed on individual fulfilment, were less conformist generally (25.3% of trials) than collectivistic cultures like China, Asia and much of Africa (37.1%) where group needs were usually prioritised over individual needs. Heejung… Read More

The Prison Studies #2

PART 2 The Stanford Prison Experiment This study is one of the most notorious in Social Psychology – second only to Milgram’s Obedience Experiments. Philip Zimbardo was interested in testing the dispositional hypothesis that widespread problems in American prisons were due to the nature of the prison guards and the prisoners. It had been argued that prison guards bring to their jobs a particular ‘guard mentality’ and, thus, are therefore attracted to the job as they are already sadistic and insensitive people. Whereas prisoners have no respect for law and order and bring this aggressiveness and impulsivity to the prison. Zimbardo wanted to demonstrate that conditions in the prisons were not due to the type of individuals working and incarcerated in the prisons but could be best explained using a situational attribution. In particular he believed that the conditions were influenced by the social roles that prisoners and prisoner guards are expected to play. In August 1971, with funding from the US Navy and the US Marine Corps, Zimbardo (Craig Haney, Curtis Banks & Philip Zimbardo, 1973) set out to show that people allocated to be ‘prison guards’ or ‘prisoners’ would tend to slip into those predefined roles, behaving in a way that they… Read More

The Use of SDi in Psychotherapy

‘The Use of SDi in Therapy’ is one of 2 contributions commissioned from me by Tom Christensen for his compendium, Developmental Innovation: Emerging Worldviews and Individual Learning (Integral Publishers, August 2015). Originally the work was to be entitled ‘SDi Applied’ as Tom wanted to present chapters which reflected Don Beck’s ongoing development of Clare W Graves’ research. Accordingly, Tom wanted the primary term used to be SDi rather than Spiral Dynamics or the ‘Graves Model’. Although I readily acknowledge my debt to Don Beck (and Chris Cowan, for that matter), I have never operated under the SDi umbrella, preferring to use terms such as the Gravesian approach. To maintain the integrity of the piece as published, I have retained the SDi terminology. However, readers should know that effectively I mean ‘Gravesian’. Tom ended up with so many strong contributions – including from the likes of Said E Dawlabani, Elza Maalouf, Barbara N Brown and Fred Krawchuk – that he and Integral Publishers split the material into 2 volumes: the first on Systems Change and the second on Individual Learning. Both my contributions are in the second book. Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi) is often thought of as a means of addressing large-scale issues such as inter-racial conflict, socio-economic malaise and global power plays. This is the way Don Beck himself has used the model in the past, to great… Read More

Lives on the Spiral #2

PART 2 Work And Spiral Dynamics integral Prior to the Beck & Cowan workshops, career-wise I was very much driven by BLUE. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the household I grew up in, once I had gotten over the peak of my hippie rebellion, unconsciously perhaps my YELLOW taking in the consequences of all that GREEN-liberated RED indulgence – I settled easily into BLUE ways of thinking and ended up working as a consultant on quality standards like ISO 9000 and Investors in People. Unfortunately I very much approached this work, not from the angle of business improvement but from the perspective that what was required was rigid conformity to idealised models of business performance. My precision and attention to detail made me effective in getting organisations to meet their desired standard but I did little or nothing to improve business performance. One printing house in London threw out the project because I was tying them up in paperwork. That was typical of BLUE’s emphasis on form over function. That motivation was taken to the extremes of punishing the sinner when, during a procedural audit in a care home, I castigated a nurse for not signing the care plan in the right place.… Read More

Social Change #2

PART 2 Lower Left Quadrant and zeitgeist The Lower Left is also where we need to consider how zeigeist morphs and its influence on the ‘climate’ for social change. As discussed earlier, the 1950s was a deeply conservative time in the United States. Stephen Perrin & Christopher Spencer (1980), in trying to explain their failure to replicate the results of Solomon Asch’s famous  lines experiment (1951), attributed the difference in conformity to the conservatism of 1950s America as against the liberalism of England in 1980. They particularly pointed out the effects of ‘McCarthyism’, the strong ‘all-American’, anti-Communist hysteria across 1950s US which made many people frightened of being different for fear of being branded ‘un-American’. In contrast, having gone through, first, ‘hippie culture’ and then the ‘punk revolution’, Britain at the start of the 1980s was a much more liberal, anything-goes/express-yourself kind of place than it had been. Support for Perrin & Spencer comes from Nigel Nicholson, Steven Cole & Thomas Rocklin (1985) who found a modest but quite definite level of conformity among British students. Nicholson, Cole & Rocklin attributed the increase in conformity to the greater sense of national social cohesion which developed from Britain’s engagement in the Falklands… Read More

Robber’s Cave

Relaunched: 4 March 2018 The Robber’s Cave study is on a par with Stanley Milgrim’s ‘Obedience Experiments’ and Philip Zimbardo’s infamous prison study at Stanford University (Craig Haney, Curtis Bank & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), both for its sheer audaciousness and what it tells us about situational pressures to produce normative influence. Muzafer Sherif had been a growing force in the development of Social Psychology ever since his ‘autokinetic effect’ experiments in 1935 had developed the concept of conformity that would come to be known as informational influence. In fact, Sherif could be considered one of the founders of Social Psychology. His work was also highly thought of by interactionist sociologists, becoming the first psychologist to receive the Cooley-Mead Award for contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association. By the end of the 1940s his interest in understanding social processes, particularly social norms and social conflict had led him to conceive of developing a field experiment in which pubescent boys would be nurtured into forming 2 distinctive teams with strong group identities to see how conflict between the 2 groups could be exacerbated and then reduced. This would be the basis of the famous and challenging Robber’s Cave study of 1954 (Muzafer Sherif et al, 1961).… Read More

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge

Relaunched: 28 November 2015 This feature was originally published as ‘Islamification: Britain’s Challenge’ in 9 June 2013. It is now updated, expanded and relaunched under its revised title to reflect the dramatic changes that have taken place since the original publication and to add more of a European dimension. Islamification is a highly-emotive word. For me personally, it instantly conjures up images of English Defence League (EDL) demonstrators with their ‘No more mosques!’ placards But Islamification should be a word that stirs the emotions, one way or the other. By definition (, it is the process of converting a region or a society to Islam. If being in a society that is taken over by Islamists (political supporters of fundamentalist Islam) and introduces Sharia law is something you would welcome, then impending Islamification should give you comfort and possibly even joy. If, like me, you enjoy many of the freedoms (and indulgences) of living in what is increasingly a post-Christian, secular society, then Islamification may fill you with apprehension. In an Islamified Europe, non-Muslims would be ‘dhimmi’: second class citizens. So…is Islamification happening? If it is, how does Europe and, particularly for me, Britain deal with it? (Or does it deal with us?!?) Islam is… Read More

Conformity & Obedience

      While these pages are beind developed, the original materials are still available at:- Conformity and obedience are 2 principal and related topics of study in the psychological area of Social Influence. The difference between the 2 concepts can be summed up as:- obedience is a response to authority but conformity is a response to group norms those subject to authority obey those in authority but conformity usually is to peer groups obedience results from the exercise of power by those with the ability to enforce their commands but conformity associated with need for acceptance and knowing what to do the behaviour of those obeying may be very different to the behaviour of those in authority but comformity behaviour is similar to peers the demands for obedience are usually explicit whereas going with the group ‘flow’ is often implicit Conformity Morton Deutsch & Harold Gerard (1955) described 2 types of conformity, Informational Influence is when someone  conforms to a group norm because they believe this is the right thing to do in the circumstances. Deutsch & Gerrard (p629) say it is “an influence to accept information obtained from another as evidence about reality.” According to Herbert Kelman (1958),… Read More