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  • Types of conformity – internalisation, identification and compliance
  • Asch’s research and variables affecting conformity: group size, unanimity and task difficulty
  • Explanations for conformity: informational social influence and normative social influence
  • Conformity to social roles as investigated by Zimbardo


  • Milgram’s obedience research and situational variables affecting obedience: proximity, location and uniform
  • Explanations for obedience: agentic state and legitimacy of authority
  • Dispositional explanation for obedience: the Authoritarian Personality


  • Explanations of resistance to social influence: social support and locus of control


  • Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility
  • The role of social influence processes in social change


SPECIMEN PAPER 1 (Psychology A-level revision)

Which of the following terms best matches the statements below? Choose one term that matches each statement and write A, B, C, D or E in the box next to it. Use each letter once only.

A           Identification

B           Informational social influence

C           Normative social influence

D           Compliance

E           Internalisation

  1. Publically changing behaviour whilst maintaining a different private view. [1 mark]
  2. Group pressure leading to a desire to fit in with the group. [1 mark]
  3. When a person lacks knowledge of how to behave and looks to the group for guidance. [1 mark]
  4. Conforming to the behaviour of a role model. [1 mark]


Briefly outline and evaluate the findings of any one study of social influence.

[4 marks]


Read the item and then answer the question that follows.

Two psychology students were discussing the topic of social influence.

‘I find it fascinating how some people are able to resist social influence’, said Jack. ‘It must be the result of having a confident personality.’

‘I disagree’, replied Sarah. ‘I think resisting social influence depends much more on the presence of others.’


Discuss two explanations of resistance to social influence. As part of your discussion, refer to the views expressed by Jack and Sarah in the conversation above.

[16 marks]


SPECIMEN PAPER 2 (A-level Psychology revision)

Outline two explanations for obedience.

[6 marks]


Briefly evaluate one of the explanations that you have outlined in your answer to the question above.

[3 marks]


Read the item and then answer the question that follows.

A small group of environmentally-aware sixth form students are campaigning for their school to become ‘paper-free’ for the next six months. Recently, they had a meeting with a group of teachers who represent the teaching staff. The teachers told the students that the school could become ‘paper-free’ if the group of students could convince the rest of the student body it was a good idea.

Use your knowledge of conformity and minority influence to explain the factors that will determine how successful the small group of students will be.

[7 marks]


Outline the procedures and findings of Zimbardo`s research into conformity to social roles.

[4 marks]


Briefly discuss two criticisms of Zimbardo`s research into conformity to social roles.

[4 marks]


SPECIMEN PAPER 3 (AQA A-level Psychology revision)

Which two of the following are situational variables that can affect obedience? Choose two from the options A, B, C, D and E.

A           Proximity

B           Flexibility

C           Identification

D           Authoritarian personality

E           Location

[2 marks]


Using an example, explain the role of social influence processes in social change.

[6 marks]


Steph and Jeff are student teachers who recently joined other members of staff on a one-day strike. When asked why they decided to do so, Steph replied, ‘I never thought I would strike but I listened to the other teachers’ arguments and now I have become quite passionate about it’.

Jeff’s explanation was different: ‘To be honest, everyone else seemed to be striking and I didn’t want to be the only one who wasn’t’.

Discuss explanations for conformity. Refer to Steph and Jeff as part of your discussion.

[16 marks]


2017 (AQA A-level Psychology revision guide)

In an experiment, researchers arranged for participants to complete a very personal and embarrassing questionnaire in a room with other people. Each participant was tested individually. The other people were confederates of the experimenter.

In condition 1: the confederates completed the questionnaire.

In condition 2: the confederates refused to complete the questionnaire and asked to leave the experiment.

The researchers tested 15 participants in condition 1, and 15 different participants in condition 2.

The researchers recorded the number of participants who completed the questionnaire in each condition.


Identify the type of data in this experiment. Explain your answer.

[2 marks]


Using your knowledge of social influence, explain the likely outcome of this experiment.

[3 marks]


For this study, the researchers had to use different participants in each condition and this could have affected the results.

Outline one way in which the researchers could have addressed this issue.

[4 marks]


In order to analyse the difference in the number of participants who completed the questionnaire in each condition, the researchers used a chi-squared test.

Apart from reference to the level of measurement, give two reasons why the researchers used the chi-squared test.

[2 marks]


The calculated value of chi-squared in the experiment described on page 2 is 3.97

Table 1: Critical values for the chi-squared test


The calculated value of chi-squared should be equal to or greater than the critical value to be statistically significant.

With reference to the critical values in Table 1, explain whether or not the calculated value of chi-squared is significant at the 5% level.

[2 marks]


Discuss the authoritarian personality as an explanation for obedience.

[8 marks]


Outline one alternative explanation for obedience.

[3 marks]


2018 (A-level Psychology resources)

Outline what is meant by ‘agentic state’ as an explanation for obedience.

[2 marks]


Jenny is a psychology teacher who works with six other teachers in the department. Jenny believes strongly that homework should not be graded as it distracts students from reading verbal feedback on their work. She would like her colleagues to stop grading work. The other members of the department do not agree but have told Jenny they are willing to have a meeting about it.


Using your knowledge of minority influence, explain how Jenny might be able to persuade the rest of the department to accept her view.

[6 marks]


Psychologists investigating social influence have discovered several reasons why people conform.

Discuss what psychological research has told us about why people conform.

[16 marks]


2019 (AQA A-level Psychology resources)

Outline two explanations of resistance to social influence.

[4 marks]


In 1987, a survey of 1000 young people found that 540 said they smoked cigarettes, whilst 460 said they did not. In 2017, a similar survey of another 1000 young people found that 125 said they smoked cigarettes, whilst 875 said they did not.

Calculate the ratio of smokers to non-smokers in 2017. Give your answer in simplest form.

Show your workings.

[2 marks]


Which statistical test should be used to calculate whether there is a significant difference in reported smoking behaviour between the two surveys? Give three reasons for your answer.

[4 marks]


The survey shows that fewer young people are smoking today than in 1987.

Using your knowledge of social influence processes in social change, explain possible reasons for this change in behaviour.

[6 marks]


Discuss ethical issues in social influence research.

[8 marks]


2020 (A-level Psychology notes)

Which one of the following is most associated with informational social influence?

Shade one box only.

[1 mark]

A           It is an emotional, rather than cognitive, process.

B           It is based on a desire to be liked, rather than a desire to be right.

C           It is more likely to lead to a permanent, rather than temporary, change in attitude.

D           It occurs in unambiguous situations, rather than those where there is no obvious answer.


In a sixth form debating society, Samina is the only student in a group of six who does not believe that drugs should be legalised.

Using your knowledge of minority influence processes, explain two ways in which Samina could convince the other students in the debating society to agree with her.

[4 marks]


Researchers have identified different features of science, including:

  • replicability
  • theory construction
  • hypothesis testing.

Explain how Asch’s conformity research illustrates one of these features of science.

[3 marks]


It is the end of the school day and Freddie is pushing other students in the bus queue.

“Stop it, will you?” protests one of Freddie’s classmates.

“You can’t tell me what to do!” laughs Freddie.

At that moment, Freddie turns to see the deputy head, wearing a high-visibility jacket, staring angrily at him. Without thinking, Freddie stops pushing the other boys and waits quietly in line.


Discuss the legitimacy of authority and agentic state explanations of obedience. Refer to Freddie’s behaviour in your answer.

[16 marks]


2021 (AQA A-level Psychology notes)

Describe how Zimbardo investigated conformity to social roles.

[4 marks]


Fewer and fewer people use single-use plastic items, such as water bottles and plastic straws.

Using your knowledge of social influence processes in social change, explain why fewer and fewer people are using single-use plastic items.

[6 marks]


A researcher wanted to investigate whether there was a relationship between locus of control and resistance to social influence. Before the investigation began, he devised a questionnaire to measure locus of control.

Why would the researcher’s questionnaire produce primary data? Suggest one limitation of primary data.

[2 marks]


To assess the questionnaire’s validity, the researcher gave it to 30 participants and recorded the results. He then gave the same 30 participants an established questionnaire measuring locus of control. The researcher found a weak positive correlation between the two sets of results, suggesting that his questionnaire had low validity.

Explain how the validity of the researcher’s questionnaire could be improved.

[4 marks]


Discuss legitimacy of authority as an explanation for obedience.

[8 marks]


2022 (A-level Psychology revision notes)

Which factors affecting minority influence are illustrated by the following examples?

For each example, write the correct factor in the space provided.

[3 marks]

  • Members of a religious group give up their Saturday mornings to distribute leaflets about the importance of worship.
  • An environmental group acknowledges that recycling can be time-consuming while emphasising its importance for the future of the planet.
  • All of the members of the ‘Flat Earth Society’ agree that the Earth is flat and not round.


Name one explanation of resistance to social influence.

[1 mark]


A teacher was absent and left work for students to complete during the lesson. Some students in the class did not do the work their teacher had left for them.

Use one possible explanation of resistance to social influence to explain why this happened.

[4 marks]


Describe how situational variables have been found to affect obedience. Discuss what these situational variables tell us about why we obey.

[16 marks]