Discuss How Findings from Social Influence Research Could Be Used to Change Social Policies

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Discuss how findings from social influence research could be used to change social policies

Social change is when society adopts a new belief or way of behaving which then becomes widely accepted as the norm, and can be positive or negative. Social influence research tells us how whole societies might change, and is the process of bringing about significant societal changes, which usually results in a conflict with those in authority or power- It could be used to educate others also.
Research into obedience had exposed an intellectual illusion that often hinders critical discussion about why people behave inhumanely- the belief that only evil people do evil acts. Research by Milgram and Zimbardo showed that ordinary, decent people who are placed in positions of power, or put under pressure to obey an authority figure, may commit evil acts. Recent events in Iraq (the Abu Ghraib prison incident) has reinforced the fact that we need to be aware of the circumstances which lead to this, to reduce the likelihood of such behaviour.
To help in resisting unwanted influences, Zimbardo suggested a ten-step programme; examples of the step include to admit mistakes, to be mindful, to assert your individuality, to not sacrifice freedom for the illusion of security, to oppose unjust systems. If people follow these steps, they will be more likely to become more independent and responsible, and confident in their own mind and beliefs/values. By doing so, they will be more inclined to voice out against an unjust situation, or the social policies of the time, and therefore be able to resist the unwanted influence, perhaps by rebelling against the unjust authority, thus creating a change for the better.
In Hofling’s hospital study, 22 real nurses were observed to see if they would break three hospital rules by obeying a ‘Dr Smith’ on the phone, and administrating an overdose of…...

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