Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Dispositional Factors

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Dispositional Factors

In his famous study of conformity, Solomon Asch investigated the effect of group pressure on individual behaviour using a visual perception task and a group of confederates(actors). While his study found that most people conform to group pressure, 25% of participants still never conformed. These findings suggest that people can differ in their susceptibility to group influence.

So... what makes us more or less likely to conform? How can personality and individual characteristics make us decide to go against the group?

Dispositional factors in conformity, two people with a large pencil looking at a clipboard saying rules, StudySmarterAsch famously investigated conformity in his study, freepik.com/pch.vector

What are dispositional factors in psychology?

Psychology acknowledges that several things influence our behaviour and cognition, and not everyone reacts to the same situations the same way. Dispositional factors affecting behaviour focus on individual-level characteristics that affect behaviour.

Dispositional factors definition

Dispositional factors refer to individual characteristics that can influence a person's behaviour.

What do we mean by individual characteristics? Individual characteristics include personality differences, biological differences like attitudes, genetic make-up, gender, intelligence, spiritual beliefs and any other characteristic that makes individuals who they are.

Dispositional factors examples

Let's examine how individual characteristics can influence behaviour.

Being an extroverted person can make you more likely to socialise, attend big events or choose a job that involves a lot of interactions with people.

Does it mean that introverts never socialise? Not really, but if we take a thousand extraverts and a thousand introverts from a population, the chances are that there will be a difference in how often they engage in activities that require socialisation.

People born prematurely, have a chronic illness or have a greater susceptibility to illnesses are more likely to use medical services frequently.

Optimistic and spiritual people might be more resilient to setbacks than people who tend to catastrophise and always see the worst in every situation.

Difference between situational and dispositional factors in psychology

Dispositional factors affecting behaviour refer to individual characteristics, while situational factors refer to the external factors that impact our behaviour, like context or the environment. Situational factors can include group pressure or cultural influences.

NatCen (2011) Dispositional factors and involvement in the August riots in England

In August 2011, riots broke out in Tottenham (North London) following a peaceful protest. Protestors gathered to protest the shooting of Mark Duggan. After the outbreak, the riots lasted 5 more days and resulted in damages to vehicles, shops and homes across London, which were set on fire or looted. The August riots are deemed the biggest in modest English history.

Dispositional factors in conformity, a man in a riot throwing a flaming bottle, StudySmarterDispositional factors affected people's decision to involve themselves in the August riots (2011), pixabay.com

To understand what factors motivate people's involvement, NatCen conducted interviews with 36 people who were put in custody or took part in the riots and who didn't directly participate. Based on the interviews, NatCen identified many dispositional factors that affected young people's decision to get involved in the riots.

Bleak job prospects, negative experiences with the police, attitudes towards those in power (politicians), and past criminal history were all individual factors that influenced people's decision to get involved in the riots.

What are the dispositional factors affecting conformity?

As mentioned before, when put under the same group pressure, different people will react differently. Researchers have identified dispositional factors that correlate with the likelihood of conforming. These factors involve locus of control and level of expertise.

Personality

Personality encompasses the patterns of how we think, feel and behave. One aspect of personality that has been identified as relevant for affecting conformity is the locus of control (LOC).

Locus of control is the degree to which individuals feel in control of the outcomes of their actions and what happens to them.

Having an internal locus of control means feeling responsible for your behaviour, its outcomes and what happens to you in life. Having an external locus of control means that feeling like your behaviour, its outcomes, and what happens to you depends on factors outside of yourself.

Dispositional factors in conformity, a scale representing locus of control, StudySmarter

Demonstration of the LOC spectrum, StudySmarter Originals

If a person with an internal locus of control passes their driving test, they are likely to attribute this achievement to their hard work, and if they fail, they are more likely to blame themselves for it.

A person with an external locus of control is likely to attribute passing the test to luck and attribute their failure to a mean examiner rather than their driving skills.

Locus of control and conformity

People high in internal locus of control tend to be less likely to conform to group behaviour. Since internal locus of control involves taking responsibility for your behaviour no matter what situation one is in, individuals with this disposition are less likely to conform, especially if the group is incorrect or acting harmfully.

On the other hand, someone that doesn't tend to take responsibility for what they do is easier influenced by the action of others

Expertise

The more expertise you have on a topic, the more confident you feel in trusting your judgement (instead of the group's judgement).

For someone that knows little about vaccines, the decision to vaccinate might be largely influenced by the opinions of the people around them. However, for a vaccine specialist that clearly understands how vaccines work, the decision is unlikely to be influenced by people around them that don't have the same expertise.

Expertise and conformity

Perrin and Spencer (1980) replicated the famous conformity study originally conducted in 1951 by Solomon Asch. Their study took place in the UK, and their sample consisted of Engineering students. The same line judgement paradigm was used as in the original conformity experiment.

Dispositional factors in conformity, an example of the lines used in Asch Study, StudySmarter

Demonstration of stimuli used by Perrin and Spencer (1980), StudySmarter Originals

Perrin and Spencer found that across 396 trials, only one participant conformed to the group pressure to choose the wrong answer to the task. While in the original Asch study, 75% of participants conformed at least once.

These findings can be explained by the fact that engineering students might have greater expertise and are therefore less concerned with the judgements of the other group members


Dispositional Factors - Key takeaways

  • Dispositional factors refer to individual characteristics that can influence a person's behaviour. They differ from situational factors, as situational factors refer to the external factors that impact our behaviour like context or the environment.
  • NatCen identified several dispositional factors that affected young people's decision to get involved in the August riots (2011). Bleak job prospects, negative experiences with the police, attitudes towards those in power (politicians), and past criminal history all influenced young people's decision to get involved in the riots.
  • Researchers have identified dispositional factors that correlate with conforming. These factors involve locus of control and level of expertise.
  • Locus of control is how much individuals feel in control of their actions and outcomes. People high in internal locus of control tend to be less likely to conform to group behaviour.
  • The more expertise you have on a topic, the less likely you are to conform. Perrin and Spencer (1980) found that only 0.3% of engineering students conformed in laboratory conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dispositional Factors

Dispositional factors refer to individual characteristics that can influence a person's behaviour.

Yes, dispositional factors refer to one's internal factors that can impact behaviour.

Dispositional factors can influence one's likelihood of engaging in certain behaviour. However, they are not deterministic as many other factors influence one's behaviour. For example, extroverts might be more likely to attend large parties, but it doesn't mean every extrovert will. 

Dispositional factors that influence conformity include locus of control and expertise.

Dispositional means the internal factors or characteristics of an individual.

Final Dispositional Factors Quiz

Question

What are dispositional factors?

Show answer

Answer

Dispositional factors refer to individual characteristics that can influence a person's behaviour.

Show question

Question

Give a few examples of individual characteristics that can influence behaviour.

Show answer

Answer

- Attitudes

- Personality traits

- biological factors

- cognitive factors (eg. IQ)

- motivation

Show question

Question

What is the difference between dispositional and situational factors?

Show answer

Answer

Dispositional factors affecting behaviour refer to individual characteristics, while situational factors refer to the external factors that impact our behaviour like context or the environment. 

Show question

Question

Is group pressure a situational or dispositional factor affecting behaviour?

Show answer

Answer

situational - it's an external influence

Show question

Question

What are dispositional factors in conformity?


Show answer

Answer

Dispositional factors that influence conformity include locus of control and expertise.

Show question

Question

What were the consequences of the August riots?

Show answer

Answer

The riots resulted in damages to vehicles, shops and homes across London which were set on fire or looted.  

Show question

Question

What was the method used by NatCen (2011) to investigate what motivated people's involvement in the August riots?

Show answer

Answer

NatCen conducted interviews with 36 people that were put in custody or took part in the riots as well as people that didn't directly participate.  

Show question

Question

What dispositional factors affected people's motivation to get involved in the August riots?

Show answer

Answer

Bleak job prospects, negative experiences with the police, attitudes towards those in power (politicians), and past criminal history were all individual factors that influenced people's decision to get involved in the riots. 

Show question

Question

What aspect of personality can influence conformity?

Show answer

Answer

Locus of control

Show question

Question

Which sentence is true?

Show answer

Answer

People with an internal locus of control tend to conform more, while people with an external locus of control conform less.

Show question

Question

What is the locus of control?

Show answer

Answer

Locus of control is the degree to which individuals feel in control of the outcomes of their actions and what happens to them. 

Show question

Question

What does having an internal locus of control mean?

Show answer

Answer

Having an internal locus of control means feeling responsible for your behaviour, its outcomes and what happens to you in life.  

Show question

Question

What does having an external locus of control mean? 

Show answer

Answer

Having an external locus of control means, feeling like your behaviour, its outcomes and what happens to you is dependent on factors outside of yourself. 

Show question

Question

How can expertise influence conformity?

Show answer

Answer

The more expertise you have on a topic, the more confident you feel in trusting your own judgement (instead of the group's judgement).

Show question

Question

What were the findings of the Perrin and Spencer (1980) study that investigated conformity using a sample of UK engineering students?

Show answer

Answer

Perrin and Spencer found that across 396 trials only one participant conformed to the group pressure to choose the wrong answer to the task. While in the original Asch's study 75% of participants conformed at least once. 

Show question

Question

How could the findings of the Perrin and Spencer (1980) study be explained?

Show answer

Answer

The findings of Perrin and Spencer (1980) can be explained by the fact that engineering students might have greater expertise and are therefore less concerned with the judgements of the other group members

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Dispositional Factors quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.