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Psych 288 Chapter 8: Conformity

by: mkennedy24

Psych 288 Chapter 8: Conformity Psych 288

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These notes cover chapter 8 on a more "in-depth" level. It includes information from both the book and lecture power points as well as examples for the majority of definitions and theories.
Psychology of Social Behavior
Dr. S. Gervais
Class Notes
Psych 288, psych, Psychology of Social Behavior, Psychology, Social Behavior, social psychology
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by mkennedy24 on Tuesday April 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psych 288 at University of Nebraska Lincoln taught by Dr. S. Gervais in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 94 views. For similar materials see Psychology of Social Behavior in Psychlogy at University of Nebraska Lincoln.


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Date Created: 04/05/16
Chapter 8: Influencing Behavior- Conformity  Conformity: When and Why? o Section 8.1 Objective: What is conformity and why does it occur? o American cultures stress the importance of not conforming  Individualistic society  Example: “You be you!”  Example: Above Photo o Conformity: A change in one’s behavior due to the real or imagined influence of other people; How and why people change behavior in response to (real or imagined) influence of other people  Obedience= compliance in response to a specific command  McDonald’s horrible “police detective hoax”  A “detective calls several McDonald’s over a period of time asking to speak with a manager. When a manager is on the phone, the “detective” tells him/her a specific employee has been stealing money from the store. The manager is told to take employee to back office to confront him/her. While on the phone, the “detective” starts to tell the manager to conduct inappropriate activities to the framed employee. The managers across all the McDonald’s that this happened too complied with the supposed detective because of the authority.  Actual case and crime; the man who conducted the horrible prank calls was caught.  American soldiers humiliating Iraqi captives  Newer soldiers may conform to other soldiers in humiliating captives because of authority.  Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What’s “Right” o Section 8.2 Objective: How does informational Social Influence motivate people to conform? o When acting like everyone else, we are conforming  Sheep o Informational Social Influence: Relying on other people as a source of information to guide our behavior; we conform because we believe that other interpretations of an ambiguous situation is correct and can help us choose an appropriate course of action  Example: Lady pulled out pepper spray at Oakview mall. Because some people only saw the act of the lady reaching for something on her person, people assumed what she was reaching for was a gun. People became afraid and began to run, influencing others to run as well and causing mass terror on a busy Black Friday morning. o Private Acceptance: Conforming to other people’s behavior out of genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is wrong.  Example: Sherif’s autokinetic effect experiment (1936)  Autokinetic effect: if you’re in a dark room and stare at a point of light for a long time, it will appear to move back and forth. o Public Compliance: Conforming to other people’s behavior publicly without necessarily believing in what the other people are doing/saying  Compliance= conform without really believing in what we are doing  Insincere, outward conformity  Reusing bath towels at hotels  Example from last unit  People come across notes left in hotel room bathrooms about how many people are reusing towels in order to keep the hotel “green”; People find a sign saying, “Help keep the hotel ‘green’ and reuse your bath towels!”  The hotel guests may comply with the signs and reuse their bath towels, but may not necessarily like doing so. o Importance of Being Accurate  Eyewitness test experiment  Relying on information around you is not always accurate  Cheating  Person next to you may not have studied for the final exam either; therefore, cheating off the person next to you may not be beneficial.  Oakview mall crisis  following others that are running and assuming there is an actual crisis was not accurate. There was no gun. o When Informational Conformity Backfires  Alien radio broadcast  Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater broadcast a radio play based on the science fiction fantasy War of the Worlds. The broadcast was so realistic that many people became scared and contacted the police. Many even tried to flee the “invasion” by car.  Why did everyone fall for the broadcast? o People most likely tuned in during the middle of the broadcast, missing the beginning where the actors mentioned that the following was going to be part of a play. o Informational Social Influence. Many people were listening with friends and family. When frightened, they looked to others around them. When seeing that everyone around also had fear about the situation, it only added to everyone’s panic.  When will people conform to Informational Social Influence?  When the situation is ambiguous o The more uncertain someone is the more likely one will rely on others o The feeling you get when it’s your turn to try something new, so you watch how others reacted during their turns in order to determine how you should feel about the activity  When the situation is a crisis o Relatable to ambiguity o Oakview Mall example  When other people are experts  Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted o Section 8.3 Objective: How does normative social influence motivate people to conform? o We conform to be liked and accepted by others o Social Norms: The implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviors, values, and beliefs of its members  Polar Plunge  Turned into a huge social activity where a person is nominated by another to jump into an ice-cold lake within 24 hours of nomination or to donate $10 to the ALS fund. If not in 24 hours, the nominatee must donate $100 to the ALS fund.  Because of such cold temperatures and young kids doing it, a child ended up dying from hypothermia due to the need to be accepted and attempt a dangerous act.  “If you’re friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?”  Most parents say this when the child is acting out and becoming victim to peer pressure  Homeowners Association in a neighborhood (Mrs. Gervais’ Example)  HA has explicit rules for the neighborhood that all inhabitants must follow  A neighbor told Mrs. Gervias that she needs to get a bush to cover her water heater because it is stated on a certain page in the rules of the neighborhood. o Normative Social Influence: Going along with what other people do in order to be liked and accepted by them; We publicly conform to the groups beliefs and behaviors, but do not always privately accept them o Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies  Soloman Asch  Conducted studies over the power of normative social influence  Used unambiguous situations, thinking people would act rationally  Participants (1 participants, all the rest are confederates)  Results: 76% conformed  fMRI Studies  Watching the activity of someone’s brain while being asked questions or attempting tasks o The Importance of Being Accurate o The Consequences of Resisting Normative Social Behavior  Study involving group conformity  The line test  1 participant, all the rest are confederates  Groups shown a picture of 3 lines and told to answer which one is the shortest/longest. All confederates go before participant and answer wrong, forcing participant to question his/her own judgment o When will people conform to Normative Social Influence?  Social Impact Theory: The idea that conforming to social influence depends on the groups importance, immediacy, and the number of people in the group  Three Variables regarding the group in question: o Strength- How important the group is to you o Immediacy- How close is the group to you in space in time during the attempt to influence you? o Number- How many people are in the group?  As the size of the group increases, so does the normative pressure it exerts  Adding a person to a smaller group makes a bigger difference than adding a person to a larger group  When the group grows larger: o Once the group reaches 4 or 5 people, the influence stops increasing  When the group is important: o Normative pressures are much stronger when the come from people whose love, and respect we cherish  Idiosyncrasy Credits: The tolerance a person earns over time by conforming to group norms; if enough credits are earned, the person can, on occasion, deviate from the group without retribution  Your group of friends want Chinese for dinner, but you want Mexican. By saying what you want to eat most likely will not cause anger in the group since you have been friends with these people for a long time o When no one has allies in the group:  Asch Study with group conformity  Line test  described above  A small dot of light that is far away experiment  explained in lecture o When the groups culture is collectivistic:  In collectivistic cultures, conformity is seen as a valued trait o Minority Influence: When the Few Influence the Many  Minority Influence: The case where the minority of group members influences the behavior or beliefs of the majority  Internalization  Strategies For Using Social Influence o Section 8.4 Objective: How can people use their knowledge of social influence to influence others?  The Role of Injunctive and Descriptive Norms  Injunctive Norms (shoulds): People’s perceptions of what behaviors are approved or disapproved of by others o Donating blood is good; littering is bad!  Descriptive Norms (actuals): People’s perceptions of how people have in given situations, regardless of whether the behavior is approved or disapproved of by others  Using Norms to Change Behavior: Beware the “Boomerang Effect”  Trying to change college student drinking behavior o Students usually overestimate how much their peers drink o Telling students that “Students at your school, on average, consume X number of drinks a week” o That should lead students to decrease their own alcohol intake to conform with others o Boomerang Effect  Seeing that majority of students drink more than you may make you conform to drink more than usual in order to be liked/ accepted.  Other Tactics of Social Influence  Foot-in-the-Door Technique: Social influence strategy in which getting people to agree first to a small request makes them more likely to agree to a second larger request o Ask neighbor if it is okay to put a small sign in their window advertising your product o Neighbor is more likely to put a giant ugly sign in their yard after saying yes to the small sign in the window  Door-in-the-Face Technique: Social influence strategy in which people first ask for a larger request that they probably refuse makes the more likely to agree later to a second smaller request o Two hours every week at a juvenile detention center o Two hours chaperoning troubled children  Propaganda: A deliberate systematic attempt to advance cause by manipulating mass attitudes and behaviors often through misleading or emotionally charged information o Nazi Propaganda  The Norms  Obey legitimate authority o Prestigious university o Authoritative experimenter o Clear instructions for behavior  Do no harm o Moral Mandate  Obedience to Authority o Section 8.5 Objective: What have studies demonstrated about peoples willingness to obey authority? o Shock Experiment  Researchers tell participants they are studying how a person learns when given negative reinforcement  Participants are either given the role of a teacher or a student  The student is asked several questions and when the student gets the question wrong the teacher must give an electrical shock.  The electrical shock increases with every question wrong  Even when the students are pleading to be let go because of pain, the experimenter urges the teacher to continue  Most continue, providing large amounts of electrical shock to people who are screaming  **Important to understand the student participants were not actually shocked**  ***Information about the experiment is on the bottom of this page*** o The Role of Informational Social Influence  The “teachers” were in an ambiguous situation and had an expert by their side. All factors that help people conform when in a state of confusion o Other Reasons Why We Conform  Conforming to the wrong Norm  Particularly difficult for people to abandon the “obey authority” because of 3 aspects: o The shock experiment was a fast paced study including several jobs  Taking notes  Keeping track of word-pairs  Determining whether learner is right or wrong  Self-Justification o Reducing dissonance: decision is completely justified o “215 volts is not that different from 200. . .” so on and so on o “The shocks must not be dangerous”  Decide nothing is wrong  Follow experimenter’s command o “Harm is being done”  Decide something is wrong  Refuse to follow commands  The Loss of Personal Responsibility o Off load of personal responsibility to someone else o Executioners in state and federal prisons could put blame on the criminal or the judge that sentenced the criminal to death Information regarding the Shock Experiment


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