PHGY 313 Lecture Notes - Stanley Milgram, Random Assignment

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8 Feb 2013
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How our behaviour changes with the presences of real or imaginary people
Conformity and authority are the two key social components
Conformity is a change in a belief or behaviour as a result of real or imagined group pressure, the key
feature and its influences on behaviour, is the group pressure
Earliest work done on conformity is Sherif (also did study on camp)
Sherif took exploited the auto kinetic effect, if you were put in a room with no light except one spot o
flight, there is a visible illusion, we will see the stationary spot in the darkened room to move, our eyes
are jumping around all the time, moving around to focus on something, which causes the still and
stationary object to seem to move
Sherif would bring individuals in room and ask them how much the spot moves, first everyone’s response
was different, then soon everyone converges to a certain distance (individual)
Then he brought in groups of three and the individuals had to disclose what they saw, and in the same way
the original estimates jumped all over the place then converged to a particular value, in the group
context, all three appear to see the same spot move in the same direction and distance=convergence,
individuals adapting to a collective frame of reference, a perspective that is shared by all group
members (convergence=conformity)
Critics said this was not easy problem to solve, and it may be a collaboration of individuals in an attempt
to solve an ambiguous problem (collaborating rather than colluding)
If a group o people facing relatively simple tasks and the group is giving an incorrect answer, what would
you do in that instance, provide your correct answer? Or go along? = Solomon Asch
Asch ran 720 trials of his paradigm and people only got it wrong 3 times, its very easy (line task)
He would bring participants in groups and you would find yourself on a line and second to last or last on
the line, and your really the only participant, everyone else is a research assistant (but you don’t know
that)
Everyone goes down the line and says which answer they think is correct, and what happens if everyone
gives the wrong answer, what happens to your behaviour then
When doing this individually, accuracy is 99%, but in group situations, 75% will give an incorrect answer
as well, start conforming with the incorrect response
25% resisted pressure to conform, in spite of the fact that everyone argued otherwise
Power of a group to alter our beliefs and behaviour and even agree in a clearly incorrect response in a task
that you didn’t get rewarded or punished for, just have to say what you think
Certain things affect conformity, first is the level of task difficulty, sometimes he made the tasks more
simple or more difficult, when the level of difficulty is more difficult, the more likely you are to rely
on the perceptions of other people, and conformity decreases as the task gets easier
The size of a majority you need in order to gain conformity, one person is not enough, rates of conformity
needs at least more than 3 people to increase agreement
Unanimity is key, if there is one person before you must be unanimously wrong, because even if one other
person sees what you see, then conformity decreases dramatically, they must be in sync
Another key feature is that your responses have to be public, if your allowed to respond privately, or write
your answer down, you become more conscientious and accurate in your answer
Obedience and conformity not the see thing, conformity involves changes in your behaviour ina response
to reciprocal behaviours of peers, group norm of relatively equal status
Obedience involves change of belief or behaviour in result of different status, authority to someone higher
than you in a hierarchy, to behave in the way they want you to
Obedience to authority studies by Stanley Milgram, he was influenced by how WWII happened, a
common explanation was that Germans are different, they have a character flaw and cannot stand up to
authority, weak of character, which is the only way the obeyed Hitler
So Milgram tried to test how people respond to authority, he conducted study at Yale, brought male
participants in a lab (20 years-50 years), they were introduced to another participant, Mr. Wallace,
about 50 years old, a little overweight, seems pleasant. They had to draw straws to being either a
teacher or a learner, and Mr.Wallace would be the learner, making the participant the teacher, “random
assignment of roles”
Mr. Wallace and participants are brought into room, and Mr. Wallace is brought into a room wired to
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