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Lecture 2

PSYC 215 Lecture 2: Social-Psychology-Chapter-Notes-2

Course Code
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin

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Social Psychology Chapter Notes #2
CHAPTER 9: Social Influence
- social influence the many ways people affect one another, including changes in attitude, beliefs, feelings,
and behavior resulting from the comments, actions, or even the mere presence of others
- social psychology distinguish among several types of social influence
o conformity changing one’s behavior or beliefs in response to some real (or imaged) pressure
from others
can be implicit (i.e. when you decide to toss loose-fitting jeans for skinny jeans) simply
because others are doing the same
can be explicit when members of a peer group pointedly encourage one another to
smoke cigarettes
o compliance happens when conformity is explicit and is defined as responding favorably to an
explicit request by another person
compliance attempts from powerful people often are not as nuanced and sophisticated
because they do not have to be
o obedience
occurs when the power relationship is unequal and the more powerful person, the
authority figure, issues a demand rather than a request, to which the less powerful person
- in western society, conformity connotes something negative to people
- other types of conformity are beneficial, both to ourselves (because we do not have to think hard about
every possible action) and to others (because conformity eliminates potential conflict and makes human
interaction so much smoother)
- automatic mimicry
o mindlessly imitate other people’s behavior
o we all engage in mimicry
o STUDY tendency to reflexively mimic the posture, mannerisms, facial expressions, and other
actions around those around us
Undergrads took part in a two 10 mins sessions in which each of them, along with another
participant, described various photographs from popular magazines
Other participant (confederate) rubbed face frequently (in one session) whereas the other
confederate shook their foot (in another session)
Videotapes taken; participants tended to mimic (conform to) the behavior exhibited by the
o Reasons for mimicry
Two reasons
Ideomotor action merely thinking about a behavior makes its actual
performance more likely
o The principle of ideomotor action is based on the fact that the brain
regions responsible for perception overlap with those responsible for
action. When this principle is applied to mimicry, it means that when
we see others behave in a particular way, the idea of that behavior is
brought to mind (consciously) and makes us more likely to behave that
way ourselves
Prepare for interacting with others
o The tendency to automatically adopt the behavior of members of
different social categories holds true only for those with a positive
attitude toward the group in question
o (i.e. if you have a positive attitude toward elderly people and you are
reminded of elderly people, you are more likely to walk slower)
o people tend to like those who mimic them more than those who do not,
even when they are unaware of being mimicked

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o cultural differences in mimicry
being attuned to the emotions and behavior of others is more characteristic of Hispanic
cultures than of Anglo-American cultures (reflecting a value called sympatia)
such an attunement includes sympathetically mirroring the behavior of others
informational and social influence and Sherif’s conformity experiment
o sherif was influenced in how groups influence the behavior of individuals by shaping how reality is
o he noted that our most basic perceptions are influenced by frames of reference
o sherif’s experiment was built around the autokinetic illusion
o STUDY moving light study
Dark room, pinpoint of light
Nothing to judge its position against
Guess how far it moves
It people guess alone, large range of estimates
If people know the guesses of others, people will tend to converge on a consensus frame
of reference
If the light is perceived alone again, the participants would still use the group frame of
This study suggests that, when reality is ambiguous, we look to others as a source of
o Social psychologists interpret the behavior of Sherif’s participants to be the result of informational
social influence the reliance on other people’s comments and actions as an indication of what’s
likely to be correct, proper, or effective
This tendency is most pronounced when we are uncertain about how to behave or what is
factually correct
o Information Social influence was strong because Sherif’s study was as ambiguous as it gets and
therefore, participants needed to rely on group information and therefore conformed to whatever
other individual’s thought
- Normative Social Influence and Asch’s Conformity Study
o Asch predicted that in a case of clear conflict between a person’s own position and the viewpoint
of the group, there will be far less conformity than that observed by Sherif
o STUDY Asch’s experiment
8 participants gathered together to perform a simple perceptual task: determining which of
three lines was the same length as the control
each person called out a judgment publicly
on the third trial, one participant found that his private judgment was at odds with the
expressed opinions of everyone else
confederates respond incorrectly
how often would the participant forsake what he knew to be the correct answer and
conform to the incorrect judgment given by everyone else?
Experiment had no ambiguity; the right answer was clear to the participant
There was less conformity but the rate of caving in was high
¾ of participants conformed
participants conformed on 1/3 of the trials
informational social influence does not seem to be the main source of conformity pressure
in this experiment
the reason people conformed most of the time was to avoid being seen as
negative in the eyes of the observers/group
normative social influence the desire to avoid being criticized, disapproved of,
or shunned
o people are scared to deviate from the social norm because they fear the social consequences
- factors affecting conformity pressure
o group size
conformity increases as the size of the group increases; larger groups exert both normative
social influence and more informational social influence than smaller groups

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the larger the number of people who express a particular opinion, the more likely it has
merit but only among groups of 3 or 4, beyond that the amount of conformity levels off
o group unanimity
this effect occurs because the presence of an ally weakens both informational social
influence and normal social influence
this suggests a powerful tool for protecting independence of thought and action if you
expect to be pressured to conform and want to remain true to your beliefs, bring an ally
note the other person who breaks the group’s unanimity does not need to offer the
correct answer just one that departs from the groups’ answer
it liberates other people to say things that are of value
o anonymity
eliminates normative social influence and therefore should substantially reduce
informational social influence, by guiding how we come to see the issues before us, leads
to internalization our private acceptance of the position advanced by the majority
o expertise and status
the expertise and status of the group members powerfully influence the rate of conformity
grant greater status to those with expertise and we often assume tat those with high status
are experts
expertise primarily affects informational social influence
status affects normative social influence
STUDY Torrance
Pilot, navigator, and gunner were given a number of reasoning problems
If pilot came up with the correct solution (higher rank), the group eventually
reported it as their answer 91% of the time
Navigator 80%
Gunner (lowest rank) 63%
o Culture
People reared in interdependent cultures are likely to be more susceptible for both
informational social influence (they consider the actions and opinions of others more
telling) and normative social influence (they consider the high regard of other more
People from interdependent cultures are assumed to be more likely to conform
o Tight and loose cultures
Tight strong norms regarding how people should behave and do not tolerate departure
from those norms
Germany, People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Japan, Austria, Portugal,
Britain, Turkey, Italy
Loose norms are not as strong and their members tolerate more deviance
Greece, Hungary, Israel, Netherlands, Ukraine, New Zealand, Brazil
Compared to loose nations, tight nations are more likely to have governments that are
autocratic or dictorial, to have sharp controls on what can be said in the media, to have
more laws and higher monitoring to ensure that the laws are being followed, and to inflict
more punishment of disobedience
Why are some nations tight and others loose?
Tighter nations tend to have higher population densities, fewer natural resources,
unreliable food supplies, less access to safe water, more risk of natural
disasters… it appears then that behavioral constraints are associated with
ecological constraints
o Gender
People tend to conform when they are confused by the events unfolding around them
If women are taught to nurture relationships, they are more likely to be experts in that area
Difference tends to be greatest when the situation involves face-to-face contact
Women tend to conform more in stereotypically male domains and vice versa
- The influence of minority opinion on the majority
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