PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Sick Building Syndrome, Ellen Langer, Political Campaign
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PSYC 215 – March 6th, 2012
Social Influence and Persuasion
- Marcus in “About a Boy” when says “I love you” to his mom
- “A Walk to Remember” – teasing girl who is very conservative.
Why Pick on others?
- Because we are social organisms, what promotes social cohesion, is everyone doing the same thing.
So when people do things we do, we are comfortable with that. When conforming/assimilating we
are comfy, if NOT conforming we are not comfortable. So we punish people making us feel
- Too many people different from us? Threatens our group. Premium on being in a group (being
social, central to sense of self/coherence/safety), then anything indicating the group is threatened, we
- Our book says these individuals in these clips have a sense of group which is threatened if too many
people act differently. So when someone acts different, we punish them – through ridicule or
- People ask why do something against the norm. This is a mild, implicit attack. Only do it when
people do something different than what we expect.
o Ex: why get married? No, don‟t ask why.
o Ex: why NOT get married? It‟s weird.
o Ex: have kids, won‟t ask why. Don‟t have kids, we ask why.
- ask about non-conformity
- Walk down the street, three people look up, you will often look up too!
o Why? We behave like the others. People behaviour suggests that they have info we don‟t
have – behaving like them can have informative value.
o Beings in late teens, early adulthood. Smoking behaviour is often influenced by those around
us. This puts pressure on us to behave in that way too.
o Socially influenced. When enter this world, we are conforming to perceived
norms/expectations on our behaviour.
- Sick Building Syndrome
o WHO investigate work places making workers sick. “1/3 of buildings have air quality
o Is this an exposure to toxin phenomena? Or a social psychological phenomena?
o Almost never able to identify the toxin that could have created these problems (where 600
people go off work)
o About conformity. Those who are trend setters, who we “look up to”, are who we follow.
o Once change occurs, we want to conform to what the change is.
- Psychotherapy, when look at tapes of what went on in psychotherapy session, people show
improvement as the degree of emotional and behavioral mimicry increases between client and
therapist. When therapist does something, then client does it... they mimic them. This behavioral
synchrony, increases progress. Client states they feel better.
- Experiment – 2 people waiting in waiting room. Both going into the experiment. One is actually an
experimenter B. B rubs face, other person rubs their face too! So if B rubs his face, it‟s more likely
that participant rubs his face. If B shakes foot, participant more likely to shake his foot.
- Coordinate movement of a lot of vehicles. At a light, we have expectations of others – if green, they
will go. If red, they will stop. Need this expectancy, otherwise the situation would be difficult!
- “let‟s boycott streetlights!” – there would be a lot of accidents soon. Conforming to rules like this
allow us to exist in relative harmony. Behaviour on the road is explicit – clear rules about what to
- In other areas of life, there are rules which are less explicit. Like gender roles – there are
“expectancies”, some different for men. These aren‟t written down somewhere, but they are
- Some situations, there are clear rules for what to do. Clear directive on your behavior, rules you
must obey (military)
Iraq - Prisoners with bags on heads, then took pictures in embarrassing poses.
- Military operation – but most likely no officer said “yeah, let‟s do this!” something else is
happening. Something gets them to behave in this way – all the soldiers are conforming. This
requires some social involvement – no one does this alone!
- Soldiers burning the Qaran – why? Consequence is that is fuels the fire in terms of politics already!
Continuum of Social Influence
obedience – compliance – conformity – independence – assertiveness – defiance
- Obedience – someone tells you to do something
- Compliance – do gender role
- Independence – degree to which you don‟t behave like someone else
- Assertiveness – make stand to not behave like others
- Defiance – go against orders on your behaviour!
- Sherif‟s studies on norm formation
o Stare at dot, estimate the distance the dot moves. In COMPLETE darkness, people see it
move because their head moves, eye moves – they perceive the dot as moving.
o First day - Get very varied response. one person says no movement, one says 2 inches, one
says 8 inches.
o Second day – after shared experience with others, get to see results which are more similar
now – conform to other‟s opinions. By end, get consensus that dot moved 2in.
o More interact, more we move to a consensus. See this more in ambiguous situations – have
no objective reference for what you‟re experiencing. Are most interested in what other
people‟s experience are as well. We are looking to others about what this experience is about
o See greatest individual variability at beginning, but also see biggest need for info from others
- Asch‟s studies on group pressure
o Line judgement task
o Compare lines to a standard line. Which is the same? It‟s “b” – but what? That‟s not true.
o If one person gets it “wrong”, saying B, if enough people agree it‟s B even if you don‟t think
it is, you will say it‟s “b” anyways to conform.
o Participant denies evidence of his own eyes, and goes with the group. They went along with
the group for different reasons – they must be right. They went ahead of me.
o Another guy knows he‟s right, but goes along with the group to avoid the discomfort of being
opposite the group. Follow incorrect majority.
Why? Discomfort in not behaving like others; some people believed the group was
o Incorrect majority – 37% follow
o 25% refused to go along
o 50% conformed on at least 50% of critical trials. Half were willing to go along with majority
o Only works if EVERYONE before you gives same wrong answer. If even one person breaks
from it before you, then effect is lost – you don‟t go with “majority”
- Milgram‟s obedience experiments
o Brown-eyed and blue-eyed kids – told “blue” is better. They can‟t play together, brown are
not as good. Kids hold up to this because they were told so by their teacher.
- Informational influence
o Assumption that others are correct
o Sherif‟s experiments
- Normative influence
o Fear of appearing deviant/different
o Asch‟s experiments
o Pressure for us to behave in that way – thought of behaving different is anxiety-provoking
- Private conformity
o Acceptance, conversion
o Sherif‟s experiments
o Incorporate other information as part of their new experiences
o Alter beliefs and believe what they do
- Public conformity
o Asch‟s experiments
o Comply to provide a response – know it‟s wrong, but i‟ll say what they say to make situation
o Alter behaviour to look like others
Marcus in about a boy when says i love you to his mom. A walk to remember teasing girl who is very conservative. Because we are social organisms, what promotes social cohesion, is everyone doing the same thing. So when people do things we do, we are comfortable with that. When conforming/assimilating we are comfy, if not conforming we are not comfortable. So we punish people making us feel uncomfortable. Premium on being in a group (being social, central to sense of self/coherence/safety), then anything indicating the group is threatened, we react negatively. Our book says these individuals in these clips have a sense of group which is threatened if too many people act differently. So when someone acts different, we punish them through ridicule or exclusion. People ask why do something against the norm. It s weird: ex: have kids, won t ask why.