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Lecture 14

PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Social Proof, Social Cognition, Laugh Track

Course Code
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin

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Informational Influence
Ex: if everyone jumped off a cliff would you do
it too?
We are influenced by the thoughts and
behaviours of other
Bloggers (health, diet, exercise…)
Anonymous reviewers of products,
Observation of other's behaviour
Informational influence
Taking others' comments or actions
as a source of info about what is
correct, proper, effective
Is this a significant influence on
important behaviour?
A powerful example of informational influence:
Self Harm
The "Werther effect": named after 1774
book "the young Werther" in which hero
commits suicide
Led to widespread imitation (ex:
Including copycat suicides
This whole phenomena lead to
many people copying the
After a well-publicised suicide, is there an
Lecture 14
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
2:35 PM

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After a well-publicised suicide, is there an
increase in the suicide rate?
David Philips examined this idea with
"archival research" - using existing
The question was do suicide rates change
after a celebrity suicide is publicized?
After the suicide there were way
more that happened in the months
Effect happens even when correcting for
time of year, day of week, etc.
More publicity => more increase in
Greatest increase in geographical areas
with greatest publicity given.
Similar findings for single-vehicle
accidents causing death
Increase in days following a highly
publicized suicide
Greatest increase among people of
age group similar to the person in
the news story
Author suggests that news stories can
make suicide seem a reasonable,
legitimate option as a response to life's
difficulties (vs. talking to someone,
counselling , involvement in religion,
joining a group, working for a cause, etc.)
Author suggests that IF the story needs
to be reported, it should include info
about pain, disfigurement, and the
suffering of your family.
Informational influence:
Taking other's comments or actions
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