Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Whenever you will be doing something a little different from the norm, chances are people
will ask why. This is a mild implicit attack, and we only do it when someone does something
other than what people expect you to do. Implicit attacks on your position occur when you
go against the norm of the group.
You would not start dancing because someone else does, but if you look up chances are
others will too. This is because sometimes behaviour implies that someone else knows
something that you do not. So sometimes conformity has an informative value (we are
doing this for information value).
Smoking is something that often begins in late teens to early adulthood. Smoking behaviour
often occurs because of what people are doing around you.
Chances are that your first experiences with sex was socially influenced as well. When we
enter into sexuality, it is often because we are trying to enter into some perceived norm of
Sick Building Syndrome
People would complain that they felt dizzy, naseous, headaches, etc. Investigations started
when too many people started to complain. At some point in a hospital that employed 1200
people, 600 were off because of some sort of environmental reaction. 200 of these people
remained off work permanently. Apparently, there is a large social influence in sick building
When the prof evaluated people, at first the symptoms were very different. But later on
after there were support groups, all of a sudden the symptoms started to converge. It is
likely that there was a significant social influence on how people would be experiencing
In literature, there are arguments for both sides: that it is an air-quality issue, or that it is a
completely social-psychological phenomena. No one has ever been able to identify the toxin
itself that would create the problems.
Fashions and trends are all about social influences. We form a group, and once there is a
critical mass of this, we get stronger and stronger in influencing how others shape their
Under certain circumstances, we follow the behaviour of others even if it seems dangerous.
Next Slide Fashion is also all about conformity. We do things for a while, but then we are open to
change. Once the change occurs, we want to conform to what the new change is.
Research that is often conducted in psychotherapy. When they look at tapes that went on
during a psychotherapy session, people seem to show improvement as the degree of
emotional-physical mimicry increases between the therapist and the client. When you have
this behavioural synchrony, this seems to map on to progress with therapy. The more this
happens, the more that clients do better.
Two people wait in the waiting room, and one is a confederate. What they would do is to
have the confederate rub their face, and they would look at if the participant would do it as
There is an almost automatic (or unintentional) thing that occurs, but we are very prone to
mimicking the behaviour of others around us.
Next 4 Slides
You need to have some sort of system to guide behaviour if you will be living in a social
group. You need to be able to guide behaviour to avoid chaos. So we develop ways to ensure
harmony or cohesiveness. Example: co-ordinating the movement of motor vehicles in a city.
We have clear signals of what we should be doing and when we should (or should not) be
doing them. In other things in life, we have roles, but they may not be as explicit as with
road signs. Examples are with gender roles. We are monitored by the types of consequences
that result from actions.
Next Slide (army slide)
In some situations there is informative value to behaviour (eg: looking up), in others, there
are rules and regulations to conform to (eg: driving), and in the military we have a situation
where you are coordinating a lot of people, and it is important that everyone follows the
orders of the people in charge. There must be clear directives in people’s behaviour in the
military; here we are not asking for compliance or conformity, instead we want people to
Example where prisoners were made to be in postures naked. The soldiers took pictures.
Chances are this was not an order. This sort of thing only happens in the context of group
behaviour; something goes off track in the degree to which you are behaving according to
your role, and there is a group impact on this.
Continuum of Social Influence
How some researchers have mapped it out. Yellow arrow takes to in a way that is not
consistent to norms/prescriptions of behaviour, and the blue line is opposite.
Slide after Classic Studies Sherif’s experiment:
Put you in a room where it is all dark, and you see just a white dot. You stare at the
dot and try to estimate how much it moves.
What happens is that without other visual cues, your head or eyes will move a bit,
but because your mind doesn’t know that it was your head or eye that moved, you
have the illusion that it was the dot moving.