PSYCH – Week 23 Online Readings
Week 23: Social Psychology (Part II)
Focus Question: To what degree do you produce your thoughts, feelings, and behviours
independently, as opposed to being influenced by others?
Conformity: occurs when we adjust our behaviours or attitudes to coincide with a group
norm. In society, we always need some conformity to function safely and effectively.
Two types of conformity: private and public
Private conformity: Conformity that occurs when an individual changes behaviours and
beliefs to conform to a group.
Public conformity: Conformity that occurs when an individual changes behaviours but
not beliefs to conform to a group.
Informational influence:Aform of social influence that leads a person to conform
because he or she believes others are credible and have more information.
Normative influence:Aform of social influence that leads a person to conform because
he or she fears the consequences of deviating from group norms.
Informational influence produces private conformity while normative influence produces
Sherif’s study on conformity
- Convergence on a standard for how far away a light is.Agroup norm developed.
- Private conformity
- Pg 494 of text.
Asch’s line test for conformity
- Dealt with visual perception, and people altered responses due to the influence of
- Conformed through normative influence
- Having a dissenting ally is a powerful force; participant’s conformity drops lots.
- Public conformity
Obedience: a change in behaviour in response to the commands of authority. We are
socialized to obey legitimate authority figures; anyone in a uniform.
- Obedience is evolutionary successful – a parent can see danger where a child
cannot. Also, without one person in authority to make commands, hunter-gatherer
group gets muddled.
- Fake learning task to see how people would respond to person in authority
- Participants believed they were shocking another person.
- Most participants administered a lethal shock even though they heard the
confederate protest, scream and eventually fall silent.
- Participants obeyed authority figure, but were distressed. Determining what influences obedience:
Milgram Variations I
- 1) Experimenter either in the same room as participant or different room
- 2) Participant was in same room as confederate
- 3) Wearing laboratory clothes or regular clothes
- 1) Participants generally obeyed the person in the same room and refused the
order of the person on the phone. Proximity of the authority figure effects
- 2) Distance from victim also affects obedience. Obedience dropped the closer the
- 3) Legitimacy of authority is important. Obedience highest when authority figure
had high status.
Milgram Variations II
- 1) Other confederates joined the participant and refused to continue
- 2) Use of increasing mild shocks instead of less drastic ones. 15V instead of 75V
- 3) Authority told participant that they were responsible for confederate’s welfare.
- 1) Real participants’obedience drastically fell
- 2) Obedience increased. What is another 15V compared to the previous level?
Version of foot-in-the-door technique for compliance.
- 3) Obedience levels dropped considerably.Authority’s acceptance of
responsibility affects the obedience level.
Milgram’s Findings and Limitations
Obedience depends on many factors, including proximity to the authority figure
and the victim, legitimacy of the authority figure, the presence of dissenting allies, the
use of incremental requests, and personal responsibility
Milgram raised ethical and methodological concerns:
Ethics: Participants deceived, serious trauma, no long term consequences…
Methods (ecological validity):
Compliance:Achange in behaviour elicited by a direct request from another individual
who is not an authority figure.
*Obedience = someone in authority issuing command while Compliance = no authority. Principles of Influence
Means of persuading an individual to think or behave in a certain way during a decision-
Robert Cialdini proposed 6 basic psychological principles underlie influence processes:
Consistency and Commitment: Recalling cognitive dissonance, we have a strong desire
for our attitudes to be consistent with our behaviours. Each time we comply with a
request, it modifies our attitudes and self-concept so we are motivated to act consistently
in the future. Furthermore, once a person has made a commitment, he or she usually feels
inclined to follow through with it.
Reciprocity: We treat others as they have treated us. We feel obligated to repay favours,
gifts, and acts of kindness, even when they are unsolicited.
Social Proof: We are inclined to follow the lead of others. If we witness others doing
something, we are more likely to do it as well. This is connected to social conformity,
which you studied earlier in this online lesson.
Liking: The more we like someone, the more inclined we are to comply with his or her
Authority:As demonstrated in the discussion on obedience, the power of authority can
be extremely influential.
Scarcity: People are more sensitive to losses than they are to gains, so if an item seems
rare or less available, we tend to value it more.
Foot-in-the-door technique:Atwo-step compliance technique in which the influencer
prefaces the real request by first getting a person to comply with a much smaller request.
Low-balling technique:Atwo-step compliance technique in which the influencer
secures agreement with a request but then increases the size of that request by revealing
Door-in-the-face technique:Atwo-step compliance technique in which the influencer
prefaces the real request with a request so large that it is likely to be rejected and make
the real request seem more reasonable.
That's-not-all technique:Atwo-step compliance technique in which the influencer
makes an initial request and, before the person can respond, increases the attractiveness
of the request by offering an additional benefit or decreasing its apparent size.
Creates a Perceptual contrast: If we see two things in sequence that are different
from one another, we will tend to see the second one as more different from the
first than it actually is. I.e., free gift with purchase. Interaction – Prosocial Behaviour and Interpersonal Relationships
BystanderApathy: The effect whereby the presence of others inhibits helping.
3 reasons why presence of others inhibits helping behaviour:
1. When other people are around, we are less likely to notice the event. The presence
of others can be distracting or can lead us to become inward focused. This effect
2. Pluralistic ignorance: False impression of what most other people are thinking
or feeling, or how they are responding. It occurs when people mistakenly think
that their own individual thoughts, feelings, or behaviours are different from those
3. Diffusion of responsibility: The belief that other people will or should take
responsibility for helping someone in need.
Only after a person notices a problem, identifies it as an emergency, and takes
responsibility will he or she offer assistance.
Major influences that shape our attraction to others:
- Proximity, familiarity, and physical attractiveness
Proximity leads to familiarity and attraction, though men value attraction more than
women. Women are more concerned with having a successful partner.
People generally share the same notions of who and who isn’t physically appealing:
- Averageness, ironically people who are really attractive happen to be really
average. Average signals genetic diversity and thus health.
- Facial Symmetry
- Facial Features, Women with baby-faced features; men, depends on woman’s
menstrual cycle whether they prefer more masculine or boyish faces
- Body shape, hourglass figure, men having high shoulder to hip ratio.
Reciprocity and similarity – we like people who are like us, and who like us.