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Chapter 6- Conformity From Social Psychology -Myers, Spencer, Jordan -4th ed.

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University of Waterloo
Emiko Yoshida

Chapter 6: Conformity What is Conformity? - Conformity: a change in behaviour or belief to accord with others - Conformity can be bad when it leads someone to drink and drive or join in racist behaviour - Conformity can be good when it inhibits people from cutting in front of a line at the theatres - Conformity can be inconsequential when it disposes tennis players to wear white - Conformity is not just acting as other people act it is also being affected by how they act - It is acting differently from the way you would act alone - There are several varieties of conformity: o Compliance o Obedience o Acceptance - Sometimes, we conform to an expectation or request without really believing in what we are doing - Compliance: conformity that involves publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing - Obedience: acting in accord with a direct order - Acceptance: conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure What are the Classic Conformity and Obedience Studies? Sherifs Studies of Norm Formation - Sherif wondered whether it was possible to observe the emergence of a social norm in the laboratory - Sherif had used the autokinetic phenomenon the apparent movement of a stationary point of light in the dark and asked participants to sit in a dark room with a light in front of you in which at first, nothing happens, but then for a few seconds, it moves erratically and then disappears - He had participants guess how much the light had moved by themselves and then had participants do this together - He found that participants changed their estimates when with others than on their own - Other researchers have repeated this experiment and found the same results persist for 5 generations - E.g., Chartrand and Bargh had participants work alongside a confederate who occasionally either rubbed her face or shook her foot and observed whether participants would be more likely to rub their face or shake their foot when somebody else was doing so they called this the chameleon effect o If participants did, it was an automatic behaviour, done without any conscious intention to conform, and it would incline you to feel what the other feels - E.g., Baaren and his colleagues conducted a study and found that your mimicry would also incline the other ot like you and be help to you and to others o People become more likely to help pick up dropped pens for someone whose behaviour has mimicked their own o Being mimicked seems to enhance social bonds, which even leads to donating more money to a charity 1Aschs Studies of Group Pressure (Conformity) - Asch had a participant sit last of 6 other participants which were confederates and asked them to judge which one of the three lines matched the length of the standard line - After 2 trials of saying line 2 matched the standard line, on the third trial, the first confederate gave the wrong answer, then the 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , and 6 confederates also gave the wrong answer - Asch wanted to know if the real participant would also comply and give the same wrong answer and they did - The Sherif and Asch results showed that participants complied, with no obvious pressure to conform (there were no rewards, no punishments) Milgrams Obedience Studies - Milgram studied what happens when the demands of authority clash with the demands of conscience - Milgram had participants come in to be a teacher and teach their students to word pairs and when they got them wrong, to administer a shock with increasing increments with each wrong answer - Most people actually kept going higher and found that 65% went all the way to 450 volts - Ethics of Milgrams Study; o Milgram was disturbed by the results o He had not actually hooked the shock wires to the students, but played a tape recording of cries of pain o However, the teacher participants did experience agony sweating, trembling, stuttering due to pressure to obey What Breeds Obedience? - Milgram also examined he conditions that breed obedience: - The Victims Distance; o Milgrams participants
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