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PSYCH253 Lecture Notes - Optical Illusion, Mattress, Pole And Polar

Course Code
Emiko Yoshida

of 4
Week 6: Conformity
- The classic conformity studies
o Sherif’s norm formation study
o Asch’s group pressure study
- Compliance
- The classic obedience studies
o Milgram’s obedience studies
Conformity: change in behaviour of beliefs because of the social influence
Compliance: change in behaviour in response to a direct request
Obedience: acting in accord with a direct order
- Tendency to change perceptions, opinions, or behaviour in ways that are consistent with
group norms
- Group norms:
o Behaviour that most people engage in
o “What most people are doing”
o E.g., I look up in the sky
- Study: Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect, 1935
o In a darkened room, participants were shown a single point of light
o Participants estimated the distance the light moved
o Optical illusion light is stationary but appears to move
o First, do the task alone, then with other participants in the room
o Found that people changed their estimate and conformed to the norms
o Impacts of a confederate (an actor working for the study) gave an inflated
estimate and the inflated estimate persisted for 5 generations
- Study: Asch’s Line Judgement Study
o 6 actors and 1 real participant
o Confederates start out picking the right line then the confederates pick the same,
wrong line
o Found that the real participant conformed after
on the
Why Do People Conform?
- Informational Influence: we conform because we believe others are correct in their
o Desire to be right
o E.g., crisis situation -9/11
o E.g., Video clip: Japanese Tsunami
o E.g., Sherif’s autokinetic effect study
- Normative influence: we conform because we fear consequences of appearing deviant
o Desired to be liked
o E.g., Video clip: Mean Girls Cady dressed scary instead of slutty and felt like
she didn’t belong
o E.g., Asch’s line study
- The results of Sherif and Asch’s studies were surprising people conformed without
pressure to conform
Conformity in Everyday Life
- Power of situation people are uncomfortable with being the only minority
- Do norms affect behaviour indirectly when people are not around?
- E.g., Video clip: Elevator
o Everybody faces back of elevator and odd person follows with the different
directions faces
- Study: Impact of Norms on Crime
o In the mid 1990s, the mayor of NY adopted a “quality of life” campaign
o He had graffiti removed and the crime rates decreased why?
o Environment provides cues about behaviour that most people engage in
o Environment with graffiti and litter
Most people engage in inappropriate behaviour (littering)
Most people don’t care (not monitored)
Crimes not likely to get caught
o Clean environment
Most people engage in appropriate behaviour
Environment is better taken care of (monitored)
Crimes are likely to get caught
o Summary:
The presence of graffiti highlighted norms that most people behave
Salience of norms affected behaviour
- Behaviour change caused by direct requests
o “can you lend me your lecture notes?
o “can I have $20?
o Signs
- How can you increase compliance?
Door-in-the-Face Technique
- Make large request rejected make more moderate request
- Why does it work?
o Reciprocation of concessions
o “meeting the other fellow half way”
o Second request “seems” smaller
- Study: Cialdini et al., 1975
o Member of the “County Youth Counselling Program” approached participants
o Large request volunteering at juvenile center 2 hours/week for 2 years
o Get rejected
o Smaller request take a group of juvenile delinquents on a two-hour trip to the
o Other people were asked to do the smaller request only
o Found that those asked to do the larger request first and then the smaller request
tended to comply to the smaller request more so than those only asked to do the
smaller request
- Door-in-the-face everyday examples
o Salary negotiations
o Car dealers
o Rent
o E.g., Calvin and Hobbes
Set fire to mattress? NO
Have a cookie? yes
- Study: Shock Administration
o Study about punishment and learning
o Teacher participants were told to teach word pairs to the learner (actor)
o Participants were asked to punish mistakes with shock with increasing
o Participants were told to go on and continue with their task
o Most people actually kept going higher
o 65% of the participants went all the way to 450 volts
The learner is refusing to participate
Unable to respond
What Breeds Obedience?
- The Victim’s Distance;
o Victim in the same room versus in the next room
When teachers cannot see the learner or hear complaints, nearly
everyone obeyed (i.e., went to 450 volts)
When teachers and learners were in the same room, 40% fully obeyed
Teacher had to place learner’s hand on shock place, 30% fully obeyed