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Lecture 7

PSY220H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Normative Social Influence, Groupthink, Communication Problems

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Virginia K Walker

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Group Processes-Social Influence
March 7th, 2013
Why do people join groups?
Group influence- how it affects behaviour
Group Decisions
Conflict and Cooperation
What is a group?
Group: A collection of two or more people who interact with each other and are interdependent, in the
sense that their needs and goals cause them to rely on each other
**important to be interacting and depend on each other**
Ex. Church groups, clubs at school, spots teams, etc
Why do people join groups?
Groups help us to…
Belong- survival advantage in the past (reproduction, raise offspring, pass on genes) **need to
affiliate with others**
Define who we are (i.e. self-concept and identity); roles we occupy in society and help us come
up with narratives- seeing yourself as part of group means you see yourself as possessing those
characteristics (i.e. belonging to cheerleading group in high school)
Groups can give us feedback in terms of who we are
Get information about ourselves through social comparisons
define who we expect to be in the future
become more involved in social change; groups help individuals become force of social change
forming a group because people share similar ideas
What is the composition of a group?
Social Groups certain aspects that make them powerful influences on other’s behaviour
Usually have between 2 and 6 members (relatively small groups)
Large numbers decreases interaction between members- easier to have interaction with
each of the other members if the group is small (hard to have one on one interaction in
fairly large groups)
High levels of similarity- members tend to be alike in terms of age, sex, beliefs and opinions,
personality traits
Many groups attract people who are similar
Groups operate in ways that encourage similarity (i.e. promote conformity); by virtue of
being in group encourages and reinforces similarity
Have clear social norms- defined by expectations of group members behaviours
Explicit and implicit rules on how to behave with each other
Have well-defined social roles
Shared expectations by group members about how particular people in the group are
supposed to behave (specific to behaviour)
But, Cost to behaving inconsistently with expectations associated with those roles
May result in loss of personal identity and personality
Ex. Stanford Prison Experiment
Group cohesiveness
Qualities of a group that bind members together and promote liking among them
Something about being member of that group that keeps you bound to other
group members (i.e. cultural/national identities that binds people together in
collective group)

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But, Concern with maintaining good relations may impair ability to make good
decisions (gets in way of actually functioning of the group); i.e. don’t voice
disagreement (process loss) because you don’t want to upset other group
The Presence of Others
Mere presence
Co-action: When people are in a group and working simultaneously and individually on a non-
competitive task; working together, not against each other
Passive audience- not working/interacting with others but they simply watch you (passive)
The Presence of Others: Social Facilitation
Triplett (1898)- one of the first psychological experiments
Cyclists’ times were faster when racing together than when racing alone
Children wound a fishing reel faster when they worked as co-actors than when alone
Social facilitation: The tendency for people to do better on simple, well-learned tasks when they are in
the presence of others (tasks that are relatively simple)
Also occurs with animals- i.e. ants engage in certain behaviours much faster when they
are together with other ants
Other research showed that sometimes the presence of others lead to worse performance
Robert Zajonc (1965) **arousal enhances dominant response**
New from other areas of psychology that arousal enhances/facilitates the dominant response
but only in certain tasks
Dominant response: Response that is most likely to occur in a given situation (typically is the
correct response because it’s easy)
Simple/well-learned tasks
dominant response is likely to be the correct response
arousal makes it more likely that you will be correct because it facilitates that
you respond in the correct way
Difficult/not well-learned tasks
dominant response is likely to be the incorrect response
***being in the presence of others arouses us, then increasing our chances of
responding correctly to a situation***
Presence of others will…
Improve performance on simple/well-learned tasks
Enhances dominant response, i.e. correct response
Impair performance on difficult/not well-learned tasks
Enhances dominant response, i.e., incorrect response
Because the presence of other increase arousal
Does the presence of others always create arousal?
Arousal increases as number of others present increases
Being in a crowd also intensifies positive and negative reactions
Why does the presence of others increase arousal?
Evaluation apprehension
Mere presence of others can increase arousal
Evaluation apprehension- how concerned we are that others will be judging us in some way (i.e.
Concern for how others are evaluating us
Dominant response is enhanced when we believe that we are being evaluated
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