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PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Group Cohesiveness, Heterosexism, Implicit Attitude

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John Bassili

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Chapter 15 – Social Psychology
Lecture 19
Slide 2: Social Influence: refers to the change in our behaviour that occurs as a result of direct
or indirect intervention by others; can be used in clever ways (i.e. sales, con artists); sometimes
its influence is very subtle
Slide 3: The Low Ball Technique: salesperson quotes you an usually low price (which is
essentially false) to draw your attention and to which you agree to buy but later, makes up a
reason to change the price (i.e. calculation error, upgrades). Although you have been lied to,
youre likely to go through with the purchase because you feel psychologically committed
(committed to the idea that you will buy from this particular person, feel like moving forward to
close the deal, dont want to move backwards).
Anchor and adjust principle (haggering principle); if you want a better deal, you have to pull
against the anchor, if you set a low, but reasonable price (at which you want to buy), the
salesperson now has to do the pulling.
Slide 6: Conformity: when people dissent (differ/disagree), there is often pressure to conform
Slide 8: Factors that affect conformity: the size of majority
-As the number of people in the majority increases, one is more likely to conform, up
until a certain point (certain number of people). (the relationship is not linear)
oSize of group matters, but only until a certain point
Slide 9: Other factors

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Unanimity: we are less likely to conform when there is another person who deviates from the
majority (whether or not the deviant agrees with our opinion); almost no conformity occurs if the
unanimity is broken by someone else; conformity pressure is reduced
Commitment: the more committed we are to our opinion, the less likely we are to conform
Slide 10: Why do people conform?
Outcome Dependence: (the desire to be liked by others in the group) people want to “fit in” and
avoid the negative aspect of being rejected or ridiculed.
Information Dependence: (the desire to be right) people turn to others for guidance, especially
when they are uncertain; sometimes we conform because we dont know what the right answer is.
Lecture 20
Slide 11: Obedience (to authority): someone is issuing an order from a position of authority:
direct form of social influence
Slide 12: History offers many examples of atrocities: WWII, Vietnam War
Obedience is often a good thing (i.e. Parent-child relation), but can be a bad thing, as in the case
of WWII where obedience to authority was used as an explanation for immense atrocities
(exploitation of millions by Nazis).
-The situation often exerts pressures on the individual; orders given by people in authority
create such pressures
VIDEO ON OBEDIENCE (study by Stanley Milgram, 1960s, essentially Milgram wanted to
capture the situation where there is a person of authority, simulated situation where experimenter
ordered participant to administer electric shocks)
40 males, between the ages of 20-50, varying occupations and education levels

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How people learn various types of material, one theory is that people learn better in relation to
punishment, but there are no scientific studies of that other than on human beings
Some participants = teachers, other = learners
Learner participant – paid off, pretended to have heart problems
Real purpose of experiment: to test the obedience of the teacher when Milgram instructed to
continue with the experiment as the learner complained of heart issues
Although under the impression that the shocks were causing the learner harm, 65% of the
teachers went on to the end of the experiment, despite the learner’s complaints; completed the
experiment because person of authority (Milgram) insisted the experiment continue
Ethical? Participants lied to, feelings tested, etc.
Message: if there is one overall conclusion: our behaviour is very much under the control of the
When authority is bad, people will do bad things, not because they are bad people, but because
situational forces are very powerful
Slide 14: Red line – actual behaviour of participants, 100% of subjects agreed to go through with
shocks up until learner begins complaining, after which the participants start to stop
administering the shocks
Actual behaviour turned out to be completely different than the predicted behaviour
In some studies, religious people were more susceptible to authority, administered many shocks
despite religious beliefs, perhaps more trusting individuals are more likely to follow orders
Slide 15: Factors that Influence Obedience: variations in the experimental situation have an
effect on the level of obedience: the psychological proximity to the learner, the psychological
proximity of the authority, personal responsibility for administering the shock
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