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Lecture 7

PSY220H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Jeff Cooper, Cognitive Dissonance, Alt Key

Course Code
Ashley Waggoner Denton

of 10
Social Influence: Norms, Conformity, & Compliance
6:11 PM
Social Norms
Generally accepted ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving that most people in
a group agree on and endorse as right and proper
oSocial norms, we all know it exists but it's hard to pinpoint it
oOne way to see it is by breaking it
Ex. Prof talking to the wall instead of the students
Descriptive social norms: What people actually think, feel, or do
Injunctive (or prescriptive) social norms: What people should think, feel,
or do
Many norms have both of these qualities:
E.g., The norm that you cover your mouth while sneezing —
Most people agree this is something you should do, and people also tend to
do this
People tend to conform to norms for two reasons:
Informational influence: A group has informational influence if we adopt
the group consensus because it seems correct - we believe the groups’ norm
reflects reality
oHas to do w/ mastery goals
Normative Influence: A group has normative influence if we adopt the
group consensus to show identification with the group — wanting to win
respect and acceptance from the other group members —
oIs every bit as powerful as informational influence
oThis has to do w/ connectedness goals
Social Norms: Formation & Adherence
How do these social norms form? Where do they come from?
oInteraction & communication among group members leads to
convergence - people become more alike in their thoughts, feelings, and
Classic studies:
Sherif (1936)
Asch (1955)
Social Norm Formation: Sherif (1936)
Autokinetic effect: In a dark room, a stationary point of light will appear to
oVisual illusion
oPeople in a pitch dark room will see a stationary light to be moving
Participants’ task was to simply estimate how far the light had moved
When by themselves, participants’ guesses varied dramatically
oOne foot!”
oHalf an inch!”
o“6 inches!”
Returned a few days later and did the same task 4 but now as a 3-person
oWhat happened?
oThe small groups converged:
Effects had staying power: Participants were brought back one year later (by
themselves) and their judgments still aligned with the group norm that had
oThey really believed in the group norm, established it and internalized
This task was very ambiguous, and no one was probably all that confident in
their judgments
oOf course they’re going to be influenced by what other’s think
We believe the group has more knowledge than we alone do, so accepting
their input makes sense — it
should increase our chances of making a correct decision/judgment!
However, would be people be influenced by strangers’ opinions in the case of
a very clear-cut judgment task?
Social Norm Adherence: Asch (1955)
Conformity Experiment: Line Judgement Task
oAsked which of the three line matches the first line
oThe answer is very clear cut
oOnly one subject in the group, everyone else was a confederate
oEven when the evidence is obvious, the subject went along with the
o37% of the time
oPeople went along for different reasons
oThe subject went to avoid the discomfort of going along w/ the group
When they are given a partner, the number goes down to 5%
Conformity drops by 2/3 when the subjects were allowed to write down their
answers (secretly)
Private Conformity
oWe've come to believe it as we internalized it
Public Conformity
oWhen we don't personally believe it but we still go along with the
oThis is what Asch's video is talking about
Size of consensus doesn’t really matter -> Same amount of conformity shown
whether participants are among 3 confederates, or 15
What is more important is unanimity -> Much less likely to conform if even
just one confederate dissents from the group and gives the correct answer
oUnanimity means the everyone in the group but the subject has the
same answer
oJust having one supporter is enough to break the conformity
The convergence of individuals’ thoughts, feelings or behaviour toward a
social norm
Private conformity: Private acceptance of social norms
oWhen people willingly accept group norms as their own beliefs
Public conformity: Overt behavior consistent with social norms that are not
privately accepted
oWhen people pretend to go along with the group norm to avoid ridicule
or rejection
Candid Camera elevator example
oPeople do whatever the group is doing; ex. Facing the wall, taking hat
People are likely to publically conform
But imagine you are in a new culture where facing the wall is the norm in an
elevator, then you are likely to privately conform
Functions of Conformity
You may have noticed that informational influence and normative influence
fulfill our motives for mastery and connectedness, respectively
Most of the time, agreement with a group fulfills both motives simultaneously
During certain tasks, our motivations may differ, making us more or less
likely to be influenced by certain people
Type of Task
Intellective tasks: Have one verifiably correct solution
oE.g., Solving a puzzle, a math problem, a visual judgment (as in Sherif
& Asch)
oThere is an objectively correct answer that one can arrive at
oNeed for mastery (to be accurate) tends to be most important
oAlmost anyone can serve as an appropriate reference group (source
of information for the judgment)
E.g., So long as they have good eyesight, we should be able to
rely on anyone for information in the Sherif/Asch task, and we would
expect to agree with them
In other words, we can use anyone as reference or e influenced
by anyone as long as they are competent in the task
Judgmental tasks: There is no verifiably correct solution, rather they involve
value-laden decisions about social and personal issues
oE.g.1 Should the government provide more foreign aid to Pakistan,
should you and your friends go see Paranormal Activity 2, etc.