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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - Social Influence-Is Conformity Good or Bad - November 4.docx

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

November 4, 2013. Lecture 7 – Social Influence: Is Conformity Good or Bad? Social Norms  Generally accepted ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving that most people in a group agree on and endorse as right and proper  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  People tend to conform to norms for two reasons: o Informational influence: a group has informational influence if we adopt the group consensus because it seems correct – we believe the groups’ norm reflects reality o 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  Is every bit as powerful as informational influence  Formation and Adherence o How do these social norms form? Where do they come from?  Interaction and communication among group members leads to convergence  people become more alike in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour o Sherif (1936)  Autokinetic effect: In a dark room, a stationary point of light will appear to move  Participants’ task was to simply estimate how far the light had moved  When alone participants’ guesses varied dramatically  One foot, half an inch, 6 inches, etc.  Returned a few days later and did the same task with two other people  Small groups converged; after every group session their guesses got closer together to the point where they were the same  Effects had staying power: participants were brought back one year later (by themselves) and their judgments still aligned with the group norm that had formed  Task was very ambiguous, and no one was probably all that confident in their judgments  Of course they’re going to be influenced by what others 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 people be influenced by strangers’ opinions in the case of a very clear-cut judgment task? o Asch (1955)  Line length judgment task  Shown a line of reference and then a group of three lines of varying lengths, one of which being the same length as the initial line and the other two being very obviously different lengths  37% of the time the participant went along with the group and gave the wrong answer  Sometimes due to thinking they must be right because 4:1  Sometimes they know they are right but still give the wrong answer for fear of judgment due to group deviance  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 Conformity  The convergence of individuals’ thoughts, feelings or behaviour toward a social norm  Private conformity: Private acceptance of social norms o When people willingly accept group norms as their own beliefs  Public conformity: Overt behaviour consistent with social norms that are not privately accepted o When people pretend to go along with the group norm to avoid ridicule or rejection  Functions of Conformity o You may have noticed that informational influence and normative influence fulfill our motives for mastery and connectedness, respectively o Most of the time, agreement with a group fulfills both motives simultaneously o During certain tasks, our motivations may differ, making us more or less likely to be influenced by certain people o Type of Task  Intellective tasks: have one verifiably correct solution  E.g., solving a puzzle….  Need for mastery tends to be more important  …  Judgmental tasks: there is no verifiably correct solution, rather they involve value-laden decisions about social and personal issues  E.g., should the government provide more foreign aid to Pakistan, should you and your friends go see Paranormal Activity 2, etc.  Need for connectedness tends to be more important  Only particular people will be viewed as an appropriate reference group – we won’t expect to agree with everyone, but we will expect to agree with those who share our same values, beliefs, and tastes  False Confessions o If someone has done nothing wrong, but other people believe they have, is it possible for that person to come to believe they actually performed the behaviour? o False confessions: arise when someone confesses to doing something that they really did not do o There are many misconceptions about false confessions  E.g., they are remarkably common, when most would assume it must be a rare occasion  E.g., the person must have had to be threatened or tortured to give a false confession: not true  E.g., that police or detectives will be able to tell the difference between a false and true confession; truth is it is nearly impossible to tell o Types of false confessions  Voluntary: Self-incriminating statements that are offered to police without external pressure  Not important, usually crazy people or attention seekers  Coerced-compliant: Person confesses in order to avoid punishment, stop an interrogation, or obtain a promised reward. Is a mere act of public compliance by a suspect who knows they are innocent.  Coerced-internalized: person who has been exposed to suggestive and misleading interrogation tactics confesses and has truly come to believe that he or she committed the crime.  How does this happen?  Billy Wayne Cope: o Accused of raping and killing his 12-year-old daughter o Was interrogated for days, waived right to an attorney, volunteered to take polygraph, had no contact with friends or family o During first 24 hours, vehemently asserted his innocence o ….  Paul Ingram: o Devout Christian and deputy sheriff o Accused of raping his daughter, sex abuse, and satanic cult crimes that included the slaughter of newborn babies o …..  The Process of Internalization o 1. There is a sus
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