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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 Review: Social Proof

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Western University
Psychology 3721F/G
Nelson Heapy

Lecture 7 Review: Social Proof The Principle  Laugh tracks o Companies that produce fraudulent laugher are quite sophisticated – appropriate reaction that you are fraudulently exposed to  Are TV executives strange… or are audiences strange? o If you ask directors/TV producers, they know that they are going to get more laughs because in spite of the fraudulent laughter people will laugh more than if there was genuine laughter o We know we are treated fraudulently – the laughter has nothing to do with a tape recording – but we don‟t‟ care because it does get out of a sense of being a part of something and that we are laughing at the right things and are enjoying yourself o How this comes about o The audiences are easily persuaded to laugh because of the laugh tracks – we are easily tricked  The efficacy of transparent forgery o We are engaged in another principle of persuasion that has the characteristic of being a highly over-learned principle that may have instinctive underpinning because we are social creatures o In any kind of circumstance of ambiguity, we look to others to figure out what the appropriate behaviour is in a curtain situation o So over learned that we do it unconsciously – don‟t pay attention to the cues that show us that we are being taken advantage of o Not only affective of bringing about what the directors want, it is affective of making something poor look good  A definition: We view a behaviour as correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing Examples  Bar tenders, waiters, and waitresses o Will have a small amount of money on their drink trays to make the customers believe that other customers are tipping them  The collection plate in church … anywhere o Some churches will put money in the plate before it passes around in church because they want to give the clear message that this is what you should do  Evangelical crusades – Billy Graham o A noticed protestant evangelical preacher o The crusades were gatherings of thousands of people in venues such as football stadiums o The team that was associated with putting on these crusades would go into the towns in which they were going to be held went in weeks in advance to set up – trying to promote conversion of the people in the audience to his version of the Christian fate o The intent is for him to first talk – giving a rousing sermon/preaching on a particular topic as a basis for people to come forward and accept Jesus to their life o Their was the slightest bit of deception – where individuals where were part of the entourage who came forward to influence others to do so – individuals who were there to serve as a model that it is okay to come forward and accept Christ into their life  Advertisers o Trying to give you the sense that everybody is doing it  the bandwagon effect: everybody is jumping on the bandwagon and if you don‟t do it, there is something wrong with you or are behaving inappropriately o Something that is the norm and you are outside the norm if you don‟t do so o Usually an issue of ambiguity – e.g. ads for drugs/health issues associated with them o Use it in areas where people are a little unsure of themselves  Fear of dogs – Bandura o Bandura‟s social learning – people imitate each other o In cases where things are ambiguous, we look to others and will imitate their actions o Bandura showed that young children can be quite dramatically influenced by adults if they behaved in an aggressive action  Bobo study o Related to incidences where young children develop fears of dogs – was able to show that you could use a graded approach to get young children with a fear of dogs to gradually and eventually get to the point where they are able to cuddle a dog o Approach this by showing them that young children like themselves can play with dogs and have an enjoyable experience o Gradually introduce the child to the dog until they are comfortable around the dog o Social proof can be used in a therapeutic way to relieve phobias  The socially withdrawn child – O‟Conner o Showed that you could do the same with a particularly at risk child – some kid who just never joins in with play on the schoolyard  withdrawn o These children need attention in order to ensure they are not coming from troubled homes o Had the cooperation of parents to bring their children and allow them to watch a film that showed in successive stages that the child in the film was just like them o The video gradually showed that the child grew closer and closer to a group of children playing a game and eventually one of the children invited the child to play o Shows 3 times of children asking the child to play, finally the child accepts the invitation on the fourth time o Ends with the child being intergraded into the group and playing with the others o Found that this approach had an impact on many of the shy children Doomsday Cults  The end is nigh o Called such because you have a group of people who are initially small in number who believe that the world is going to come to an end on a particular date/time o This belief is one that is really strongly believed in to the point where there are some examples in modern history are disturbing in terms of their outcomes - collective suicide, etc. o Also something that has been with us ever since Abrahamic religions – have some sense of a Messiah returning or a central Profit returning at a later time which will cause the world to come to an end and they will be spared because of their faith and certain things they have been „instructed‟ to do  A small, exclusive group o Served as a basis of a study due to the fact that in all of these cases where people have been faced with the disconfirmation that the world did not end when they thought it would become missionaries for their religion o Only acknowledge that they made a mistake and that the end of the world will come at a different date then once thought o Studied how is it that these people have cut ties with their past and future then find that they are wrong and in being wrong they start enthusiastically arguing for the very belief system that led them into this folly o The group is small and exclusive and make a great effort in order to maintain their exclusivity o Psychologists went undercover as people who wanted to join the cult and take part as participant observers o The group believed that they had been selected by God to survive the apocalypse and will be rescued by a flying saucer  The last ten minutes o 12:00 at night on a certain date that they expected to be rescued – one of the psychologists told the cult members that they could communicate with „guardians‟ (angels) about how to prepare (e.g. removing all metal from their clothing)  The “end” comes to an end o Eventually the day came when they were supposed to be rescued and nothing happened – Faced with the largest ambiguity if their lives – in the maximum sense of insecurity  Now we have missionaries o The „guardians‟ told the psychologists was that they were actually part of a test in terms of their beliefs – because they had taken part in the correct procedures that they saved the world from the apocalypse and now must become missionaries and spread the word to the world o Bring to our attention how social proof serves as a way of dealing with a horrible dilemma – how the solution to a failed anticipation can occur o Creating additional social proof in order for them to create an answer to their ambiguous situation – people put in a position where they don‟t know what to do individually are suddenly given the solution o They felt much better even though they essentially had to start all over (their jobs, families, etc.) but made it easier for them when there were others in their position – easier than accepting the fact that what they so strongly believe in and gave up their lives for was nonsense Uncertainty as a Cause of Death  Kitty Genovese o Her case has served as the basis for understanding how dreadfully important our understanding of the consequences of when we feel uncertain o Was murdered over a period of around 38 minutes which was witnessed by around 38 people but no one came to her assistance  We know her story by chance o When her death was first reported, homicide in New York City during the time this happened was not a newsworthy story – high homicide level at that time o Kitty‟s case initially ended up on page 17 of the New York Times o The police chief of the area of Queens where Kitty was murdered – the police chief was contacted by a famous journalist names Rosenthal – was interested in a different murder case in Queens o They discuss the case but the police chief is talking about Kitty‟s case instead – after the confusion was obvious, Kitty‟s case is discussed to Rosenthal o Kitty worked at a restaurant and her patterns were very predictable – took a bus home late at night and walked from the bus stop to her apartment complex o Apartment complex surrounds a courtyard where she would walk through to get to her apartment o While she was walking home a man attacked her with a knife while she was in the middle of the courtyard – she screamed, etc. o The lights start to go on in the various surrounding apartments, which causes the killer to leave o He attacks again and people start coming to their windows but continue to do nothing – killer backed off again o The third time he attacked her he ended up killing her since no one was coming to help her/catch him o No one called the police let alone rush down the stairs to help Kitty in the 38 minutes it took to kill her o 38 people admitted that they saw part/all of the attack on kitty, but not one of them called the police or attempted to help her in some way – probably more who witnessed it but didn‟t admit it because they „didn‟t want to get involved‟ - can reasonable say that more than 38 people witnessed her death and did nothing about it o This created a whole new area of psychology – up until this point, there was no term altruism or helping behaviour whereas now these types of concept have had a lot of attention devoted to them because of Kitty‟s death o If the police had gotten only one phone call, they would have been there within 5 minutes to help her – she would have been able to live  A.M. Rosenthal o Rosenthal makes the case hit front page o If it hadn't been for the accidental conversation about Kitty, she would have died a quite death o When the story hit the front page, it created a sense of people being consensually appalled in terms of the fact that no one assisted her, especially since she could have been saved  Pluralistic Ignorance o Appeared that no one cares about their neighbours – don‟t want to get involved in large urban areas because they are alienated from each other since there is no sense of community  Darley and Latane – number of witnesses o Two young researchers of the time read this story – Darley and Latane o Came up with a hypothesis that is quite counter-intuitive o Takes a piece of conventional wisdom and turns it on its head  that there is safety in numbers o It might well be the exact opposite – in the context of large numbers of people it is less likely that people will come forward in an emergency vs. when people are faced with an emergency when they are by themselves o Safety resides in being observed in a single individual when in an emergency, not when there are numbers o Carried out experiments to test this: o A case where you are engaged to take part in a study that involves questionnaires about some sort of topic  The researcher excuses himself and says if anyone needs him his office is down the hall  you are sitting in a room filling out the questionnaires and an assistant of the research assistant comes in and goes into a room off to the side  You can hear her getting a ladder out and her climbing up the ladder and a scream/cry and then silence  As in independent variable the experimenter uses how many people are witnessing this „disaster‟:1-6 people sitting in the room at the time  Wanted to see what the people would do when they heard the disaster  If there are 6 people in the room, no one did anything – didn‟t get the researcher down the hall or see if she was alright – talked amongst each other or continued their questionnaire  Results were a straight line graph – the more people who witnessed this possible emergency, the less they are likely to come to assistance in some way o A study where you were going to discuss a war game scenario where you are trying to come up with a solution to a war game puzzle  Each individual were in a cubical and could only communicate with each other through a microphone – could talk to others and hear others in the other cubicles, but could not see each other  In the course of the discussion, one of the students indicated that he sometimes has seizures – not to worry because it doesn‟t likely happen but would appreciate assistance if someone would help if he has one  Stages a seizure during the game  The experiment has 1-8 witnesses in different groups  Results are the same as the previous study – the larger the number of individuals who witnesses the event, the lower the probability of assistance  Probability of assistance is almost 100% when there is only one other person o Doing a research task and the researcher leaves you and says they will be down the hall until it is over  As you are doing your questionnaire, there is a little whiff of smoke that comes under the door – can see and smell it  The smoke starts to come in greater volumes until there is a lot of smoke in the room  The result are predicted well – the more people in the room, the less likely people will do something to help/clarify the situation  In the worst case, when there were around 6-8 people, the room is filled with smoke to the point where they can hardly see each other (looks like a dangerous situation) the researcher had to end the experiment because the amount of smoke in the room could harm people's health  What about your emergency? o If you are faced with an emergency, don‟t assume that someone will notice you are suffering and come to your assistance o Instead, single someone out and make them responsible for your wellbeing vs. letting them look around and assume someone else will help o Make one person stick out as responsible o This can go the opposite way if someone does step forward and take responsibility for witnessing an accident – can be easily reversed once someone starts to help; can start a momentum of more people helping o E.g. accident on the highway – one person stops, causing more people to stop o If someone does help the individual, suddenly lots of people try to help o Can be problematic in another way – too many people trying to help Similarity  Lost wallet, and lost again o How dealing with someone who is or is not similar to yourself determined whether you will help them or not o Walking along a street in New York and encounter a package on the street o When you pick it up, you see there is a wallet inside and a note – the note is a written indication that the person who dropped the package must have found the wallet at some point and was making an attempt to return the wallet – the note states that someone found the wallet, didn‟t take anything, but was attempting to send it back to them o The critical variable is that the note is written in standard grammatically correct English or by someone who is not a native English speaker (written in a fractured way but not like one you have every seen before) o Whoever find the wallet with the fractured language could be foreign themselves but still not comparable – foreign to everyone o Hypothesis was that the more similar to you as a reader the language of the note, the more likely you would be to return it o If it was written in standard English, the retrieved envelope was returned 90% of the time o If it was written in the broken English, 35% of the time it was returned – this similarity is so different that you don‟t feel social proof like you would if the person was similar to you o  Dental films – peers o Films that portray people doing the right thing in the way of their teeth – public service films that show the correct way of brushing your teeth and the correct amounts of time, etc. o Usually the target group for these films are younger children when they are first learning the proper way of brushing their teeth – often focused on children o Using children of the target age as models in the films who
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