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PSYC 2120 Lecture Notes - Social Forces, Terror Management Theory, Stationary Point

Course Code
PSYC 2120
Doug Mc Cann

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Chapter 8
conformity: any change in behaviour caused by another person or group
limited to changes in behaviour caused by other people
behaving in ways that are similar to how others are behaving, without any request
compliance: a change in behaviour that is requested by another person or group; the individual acted in
a way because others asked him or her to do so
obedience: a change in behaviour that is ordered by another person or group
Why do we conform?
Informational influence: influence from others that is motivated by a desire to be correct and obtain
accurate information
Normative influence: influence from other people that is motivated by the desire to gain rewards or
avoid punishment; may simply want to be liked or want to avoid conflict
Ex: obeying laws
Sherif's Auto kinetic Effect Studies
social norm: a rule or guideline in a group or culture about what behaviours are proper or inproper
autokinetic effect: in a darkened room, a stationary point of light will appear to move periodically
participants are asked how far they think the light moved
people who are alone have different judgements, when they are put with other people their
perceptions converge
people who are together have similar perceptions, when they are put alone the norm of when
they were in a group converges into their personal perception; the norm carries on even after
participants are split up
Multi-generational norms: group norms are spontaneously established and carry over into individual
-Sherif: in study, after brief rest one of the confederates were replaced by new participant, this process
was repeated, the study continued for 11 generations, after 11 generation the responses began to drift,
but not far from the initial response
Asch's Length Judgment Studies
group is told that it is experiment about lengths of lines
standard line, 3 comparison lines
one correct answer
told everyone will announce their judgement aloud
first 2 comparison trial, confederates give correct answer, then on 3 trial all students announce
wrong answer, most participants conform to group norm
Crutchfield Apparatus
a machine that consists if an electric panel with several rows of lights; it allows the efficient
study of conformity by stimulating responses of several hypothetical participants
participants seated in cubicles, only one participant; experimenter manipulates the lights
told that his or responses will be known
participants conform
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Conformity depends on features of judgement task
ambiguity of task: conformity is more likely when task is ambiguous
difficulty of task: more difficult tasks produce more conformity
Individual differences
high self esteem; less likely to conform
conformity to same-age peers increases during elementary school, peaks around grade 9 then
decreases up to university years
Effects of group size
conformity increases as number of people increases, but only to certain extent
Asch, no increase after 3 people
How to make conformity disappear
Asch: instead of having participants answer out loud, they silently recorded their judgments in
writing, while the confederates announced their answers out loud
caused reduction in conformity
in another variation one confederate gave the correct answer, no conformity; shows a little
support decreases conformity
Cultural Differences
individualist cultures conform less than collectivist cultures
people from individualist cultures tend to have independent self concepts, collectivist cultures
have interdependent self concepts
Gender Differences
women conform slightly more than men
may be because women are more concerned about harmony in social relationships than men
may be biased because most conformity researchers are men
Foot-in-the-door technique: agreement with a small request increases the likelihood of agreement
with a subsequent larger request
Self perception Processes
people sometimes infer their internal states from their behaviour and the situation in which the
behaviour occurred
relation to foot-in-the-door technique: when people agree to an initial, small request, they may
engage in a self perception process whereby they label themselves as “helpful” because they
willingly complied with the request. When second request is made they agree because they are
“Helpful” individuals
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