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PSYC 2120 Chapter 7.docx

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PSYC 2120
Irwin Silverman

PSYC 2120 Chapter 7: Conformity Conformity: when and why - Conformity is defined as a change in behaviour as a result of the real or imagined influence of others. - Two quotes: “Do as most do, and will speak well of thee”, and “it were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races” - Rather than labelling conformity as good or bad, the social psychologist is interested in understanding why people conform. - We found that there are two main reasons people conform: informational and normative social influences Informational social influence: The need to know what’s right - Informational social influence occurs when people do not know the correct (or best) thing to do or say. This reaction typically occurs in ambiguous, confusing, or crisis situations, where the definition of the situation is unclear. People look to the behaviour of others as an important source of information and use it to choose appropriate courses of action for themselves. Experts are powerful sources of influence, since they typically have the most information about appropriate responses - An important feature of informational social influence is that it can lead to private acceptance, whereby people conform to the behaviour of others because they genuinely believe that these other people are correct. Public compliance, whereby a person conforms publicly without necessarily believing in what the group is saying or doing - Using others as a source of information can backfire, however, as when people panic because others are doing so. Contagion occurs when emotions and behaviours spread rapidly throughout a group. - An example of extreme and misdirected informational social inflectional social influence is mass psychogenetic illness, the occurrence of similar physical symptoms in a group of people for which there is no known physical or medical cause - You can best resist the inappropriate use of others as a source of information by checking the information you are getting against your internal moral compass Normative social influence: The need to be accepted - Normative social influence occurs for a different reason. We change our behaviour to match that of others not because they seem to know what is going on but because we want to remain a member of the group, continue to gain the advantages of the group membership, and avoid the pain of ridicule and rejection - We conform to group social norms, implicit or explicit rules for acceptable behaviours, values, and attitudes. - Normative social influence can occur even in unambiguous situations; people will conform to others for normative reasons even if they know that what they are doing is wrong. - Whereas informational influence usually results in private acceptance, which resu
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