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Department
Psychology
Course
PSY-0001
Professor
Sam Sommers
Semester
Fall

Description
04/15/2014 The Power of Situations We tend to think of others in terms of stable personality We fail to appreciate the extraordinary power of context and situations Abu Gharib and the “Bad Apple” Theory Bad things happen and we blame It on specific other people The “Liverpool 38” Older boy leads away little boy for several miles Little boy, James, is screaming and has a lacerated face 38 ordinary civilians encountered boy and didn’t do anything, boys said they were just taking him home  Not something problematic about those people – could happen to any of us  Stanford Prison Experiment (Zimbardo, 1972) 2 week experiment on “prison life” Normal male college students recruited Half assigned to role of prison guard, half to role of prisoner Prisoners treated like real prisoners  3 types of prisoners Fought against guards Tough but followed orders  Model – behaved well and followed orders 3 types of guards Felt bad and gave small favors to prisoners Acted like normal guards and followed the rules Sadistic   Prisoner 416 Would not submit to guard’s control (e.g., wouldn’t eat sausages) Guards asked other prisoners if they would rather keep their blankets or sacrifice their blankets and let 416  out of solitary confinement for the night Prisoners chose blankets Promoted everything a normal prison promotes – shows power of situations in determining behavior Social Influence The presence of other people can… Influence how we see the world Make us do things we ordinarily wouldn’t Make us more apathetic than we usually are A great deal of social influence occurs via social norms Expected standards of appropriate behavior, many of which are “unwritten”  Other people change how we think and behave Sometimes via social norms, sometimes through direct request  Violation of social norms brings with it attention, negative consequences  Conformity Adjusting behavior or attitudes to match social norms Examples Fashion Baby names Hairstyles Asch (1955) Participants knowingly give wrong answer 1/3 of the time ¾ of part
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