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Social Psychology Textbook Notes for Exam

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McMaster University
Jennifer Ostovich

Social Psychology Textbook Notes TOPIC 2: CONFORMITY CHAPTER 7 (193-219, 222-232) CONFORMITY: WHENAND WHY CONFORMITY: a change in behaviour as a result of the real or imagined influence of other people. • EXAMPLE: McMaster researchers observed that rats will also conform, even if it’s costly to them. -rats who were given toxic food, got sick later and learned to avoid that food, however if they exposed to other rats who were eating it, they would eat it anyways (Galen and Whiskin 2008) IV: offering toxic food DV: whether rats will eat it, even though they know it’s toxic -students asked to rate own intelligence, after seeing how others rating themselves -others set tone for self-analysis (if positive, students reports positively as well) (Voraurer & Miller 1997) IV: what type of previous example is shown to student (positive or negative) DV: how students report on themselves INFORMATIONALSOCIALINFLUENCE: THE NEED TO KNOW WHAT RIGHT • Interaction with others provides information. For social cues regarding situations in which we are unsure, or unfamiliar with INFORMATIONAL SOCIAL INFLUENCE: conforming to others because we believe that others’interpretations of an ambiguous situation is more correct than our and will help us chose an appropriate course of action. • EXAMPLE: Observation of a dot of light in a dark room, light appears to move away from you (5-10 cm) every time it reappears. (Sherif, 1936) -based on AUTOKINETIC EFFECT (dark room provides no frame of reference, so you assume light is moving, because you have no anchor securing the light in one spot even though itACTUALLY is in one spot) -chose autokinetic effect for ambiguous situation, so the purpose of the experiment is unclear to the participants. Key: This effect is experienced differently by different people. -2 Phase: same experiment but with participants in groups of 3 -In pairs, people reached a common estimate = conformation IV: In group vs. individual, autokinetic effect DV: Measure degree of conformity of people in pairs vs them alone RESULTS: People used others as sources of information, conforming to the answers of others PRIVATEACCEPTANCE: conforming to other people’s behaviour out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right PUBLIC COMPLIANCE: conforming to other people’s behaviour publicly,even though they may not agree with them. • Sherif followed up with the participants afterwards one by one for a repeat of the experiment, but the people still gave the group answers private acceptance. • When people believe the task is “important” they are more likely to conform when they don’t believe the task to be “important” (pressure of importance make people look to others for guidance) When people conform to Informational Social Influence • Ambiguous situations when unsure of correct response/appropriate behaviour EX. Fire alarm in a mall; look around to see if there is an actual emergency ORAmericans “abusing” Iraqi prisoners, tortured because • Crisis situations quick decisions made following the crowd in crisis, panic clouds EX. War of the Worlds radio prank CONTAGION: rapid transmission of emotions or behaviour through a crowd OR Solar temple cult mass suicide-murder (extreme informational social influence) • Experts placing value in the opinion of experts and professionals EX. When smoke is seen from engine, flight passengers will look to flight attendants for appropriate OR in War of the Worlds example: if listeners called the police to look for help but the cops were also under the impression that the events were actually happening When Informational Conformity Backfires • War of the Worlds example the act of conformity can be dangerous MASS PSYCHOGENIC ILLNESS: The occurrence of similar physical symptoms in a group of people for which there is no known physical or medical cause. -EX. Toxic bus case An entire bus of people reported illness in response to some sort of chemical toxin, when in fact the doctor could not find anything medically wrong with them nor any trace of chemical toxins in the bus (post-9/11 world)\ -media plays an important role Resisting Informational Social Influence (Buehler & Griffin) -asked students to read a controversial news report of a anAfrican-Canadian youth driving a stolen car, shot and killed by white cops -gave ambiguous details -the students were told that other students believed to cops to be at blame -initially students entered their opinions online, and were told the computers had crashed so they were to answer aloud in front of the other students -the ones who agreed online, then changed to no specific opinion in public to conform to the general consensus NORMATIVE SOCIALINFLUENCE: THE NEED TO BEACCEPTED EX. Train surfing and drugs NORMATIVE SOCIAL INFLUENCE: The influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them; this type of conformity results in public compliance BUT NOT private acceptance -fundamental need for human contact and companionship, very rarely are we happy as hermits, long for support and affection -conformity is essential for acceptance -“jeer pressure” when seen others laugh at a non-conformist (outside group’s norms) the pressure to conform INCREASED EXAMPLES: peacekeepers torture, Reena Virk bullies SOCIAL NORMS: The implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviours, values and beliefs Conformity and SocialApproval Asch Line Judgement Studies -Asch believed that Sherif’s experiment had conformity because it was TOO ambiguous, he thought that if the situation was completely unambiguous than people would NOT conform and be independent, rational thinkers -research indicates that conformity for normative reasons can occur simply because we do not want to risk social disapproval, even from complete strangers that we are never going to see again. RESULTS: participants in the Asch line study showed a surprisingly high level of conformity, given how obvious it was that he group was wrong in its judgements -biological evidence for how comfortable people get when they have to oppose the norm Baseline: activity in posterior brain (vision and perception) -conformed (wrong answer) =baseline reaction -DID NOT conform (right answer) = NO baseline reaction= amygdala (neg emo) When People Conform to Normative Social Influence SOCIAL IMPACT THEORY: The theory that conforming to social influence depends on the strength of the group, it’s immediacy, and the number of other people in the group 1. Strength: how important is the group to you 2. Immediacy: How close is the group to you in space and time during the influence attempt 3. Number: How many people are in the group? REASONS FOR CONFORMITY 1. When the group size is three or more -right or wrong conformity increases when group number increases -effective under normative social influence 2. When the group is important -normative pressures are much stronger when they come from people we value, love and know well = greater cost 3. When the group unanimous -normative influence is MOST powerful when EVERYONE else in the group agrees on the same thing -having even ONE ally, drastically reduces chances of conformity 4. Gender differences in conformity -women and men differ in how they conform -women are more conforming than men METAANALYSIS: is a statistical technique that allows you to combine the results across a large number of studies and come up with a meaningful statistical summary 5. When the group’s Culture is Collectivist -Collectivist countries= higher Conformity -conformity is a valued trait -promotes harmony and supportive relationships The Consequences of Normative Social Influence -donation glass jars, one with generous bills the other will adequate. The jar set the standard, more to generous, less to the adequate -households in Cali were sent one of three messages to make them conserve energy, either: 1. protect environment 2. benefit society 3. save money 4. Neighbours are all onboard Reason number 4 was the most effective! SURPRISE SURPRISE -reusing hotels towels campaign, two messages “help save the enviro” OR “75% of patron are doing it”, guess which one was more effective, NORMATIVE PRESSURE trumps all else -Conforming can also be a bad thing…. -EX. Train surfing, drug use -IN class example:AVG student overestimated AVG student’s recreational activities (drinks, smokes and drugs) -the “social norms approach” has replaced scare tactics, this method includes giving students accurate information about the lower drinking levels on their campus. This reduces ambiguity and gives the student a much healthier perspective to base their judgments off of. -sometime the social norms approach backfires because those who fall below the true average, increase the bad behaviour to match the baseline -rewarding people for being below average for UNDESIRABLE, counteracts the backfiring The Cost of Resisting Normative Social Influence -if you resist normative social influence (NSI), for examples you deviate from your friends’ usual movie picking process 2 things will happen 1. The group will try to “bring you back into the fold” -through increased conversation -try to bully or convince you to conform 2. If #1 fails, the group will shun you -through ceased conversation -they will stop trying to bring you back into the fold, reject you -we are most likely to defy the group when the group means a lot to us- phenomenon known as “LOYALDEVIENCE” this is to prevent your loved ones from making a bad decision Overcoming Normative Social Influence -firstly, be aware of when NSI is happening -take action; try to find an ally(s) -finally, know that if you always conform then it is okay to not conform once in awhile -conforming to a group over time earns you idiosyncrasy credits IDIOSYNCRASY CREDITS: The credits a person earns, over time, by conforming to a group’s norms; if enough idiosyncrasy credits are earned, the person can, on occasion, behave in a deviant manner without retribution from the group Summary: credit to disagree once in awhile Social Influence in Everyday Life -fashion (60s hippies) and fads (hula hoops for girls in the 50s) -online music marketplace, two types of conditions 1. Independent condition (48 song list) 2. Social Influence condition (48 song list with download counts) In the social influence condition: informational social influence & normative social influence In fact more people downloaded the songs that were popular, to shorten their task of finding good songs. They want to know the latest songs asap, because they want to be in the know. Social Influence and Women’s Body Image -Informational social influence is how women learn about the standards of beauty -Normative social influence explains why women feel the need to diet and exercise for body image -Conformity to cultural definitions of beauty -many cultures prefer plumpness in females attractive whereas in NorthAmerica girls=skinny -in cultures where food in scarce, a heavier body is attractive (rest of world) -in cultures where food is plentiful, a skinnier body is attractive (North America) -in the turn of the 20 century voluptuous women were favoured in NorthAmerica so the standards of beauty have undergone change over the decades, centuries, millennia -due to the standards set by models to be dangerously thin, normal everyday females tend to perceive themselves as more overweight and heavier than they actually are -Victoria’s Dirty Secret -two groups of female students from university took part of an experiment under the guise of a memory test. They were split into 2 groups: experimental and control. The control group were shown generic commercials for gas stations, cellphones whereas the experimental group were shown ads pertaining to looks (Victoria secret’s bras, shaving blades, night creams) -LATER: they were told to do a self-esteem test. SURPRISE SURPRISE! The experimental ones reported more self-dissatisfaction than the control group. IV: what types of ads are shown to which group Control: generic ads Experimental: shown ads with models DV: How they group members rate themselves on their self-esteem Social Influence and Men’s Body Image -more emphasis on muscular body types on males nowadays -reflected in toy figurines of men (GI Joe) -informational and normative influence on men as well -male-oriented magazines (Men’s Health) made males feel dissatisfied with their own bodies “Victoria’s Dirty Secret” Follow up Question: can the effect of social norms regarding body ideals be overcome? -tested an intervention intended to reduce the impact social norms. -participants: male & female students -2 conditions (Intervention condition, and NO intervention condition) -intervention condition: discussed the impracticality of comparing media portrayals of beauty to self in real world, risks of trying to conform to these images… -the boys & girls in the intervention group were educated, control group was not. Intervention group was less susceptible to media portrayals and rejected the social norms. -Control group: girls>boys (placed self-esteem on looks) -intervention: boys unaffected, girls placed LESS importance of self-esteem on looks -SO this study suggests it is possible to help people withstand normative pressures to conform Minority Influence: When the Few Influence The Many MINORITY INFLUENCE: The case in which a minority of group memebers influences the behaviour or beliefs of the majority -HOW? key is consistency - majority make others conform through normative social influence (public compliance) - minority influence the majority is informational social influence (private acceptance) -the minority introduces new, unexpected information that causes majority to examine current information and assess change. Compliance: Requests to Change your Behaviour COMPLIANCE: a change in behaviour in response to a direct request from another person DOOR –IN-THE-FACE TECHNIQUE: a technique to get people to comply with a request, whereby people are presented first with a large request, which they are expected to refuse, and then with a smaller, reasonable request you get them to agree to (the original plan all along) (pages 222-232) Obedience toAuthority -My Lai massacre in Vietnam (Us soldiers killed civilians under orders) -informational (other soldiers complying), normative (want to fit in), mindless conformity (without thought or hesitation) - Explaining away Nazi soldiers who were under mere orders… Milgram’s Shock Experiment -controlled setting to test if people were actually bad or simply conforming -most of subjects succumbed to pressure of authority figure -consistent across the board (age range, sex, occupation…nothing mattered, all conformed) -normative influence (adhering to the expert) -conformity is highest in the presence of a directive authority figure, once removed from the presence conformity decreased -if authority figure is removed, there can be a backfiring effect, they disobey the task entirely The Role of Informational Social Influence -there was also ISI in Milgram’s Shock experiment -subjects alone, complied to orders. Subject alone, no orders =no compliance. Subject with confederate who disobey DRASTIC decrease in conformity. Other Reasons Why we Obey Conforming to the Wrong Norm -sometimes when conforming without thinking, we don’t realize the social norm we are following is inappropriate or not applicable. Self-Justification -every time an important or difficult decision, dissonance is produced with resultant pressures to reduce it -an effective way of reducing dissonance produced by a difficult decision, is to tell oneself that the decision was fully justified -problem is…once you justify one thing it’s no telling how far you’ll go justifying further action - Greeks trained torturers with the use the incremental approach It’s not aboutAggression -in another version of Milgram’s experiment, the subjects were given the choice of any level of shock they wished to give the learner when he made a mistake -subject chose to give mild shocks= people are NOT evil CHAPTER 10 (327-332) Bystander Intervention: The Latane and Darley Model BYSTANDER EFFECT: The finding that the greater the number of bystanders (who witness an emergency), the less likely it is that any one of them will help 1. Noticing an event 2. Interpreting the event as an emergency PLUARALISTIC IGNORANCE: phenomenon whereby bystanders assume that nothing is wrong in an emergency because no one else looks concerned 3. Assuming responsibility DIFFUSION OF RESPONSIBILTY: Each bystander’s sense of responsibility decreases as # of witnesses increases 4. Knowing how to help 5. Deciding to implement help TOPIC 3: PERSUASION (Chapter 7 pages 220-232: see last topic, same pages) Compliance: Requests to Change your Behaviour COMPLIANCE: a change in behaviour in response to a direct request from another person DOOR –IN-THE-FACE TECHNIQUE: first request= large (expected to refuse). Next request= smaller (will hopefully comply)…. (the original plan all along)
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