PSYB10H3 Study Guide - Autopilot, Biceps, Idiosyncrasy

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17 Dec 2010
Chapter 7: Conformity
Conformity : When and Why
Conformity: a change in behavior as a result of the real or imagined influence of other people
We may maintain the belief that our behavior is not influence by others, even when reality
oin an experiment, students saw ratings made by other students and the question was if the
participants were influenced by the other students response
oit was a yes. If the other student provided a positive self-assessment, participants also
evaluated themselves positively more so than if the other student had provided a negative
oparticipants were not aware that they had been influenced by the other students responses
owe probably conform a lot more than we realize or admit
social psychologists are interesting in why people conform
knowing why and when people are influenced by others will help us understand whether a given
act of conformity in their own life is wise or foolish
Informational social influence
sometimes we dont know enough to make a good or accurate choice but fortunately, we have a
use source of knowledge available to use which is the behavior of other people
informational social influence: conforming because we believe that others interpretation of an
ambiguous situation is more correct than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of
so when we act like everyone else, we are conforming but not because we are weak and we have
no self-reliance. Its because influence of other people leads us to conform because we see them
as a source of information to guide our behavior
an experiment was done to show how other people can be a source of information
oyoure in a dark room alone and asked to focus your attention on a dot of light and asked
to estimate how far the light moves
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othe light was not actually moving but it looked like it was because of a visual illusion
called the autokinetic effect
othis is when you have no stable reference point to anchor the position of the light
othe distance that the light seems to move varies from person to person but becomes
consistent for each person over time
oso the first phase, each participants comes up with their own estimate and the estimate
different between each person
othe second phase, the participants were paired with 2 other people who had the same
oover several trials, people reached to a common estimate and each member of the group
conformed to that estimate
othis shows that people were using each other as a source of information, coming to
believe that the group estimate was correct
private acceptance: conforming to other peoples behavior out of genuine belief that what they
are doing or saying is right
public compliance: conforming to other peoples behavior publicly, without necessarily believing
in what they are doing or saying
it might be that people publicly conformed to the group but privately maintained the belief that
the light was moving a small amount
ofor ex. Maybe someone privately believed that the light was moving 25 cm but announced
that it moved 5 cm (group estimate)so they dont look foolish
after when the participants were asked to give an estimate when they were alone they still went
along with the group estimate so this shows that people were relying on each other to define
reality and came to privately accept the group estimate
another variable that affects information social influence is: how important it is to the individual
to be accurate at the task
oso when participants are convinced that the task is important, theyre more likely to
conform to the group than participants who are led to believe the task is unimportant
o so basically when something is important, were more likely to rely on other people for
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When will people conform to informational social influence?
The kind of situations that people are most likely to produce conformity because of informational
social influence: ambiguous situations, crises, and situation in which an expert is present
When the situation is ambiguous
When youre unsure of the correct response, the appropriate behavior, or the right idea, you will
be most open to influence from others
Research shows that the more uncertain you are, the more you will rely on others
When the situation is a crisis
When the situations is a crisis, we usually do not have time to stop and think about exactly what
we should do
If we feel scared and panicky, and are uncertain what to do, it is only natural for us to see how
other people are responding
Unfortunately, the people we imitate may also feel scared and panicky, and not behave rationally
Contagion: the rapid transmission of emotions or behavior through a crowd
oEx. The radio broadcast of aliens made everyone believe that aliens invaded the US
oMany people were listening with friends and family, and nautrally turned to each other
out of uncertainty to see whether they should believe what they heard. But the looks of
concern and worry on their loved ones faces add to the panic people were beginning to
Instances of mind control or brainwashing, can actually be an extreme case of information social
When people believe that they are in a crisis situation, they are more likely to succumb to these
form of influence
When other people are experts
The more expertise or knowledge a person has, the more valuable he/she will be as a guide in an
ambiguous, or crisis situation
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