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Elizabeth Page- Gould

Conformity: Influencing Others Conformity, a change in behavior as a result of the real or imagined influence of other people Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know Whats Right 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 action In a classic experiment by Muzafer Sherif; in the first phase of the study, you are seated alone in a dark room and asked to focus your attention on a dot of light 5 meters away. The experimenter asks you to estimate in centimeters how far the light moves. You stare earnestly at the light and, yes, it moves a little. You say about 5cm, though it is not easy to tell exactly The interesting thing about his task is that the light was not actually moving at all. It looked as if it was moving because of a visual illusion called the autokinetic effect. If you stare at a bright light in a uniformly dark environment, the light will appear to waver. This occurs because you have no stable reference point to anchor the position of the light The distance that the light appears to move varies from person to person but comes consistent for each person over time In Sherifs experiment, the participants all arrived at their own, stable estimates during the first phase of the study, but these estimates differed from person to person In the second phase of the experiment, a few days later, the participants were paired with two other people, each of whom had had the same prior experience alone with the light Over the course of several trials, people reached a common estimate, and each member of the group conformed to that estimate These results indicated that people were using each other as a source of information, coming to believe that the group estimate was the correct one An important feature of informational social influence is that is can lead to private acceptance, conforming to other peoples behavior out of a 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 When Will People Conform to Informational Social Influence? When the Situation is Ambiguous When you are 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 Crisis When the situation is a crisis, we usually do not have time to stop and think about exactly which course of action we should take. We need to ask now 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 Orson Welles and his fellow actors put on a radio drama of a cataclysm the invasion of Earth by hostile Martains that was so realistic and effective that at
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