ch. 7 - conformity

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Ingrid L.Stefanovic

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 suggests o in an experiment, students saw ratings made by other students and the question was if the participants were influenced by the other students response o it 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 self-assessment o participants were not aware that they had been influenced by the other students responses o we 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 action 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 o youre 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 o the light was not actually moving but it looked like it was because of a visual illusion called the autokinetic effect o this is when you have no stable reference point to anchor the position of the light o the distance that the light seems to move varies from person to person but becomes consistent for each person over time o so the first phase, each participants comes up with their own estimate and the estimate different between each person o the second phase, the participants were paired with 2 other people who had the same experience o over several trials, people reached to a common estimate and each member of the group conformed to that estimate o this 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 o for 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 o so 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 information 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 o Ex. The radio broadcast of aliens made everyone believe that aliens invaded the US o Many 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 feel Instances of mind control or brainwashing, can actually be an extreme case of information social influence 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 o Ex. Passengers who sees smoke coming out of an airplane engine will probably look around for the flight attendant to check their reaction; they have more expertise than the passenger o However, experts are not always reliable sources of information When information conformity backfires If other people are misinformed, we will adopt their mistakes and misinterpretations Depending on others to help us reach a definition of the situation can sometimes lead to an inaccurate definition Mass psychogenic illness: the occurrence of similar physical symptoms in a group of people for which there is no known physical or medical cause o ex. A man made a comment to the bus driver that he was going to have a bad day and a while after the driver started vomiting o the driver made a distress call thinking that the bus had a chemical attack and other passenger also began to feel sick (some started vomiting, some bad a burning sensation in their eyes, etc) o medical health officer said that the medical symptoms experienced by the people were inconsistent with chemical poising o tests of the bus shows that there was no toxic chemicals o so the officer said that the symptoms were a case of mass psychogenic illness. The symptoms were because of the anxiety over a possible chemical attack the media has a power of quickly squelching the uprising of contagion by introducing more logical explanation for ambiguous events and the information is spread fast through TV, radio, internet, etc Resisting informational social influence one reason that the decision about whether to conform is so important is that it influences how people define reality. If you decide to accept other peoples definition of a situation, you will come to see the world as they do. Is you decide to reject other peoples definition of a situation, you will come to see the world differently from the way they do o in an experiment, people who conformed to the groups opinion that the police were to
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