Theories and Experiments
Informational Influence: Occurs when people are influenced by others because of a desire to be
correct and to obtain valid information.
o This kind of influence reflects that people often rely on others as a source of information
– they trust other’s judgments to be useful in a particular context.
Normative Influence: Occurs when people are influenced by others to gain rewards or avoid
Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect Studies
Muzafer Sherif conceptualized his research on conformity as addressing the development of
social norms (a source of conformity).
Autokinetic Effect: In a darkened room, a stationary point of light will appear to move
Asch’s Length Judgment Series – (read pgs. 291-292)
Individuals had conformed to the group’s unanimous incorrect answer, when they knew the
Crutchfield Apparatus: A machine that consist of an electrical panel with several rows of lights;
it allows the efficient study of conformity by stimulating the responses of numerous
Foot-in-the-Door Technique: A strategy to increase compliance, based on the fact that
agreement with a small request increases the likelihood of an agreement with a subsequent
This occurs for two reasons:
o A) Self-Perception Processes: Relates to the self-perception theory (We infer our internal
states like attitudes and emotions, from their behaviour in a certain situation). In this
case, signing the petition makes the neighbour think they are “helpful people”. Once
asked if they are willing to put up the big sign, they are more likely to agree since they
are “helpful people”. This “helpful people” idea wouldn’t have occurred without the
small request (signature).
o B) Consistency Processes: There is a desire for consistency, which relates to the
dissonance theory (we want our attitudes and behaviours to be consistent with one
another). After agreeing with a small request, people would feel inconsistent refusing a
larger request and are more likely to accept the larger request.
Door-in-the-Face Technique: A strategy to increase compliance, based on the fact that refusal of
a large request increases the likelihood of agreement with a subsequent smaller request.
Free-Gift Technique: A strategy to increase compliance, based on the fact that giving someone
a small gift increases the likelihood of agreement with a subsequent request. Low-Ball Technique: A strategy used to increase compliance, in which something is offered at a
given price, but then, after agreement, the price is increased.
Scarcity Technique: A strategy to increase the attractiveness of a product by making it appear
rare or temporary.
Liking Technique: A strategy to increase compliance based on the fact that people are more
likely to assist others that they find more appealing than those that are not appealing.
The Norm of Obedience to Authority: The principal that we should obey legitimate authorities.
Milgram’s Obedience Studies
There is a teacher and student. The student has to memorize a series of words. If he/she got one
incorrect, they would be administered a shock by the teacher. The voltage of the shock
increased each time the student answered incorrectly.
Milgram found that 65% of the teachers were obedient to his tasks.
1) Accuracy Motivation:
People are motivated to have a correct understanding of events in the world, to make accurate
decisions, and generally to be competent in dealing with environments
This example (and similar others) refers to INFORMATIONAL influence from other people. That
is, people are an important source of information about the world, and it often makes sense to
conform to their actions or attitudes.
2) Social Motivation:
This refers to NORMATIVE influence. That is, people want to be liked and respected by others,
and conformity sometimes represents individuals’ attempts to maintain positive relationships or
avoid unpleasant interactions.
Terror Management Theory: A model hypothesizing that recognition of their own mortality
raises anxiety in humans, which they can reduce by affirming and conforming to their cultural
o Increasing the number of social forces from 2 to 3 will have greater impact than
increasing it from 5 to 6.
Psychosocial Law: A principal in social impact theory that specifies the nature of the relation
between the size of a group and its social influence. The principal predicts that as the number of
social forces increases, overall social influence increases, but at a declining rate (log-curve
Social Impact Theory: A model that conceives of influence from other people as being the result
of social forces acting on individuals, much as physical forces an affect an object. Chapter 9
o In a study done by Dovido and Gaertner, there was interview being conducted by a
participant for a position open between a black male and a white male. When their
credentials were ambiguous (neither bad, nor better), 77% of the time, the white male
was preferred over the black male.
o Implicit Association Test (IAT), that measures people’s automatic, implicit (unconscious,
uncontrollable actions and thoughts). Facial EMGs can also be used as a physiological
measure of prejudice (measures facial muscle movements).
Two Costs of Stereotypes: Oversimplification and Negativity
1) First, we may assume too much conformity or similarity within groups of people,
o Outgroup Homogeneity Effect: The tendency for perceivers to overestimate the
similarity within groups to which they do NOT belong.
2) Second cost of stereotype is that they are often unfavourable in tone.
o Why are stereotypes often unfavourable?
2) Mood Differences
Example: Mark Snyder et al., 1977 (LECTURE EXAMPLE – IMPORTANT)
o Focused on stereotype of physically attractive people: they are assumed to be warm
o Results: Women who were interacting with a man who believed her to be physically
attractive were rated as warmer and more sociable than women who were interacting
with a man who believed her to be unattractive
Subliminal Priming Procedure: A method of activating a schema or stereotype by flashing words
or pictures very briefly on a computer screen in front of a participant.
o At these fast exposure speeds, participants can only see a flash of light and cannot even
say whether the presentation was a word.
o However, it turns out that participants do perceive such stimuli subconsciously, and
concepts related to the words or pictures become activated in memory.
Meta-Stereotypes: A person’s beliefs about the stereotype that outgroup members hold
concerning his or her own group.
For example, a white Canadian may believe that Aboriginal Canadians hold a negative
stereotype of his or her group.
Motivational, emotional processes also play a role in prejudice and discrimination:
(1) Fear and hatred can develop independently of negative stereotypes
- sometimes children are raised to fear (b) Anxiety about interactions:
- instinctive mistrust of strangers (evolved)
- we are uncertain how to behave
(2) Derogating or harming members of an outgroup can make people feel good
(a) prejudice relieves frustration (scapegoating)
(b) prejudice produces feelings of superiority, which are pleasurable
EMOTIONAL SOURCES OF PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION
A: Frustration and Prejudice: Scapegoat Theory
Scapegoat Theory: A theory proposing that prejudice occurs because members of dominant
groups use discrimination against members of weak target groups to vent their frustration and
B: Perceived Competition and Prejudice: Realistic Group Conflict Theory
Realistic Group Conflict Theory: A theory proposing that when groups in society are perceived
to be competing with one another for resources, intergroup hostility van be aroused, which
leads to prejudice.
C: Self-Enhancement Motivation: Social Identity Theory
Social Identity Theory: One important component of people’s identity is their group
memberships; we strive for a positive social (group) identity.
People show ingroup favoritism: they give members of their own ingroup more resources than
D: A Unifying Model: Integrated Threat Theory
Integrated Threat Theory: A theory proposing that prejudice results from 4 types of threats:
Realistic threats, symbolic threats, threats stemming from ingroup anxiety, and threats arising
from negative stereotypes.
o 1) Realistic Threats
Are those emphasized by Realistic Group Conflict Theory – that is, competition
for jobs, political power, or other scarce resources.
o 2) Symbolic Threats
Refer to perceived threats to the ingroup’s important attitudes, beliefs, and
o 3) Threats from Intergroup Anxiety
Arise when people feel uncertain and anxious about interacting with members
of the outgroup.
o 4) Threats from Negative Stereotypes Occurs when people believe that members of the outgroup possess undesirable
characteristics (i.e. aggressiveness, untrustworthiness) that may lead to
detrimental actions towards the ingroup.
Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: A measure of stereotyped attitudes towards women, which is
composed of 2 dimensions, one positive and one negative: benevolent sexism, and hostile
o Benevolent Sexism: Positive but paternalistic attitudes (limited freedom) towards
o Hostile Sexism: Negative attitudes toward women who violate the traditional
stereotype of women.
THE VICTIM’S PERSPECTIVE: PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION FROM THE INSIDE
Personal-Group Discrimination Discrepancy: The tendency for people to report that they, as
individuals, have experienced less negative treatment based on their group membership than
the average member of their group.
Stereotype Threat: The pressure experienced by individuals who fear that if they perform poorly
on a task, their performance will appear to confirm an unfavourable belief about their group.
Causes of Genocide
Genocide is always preceded by “difficult life conditions,” such as:
2) Dehumanization or Devaluation of the Outgroup can cause a genocide.
3) Excessive Respect for Authority can also lead to genocide
4) There is always a Gradual Escalation of Aggression and Violence
5) Genocide cannot occur without Passive Bystanders
REDUCING PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION
Dissonance Theory: Proposes that people want their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours to be
consistent with one another; if they become aware of inconsistencies, they feel bad are
motivated to restore consistency.
Contact Hypothesis: The idea that exposure to members of an outgroup will produce more
favourable attitudes towards that group.
o This relates to the mere exposure effect
Imagined contact hypothesis:
Simply imagining a positive interaction with an outgroup member can reduce prejudice
Mere Exposure Effect: The tendency for attitudes toward an object to become more favourable
as people are repeatedly exposed to it.
There are 4 kinds of prerequisites that need to be met for a positive effect:
o 1) The groups must be approximately in equal status before contact will be conducive to
o 2) The groups must be involved in cooperative behaviour together.
o 3) Support from legitimate authorities, such as teachers, and parents is needed. o 4) Contact must be reasonably intimate or personally important if it is to improve
Jigsaw Classroom: A method of reaching designed to foster positive interracial contact, which
involves forming small, culturally diverse groups of students who are each given one part of the
material to be learned.
Categorization Processes and Prejudice Reduction
1) One approach is to discourage ant categorization at all: we should judge other people as
individual persons rather than members of groups. This approach has been called
Color Blind Approach: The hypothesis that to reduce prejudice, people should be encouraged to
categorize other people as individual persons, rather than as members of groups.
2) Another strategy is to encourage “Higher Level” categorization that encompasses both the
perceiver and the target.
3) The third idea has the best results. This approach involves accepting group categorizations as
inevitable (certain to happen) but encouraging mutual respect for different groups. This is
known as multiculturalism.
Social Facilitation: The effects of the presence of other people on individual performance, which
will usually be improved performance on simple tasks and impaired performance on complex
The presence of other people increases the probability of Dominant Responses on a task
o Dominant Responses: The action that is most likely to occur in a situation or on a task
when the individual is alone.
Social Loafing: The reduction of effort that people often exhibit when working in a group where
individual contributions are unidentifiable.
NOTE: The larger the group, the less effort individuals tend to exert on joint tasks.
Gender and Cultural Differences in Social Loafing
Men are more likely to do it than women. In fact, using groups composed of ONLY women have
generally found no evidence of social loafing at all.
Deindividuation: Immersion in a Group
How deindividuation affects behaviour:
1) Deindividuation weakens people’s inhibitions against performing harmful
2) Deindividuation heightens people’s responsiveness to external cues, which
may be either negative or positive.
3) Deindividuation increases people’s adherence to norms that emerge in a
group (i.e. riots, people think it’s okay to go against authority because
everyone else it). Groupthink: A way of thinking that can occur in decision-making groups when pressure to agree
leads to inadequate appraisal of options and poor decisions.
o Happens when members of a group are highly motivated to agree with the leader and
with one another, they do not express their reservations openly and do no not criticize
Groupthink happens for 3 factors:
o 1) Group Cohesiveness: The combined strength of all forces acting on members of a
group to remain in the group.
o 2) Directive Leader
When a leader is highly directive, group members know exactly where he or she
stands, which puts pressure on them to agree.
o 3) High Stress
Group Polarization: The tendency for group discussion to strengthen the initial leanings of the
members in a group.
Causes of Group Polarization
o 1) The Arguments that are Presented during the Group Discussion.
People usually argue in favour of their own view on an issue. This means that
the majority of arguments offered during a discussion are likely to support
whatever view was predominant before the discussion began.
o 2) People’s Desire to Appear Knowledgeable and Intelligent
NOTE: These two causes parallel with the concepts of informational influence and normative
influence (chapter 8).
o Group discussion leads to polarized judgments because embers of the group use
members’ arguments as a source of information (informational influence) and because
they feel social pressure to move towards the dominant view (normative influence).
Minorities have a special kind of influence on others in the group. Exposure to a minority view
stimulates divergent thinking.
o Divergent Thinking: Novel, creative thoughts that consider alternative approaches to a
Majorities elicit convergent thinking
o Convergent Thinking: Standard or typical approaches to a problem.
Who is selected for as the leader in a group? And who makes an effective leader?
Trait: Focuses on the characteristics of people who become leaders
Situational: Focuses on the external factors that influence the selection
and effectiveness of leaders
Interactionist: Investigates the combined effects of traits and situational
Defining a Leader
1) In some groups, the leader is the person who holds formal position of authority, 2) Another way to define a leader is to say that he or she is the person who is so-named by most
3) A third way to identify