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Chapter 6

PSYC 1002 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Necktie, Stationary Point, Chameleon

Course Code
PSYC 1002
Mara Fuentes Avila

of 4
Chapter 6: Conformity
What is Conformity?
- In North American conformity is given a negative label rather than positive
- In Asian countries conformity is a sign of self-control and maturity
-Conformity: it is a change in behavior or belief to accord with others, it is acting or
thinking differently from the way you would act and think if you were alone
oCompliance: conformity that involves acting in accord with social pressure while
privately disagreeing ex. We put on a necktie but we dislike doing this
oObedience: your compliance came from an explicit demand
oAcceptance: this is when we believe in what the group has persuaded us to do,
conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure
What are the Classic Conformity and Obedience Studies?
Sherif’s Studies of Norm Formation
- Sherif wondered if it was possible to observe the emergence of a social norm in the lab
- First day you sit in a dark room and then 5m infront of you there is a pinpoint of light and
you have to guess how far it is moved
- Next day you get joined by other people and say how far you think the light moves and
conformity happens
-Autokinetic Phenomenon: the movement of a stationary point of light in the dark,
where you think you have spotted a moving satellite only to realize it was an isolated star
oJacobs and Donald Campbell studied the transmission of false beliefs
oUsing the autokinetic phenomenon they had a confederate give an inflated
estimate of how far the light moved
oConfederate then left and was replaced by a real subject who was also later
replaced by another real subject and the inflated illusion persisted for 5
generations of participants
oThis shows that our views of reality are not our ours alone
-Chatrand and Bargh created the chameleon effect which is when you do the same
actions of the other person near you without knowing ex. A confederate rubbing their
face during experiment would cause you to rub your face more
-David Phillips created the “Werther effect” which says that auto accidents, suicides and
private airplane crashes increase after well-publicized suicides
Asch’s Studies of Group Pressure
- The experimenter would ask subjects which of the three lines matches the standard line
- In the third trial the person gives a wrong answer and 75% of people ended up
conforming to the wrong answer and 37% of responses were conforming
Milgram’s Obedience Studies
- Subjects come in thinking it’s an experiment on learning and memory and a person in a
coat explains the effect of punishment on learning
- The subject punishes the errors by delivering shocks of increasing intensity
- If the participant complies with the experimenters request they hear the learner grunt
- 65% went up to the highest voltage
Ethics of Milgram’s Studies
- Milgram stressed his participants against their will
- The participants self-concepts may have been altered
What Breeds Obedience?
Victim’s Distance
- Milgram’s participants acted with greatest obedience and least compassion when the
learner could not be seen
- When the learner was in the same room only 40% obeyed to 450 volts
- Full compliance dropped to 30% when teachers were required to force the learner’s
hand into contact with a shock plate
- People are more cruel when they aren’t in touch with the person
- People act most compassionately toward those who are personalized
Closeness and Legitimacy of the Authority
- When the one making the request to emit a shock is physically close compliance
- Authority must be perceived as legitimate
Institutional Authority
- When Milgram took his study to another university not as reputable as Yale the
compliance rate dropped to 48% rather than 65% in Yale
Liberating Effects of Group Influence
- Milgram captured the liberating effects of conformity when he got 2 confederates to defy
the experimenter and the real subjects didn’t continue 90% of them
Behavior and Attitudes
- Attitudes fail to determine behavior when external influences override inner convictions
- Compliance breeds acceptance
The Power of the Situation
- Immediate situational forces are powerful
- Situations can cause people to do bad things
What Predicts Conformity?
- Conformity is highest when the group has 3 or more people, cohesive, unanimous and
high in status
- Also highest when the response is public and made without any prior commitment
Group Size
- Asch and other researchers found that 3-5 people will elicit more conformity than just
one or 2
- Milgram did field study where 1,2,3,4,5,10,15 people pause on a busy sidewalk and look
up and the % of people that looked up increased as the number of people looking up
- 2 groups of 3 people elicit more conformity than 1 group of 6
- Someone who punctures a groups unanimity deflates its social power
- It is easier to stand for something when someone else is there to stand up with you
- People will always voice their displeasure if there is a another person in the same boat
- The more cohesive a group is the more power it gains over its members
- Group members who feel attracted to the group are more responsive to its influence
- Higher status people tend to have more impact
- US study of jaywalking showed the jaywalking decreased when there was a non-
jaywalking confederate from 25% to 17%
- Milgram reported in his obedience studies that people of lower status accepted the
experimenters commands more readily than people of higher status
Public Response
- People conform more when they must respond publicly in front of others rather than
writing their answer privately
- Easier to stand up for what we believe in the privacy of a voting booth rather than before
a group
No Prior Commitment