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Chapter 6

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PSYC 215
Donald Taylor

PSYC215 Chapter 6 Notes Definitions: Conformity: A chance in behaviour or belief to accord with others Compliance: Conformity that involves publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing Obedience: Acting in accord with a direct order Acceptance: Conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure Autokinetic Phenomenon: Self (auto) motion (kinetic). The apparent movement of a stationary point of light in the dark. Perhaps you have experienced this when thinking you have spotted a moving satellite in the sky, only to realize later that it was merely an isolated star Confederate: An accomplice of the experimenter Cohesiveness: A “we feeling” – the extent to which members of a group are bound together, such as by attraction for one another Normative Influence: Conformity based on a person’s desire to fulfill others’ expectations, often to gain acceptance Informative Influence: Conformity that results from accepting evidence about reality provided by other people Reactance: A motive to protect or restore one’s sense of freedom. Reactance arise when someone threatens our freedom of action Chapter Notes:  Conformity can be at times bad (when it leads to someone to drink and drive), at times good (when it inhabits people from cutting in front of us in a line), and at times inconsequential (when it disposes tennis plays to wear white)  The word “conformity” carries a negative value judgment because we come from a Western culture that doesn’t prize submitting to peer pressure. Thus, reflecting on the individualistic culture, we give it negative labels (conformity, submission, compliance) rather than positive ones (communal sensitivity, responsiveness, cooperative team play)  In Japan, going along with others is a sign not of weakness but of tolerance, self-control, and maturity  The moral is that we choose labels to suit our values and judgments. Labels both describe and evaluate, and they are inescapable  Conformity is not just acting as other people act; it is also being affected by how they act. It is acting differently from the way you would act alone. Thus conformity is a change in behaviour or belief to accord with others  There are three types of conformity: o Compliance: sometimes we conform to an expectation or request without really believing in what we are doing. This outward conformity is compliance o Obedience: we comply primarily to reap a reward or avoid a punishment. If our compliance is an explicit command, we call it obedience o Acceptance: sometimes we genuinely believe in what the group has persuaded us to do. This sincere, inward conformity is called acceptance. Acceptance sometimes follows compliance  Attitudes follow behaviour. Unless we feel no responsibility for our behaviour, we usually become sympathetic to what we have stood up for  Sherif used an autokietic phenomenon test on a men to see if he would conform through compliance or acceptance by judging the distance a light moved in a dark room individually, then with two other individuals  Robert Jacobs and Donald Campbell studied the transmission of false beliefs. Having a confederate judge a distance, then leave to be followed by another real subject, over five generations, these people had become “unwitting conspirators in perpetuating a cultural fraud.” The less of these experiences is that our views of reality are not ours alone  In everyday life, suggestibility is sometimes amusing. When one person yawns or sneezes, another person follows along and does the same. Comedy show laugh tracks capitalize on our suggestibility. In this sense, just being around happy people can help us feel happier, a phenomenon known as “mood linkage.”  Another form of social contagion is called “the chameleon effect” where if an individual shakes or rubs her leg and you follow suit, it would be an automatic behaviour done without any conscious intention to conform, and it would incline you to feel what the other feels. This form of mimicry would also incline the other person to like you and be helpful to you and to others  People become more likely to help pick up dropped pens for someone whose behaviour has mimicked their own. Being mimicked seems to enhance social bonds, which even leads to donating more money to a charity  Suggestibility can also occur on a large scale and is not always so amusing. An example comes from a book where the antagonists dresses in a conspicuous way and eventually commits suicide. Men in real life started dressing like the antagonist and suicide of young men increased. This imitative suicidal behaviour was described as the “Wether effect” where suicides, along with fatal auto accidents and private airplane crashes increase after well-publicized suicides  Asch’s experiment demonstrated that most people tell the truth even when others do not but that underlying feels of conformity will always be there  Milgram’s obedience studies are famous for showing what happens when the demands of authority clash with the demands of conscience. Using the learner and teacher pair, the learner (confederate) would receive increasing shocks up to 450V. The teacher complied 63-65% in various variables due to four prods: o Please continue o The experiment requires that you continue o It is absolutely essential that you continue o You have no other choice; you must go on  The results of obedience from his subjects were disturbing to both Milgram and the public  The determining factors which breed obedience stems from: the victim’s emotional distance, the authority’s closeness and legitimacy, whether or not the authority is institutionalized, and the liberating effects of a disobedient fellow participant o Victim’s distance: participants acted with greatest obedience and least compassion when the “learners” could not be seen (and could not see them). On the positive side, people act most compassionately toward those who are personalized o Closeness and legitimacy of the authority: the physical presence of the experimenter also affected obedience. If giving instructions over the phone instead of face-to-face, obedience level will drop. Furthermore, the authority must be perceived as legitimate. Individuals posing as confederates who try to take over the “real” experimenter’s job will be facing more protest from the “teacher” o Institutional authority: if the prestige of the authority is important, then perhaps the institutional prestige where the study is being conducted legitimized the commands o Liberating effects of a disobedient fellow participant: While these classic experiments give us a negative view of conformity, conformity can also be constructive. Events like 911 where heroic figures rushed to save people were partly because of obeying their superiors, and partly conforming to extraordinary group loyalty. In the case of the experiment, when the teacher had two confederates who refused the experimenter’s orders, the teacher also refused and liberated through group influence  The obedience studies also differ from the other conformity studies in the strength of the social pressure: obedience is explicitly commanded. Without the coercion, people did not act cruelly. However, the studies did show certain commonalities. They show how compliance can take precedence over moral sense. They succeeded in pressuring people to go against their own conscience. They sensitized us to moral conflicts in our own lives  Obedience studies illustrated and affirm some familiar social psychological principles: the link between behaviour and attitudes, the power of the situation, and the strength of the fundamental attribution error  Recalling from Chapter 4, attitudes fail to determine behaviour when external influences override inner convictions. In the case of the obedience study, Milgram believes the foot-in-the- door principle may have attributed to the “teachers” continuing the experiment because at 300V, they had already delivered 22 shocks, and this reduced some of their dissonance in comparison with them starting at 330V and told to go from there  Compliance breed acceptance, even that of things which goes against one’s own morals  This chapter’s most important lesson is that immediate situation forces are powerful and this reveals the strength of the social context  In the power of the situation, most people can think about what their behaviour will be, but when in reality, few act out the actual behaviors. The power of normative pressures and how hard it is to predict behaviour, even our own behaviour holds true people all around the world  Evil results from a few bad apples. In real life, evil results from social forces – from the heat, humidity, and disease that make a whole barrel of apples go bad. The example of US and Canadian s
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