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Chapter 9

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Normative Social Influence, Bulimia Nervosa, Social Influence


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 215
Professor
Mark Baldwin
Chapter
9

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Chapter 9 summary
Social influence
Social influence: the many ways people affect one another, including changes in
attitudes, beliefs, feelings and behavior resulting from the comments, actions, or
even the mere presence of others.
E.g., parents trying to shape our values, or even just smiling at someone to
show them that you like what they are doing vs. frowning at them if you do
not like what they are doing
E.g., Tattoos (implicit social influence—“look at how nice her tattoo is”;
explicit social influence—“you should get one too”)
Patterns hold through three degrees of social influence:
Family members or friends
Friend of a friend
Friend of a friend of a friend
Affects us partly through genes and partly through association with people
who are like us (homophily)
Nickerson, 2008: encouraged one member of the house to vote, which indirectly
affected the other family members who had not been in contact with the researcher
Fowler & Christakis, 2010: game involving real money where goal is to see whether
people will act in favor of their self-interest (played many rounds)
Results: Altruism of a given participant depended on the selfishness or
altruism of his/her teammates in the previous round
Participants were strangers, so the results were due to social influence (not
homophily or genetics)
Three types of social influence:
Conformity (most familiar type of social influence): changing one’s behavior
or beliefs in response to explicit or implicit pressure (real or imagined) from
others
Implicit: Fashion trends, example of facing backwards in an elevator
because everyone else is doing so, etc.
Explicit: encourages a friend to start smoking, to go clubbing, etc.
Compliance: responding favorably to an explicit request by another person
From authority figures (parent asks you to run an errand) or peers
(classmate asks to borrow your notes)
However, much easier when the person has some kind of power in
your life (e.g., your teacher asking to borrow 20$ vs. a stranger asking
to borrow 20$)
Obedience: in an unequal power relationship, submitting to the demands of
the person in authority
Demand rather than request
Conformity
Some types of conformity are bad (e.g., trying out a new drug)
Some types are beneficial because:
We don’t have to think for ourselves 100% of the time
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Eliminates potential conflict between individuals and makes interaction
easier
Sherif’s experiment: autokinetic illusion (study with dark room, one spot of light,
and participants must guess how far the spot has travelled but have no frame of
reference)
When participants called out their estimates in the presence of other
participants, their answers tended to converge whereas if they did not know
the estimates of the others, their answers differed much more
Information social influence: the influence of other people that results from
taking their comments or actions as a source of information about what is
correct, proper, or effective
Asch’s experiment: participants had to determine which of the three lines was the
same length as the target line. Done in a group of 8 people where only one is a
participant and the others are confederates. At one point, the confederates all give
the wrong answer even though the right answer is extremely clear and easy.
Results: ¾ of participants conformed even when they knew that the answer
was wrong
Normative social influence: the influence of other people that comes from the
desire to avoid their disapproval and other social sanctions (ridicule, barbs,
ostracism)
Informational influence leads to internalization of the position taken, whereas
normative influence does not
Bulimia and social influence (Crandall, 1988): the more bulimic a woman’s friends
are, the more bulimic she is likely to be. They were friends before they became
bulimic, so the reason for the friendship was not because they were both bulimic—
they just influenced each other’s behaviors. Those who were not as bulimic or more
bulimic than their friends tended to be less popular in their group.
Majority does not always prevail in conformity pressures (e.g., the acceptance of
same-sex marriage, abolishment of slavery, feminism, etc.)
Moscovici, Lage, & Naffrechoux (1969): participants had to state whether
they thought a color was green or blue (the boundary was not clear). When
tested alone, they almost always said blue. When minority confederates
varied their answers between green and blue, the answers of the participants
did not change. When the minority said green consistently, the participants
said green a little bit more often. Afterwards, the participants had to identify
the beginning of green and the ending of blue on a spectrum. Those who
were exposed to a consistent minority said more green. Thus, a minority has
an effect on a majority when it is consistent.
Minorities have an effect primarily through informational social influence
Mimicry
Automatic mimicry: imitating others’ behavior (generally nonconsciously)
Chartrand & Bargh, 1999: participants took part in 10 minutes sessions
where they had to describe pictures in the presence of another participant
(confederate). First session: confederate rubbed his race a lot. Second
session: other confederate shakes feet.
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Results: participants mimicked behavior of confederates
Mimicry often happens when people want to be liked by the person they are
mimicking or feel the need to connect with others
Reasons for mimicry:
Ideomotor action (William James): the phenomenon whereby merely
thinking about a behavior makes performing it more likely
Brain regions responsible for perception overlap with those
responsible for action
We see others behave in a particular way, so we think about it, so we
do it
Preparing for interaction with a particular person or group of people
People only adopt behaviors of people in different social groups if
they have positive attitudes toward them
People tend to like those who act more like them
More likely to engage in prosocial behavior directly after the
interaction, like donating money to someone who was
mimicking your behavior
Cultural differences
Sanchez-Burks, Bartel, and Blount (2009): Interviewed both Anglo-American
and Hispanic-American middle managers in a large corporation. Participants
had a chance to win a large prize if they performed well. In one condition,
interviewer mimicked interviewee’s behavior. In other condition,
interviewer did not mimick interviewee’s behavior.
Results: Hispanic participants reported feeling less anxious in the
condition where the interviewer mimicked them. There was no
difference between both conditions for Anglo-Americans.
Factors affecting conformity pressure
Group size: the larger the group, the stronger the influence
Asch’s study: this was true up until the group reached three or four people,
then it became irrelevant whether there were 5 people or 20 people; the
effect was the same
The more people there are, the more one stands to displease
Group unanimity: if the participant is not the only one to deviate from the norm
In Asch’s study, if every confederate but one gave the wrong answer, then the
participant was more likely to give the right answer because they were not
alone.
Even if the ally does not necessarily give the correct answer, the fact that the
participant is not the only one deviating from the norm has a major effect on
their behavior
Anonymity: if the group knows that someone deviated from the norm without
knowing exactly who this person is, then the participant doesn’t risk disapproval
Expertise and status: if you believe that others are more capable or qualified than
you are to answer a particular question correctly, then you will take their word for it
Expertise: leads to informational influence
Status: leads to normative influence
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