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PSYC 100 Chapter Notes -Attachment Theory, Physical Attractiveness, Social Facilitation

Course Code
PSYC 100
Ingrid Johnsrude

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Social Influence on Behaviour 6/5/2012 7:05:00 AM
Social Influence
Examines the ways in which people exert influence on the
behaviours and attitudes of others.
o Persuasion
We adjust our beavhiours or thinking to coincide with a group norm
o Helps to function safely and effectively
Traffic laws
Waiting in line
Can have negative consequences
o Tormenting other kids because everyone else is doing it
The Autokinetic Effect
o Norms develop in small groups
o Experiment using light in a dark room, participant would say
whether they thought the light had moved. The light never
moved but the optical illusion was autokinetic effect
o Developed their own personal standard and consistently
reporting the same amount of movement
o After, new participants were added with the old participants
and both were making estimates, gradually people within
groups made a common estimate
Group norm developed
Line Judgments
o Test how peoples beliefs effect the beliefs of others
o Wanted to see if conformity existed in situations where there
was an objective truth
Participants had to compare 1 line with 3 others to
which was the same length
Only one real participant, the others were planned
Each participant had to wait for each person to provide
their response before they could give theirs

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76% conformed to the wrong answer to the people in
front of them at least once
Reasons for Conformity
o Informational influence
People conform because they believe others are correct
in their judgments
In the tests, it was natural to assume that several
people are more knowledgeable than one
o Normative influence
People conform because they fear the consequences of
appearing deviant
Types of Conformity
o Private conformity
When a person experiences changes in both overt (open
and intentional) behaviours and beliefs
Informational influence
o Public conformity
When a person demonstrates superficial change in open
behaviour only
Normative influence
Autokinetic Effect-> Informational Influence-> Private Conformity
(not obvious answer, relying on others for knowledgeable
Line Judgments-> Normative Influence-> Public Conformity
(obvious answer, avoiding unpleasant situation and standing out)
Defined as a change in behaviour produced by the commands of
o We are socialized to believe that it is wrong to disrespect
authority figures
Milgram Studies
Based on Nazi war crimes and “following orders”

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o Provided electric shocks to people if they made a mistake on
a learning task
o Switches were labeled and increased with danger
o People weren’t really shocked, but if they were told to do it
they would go as far as they were told
Factors that influence obedience
Proximity of authority figure
The closer the authority figure, the greater
the obedience (face to face vs. different
Distance from victim
The greater the distance, the easier the
Legitimacy of authority figure
Obedience was highest when the authority
figure had a high status
Dissenting Allies
If others refused, then obedience fell
Incremental requests
Easier to be obedient in small increments
Authority’s acceptance of responsibility
Obedience dropped when participants were
responsible for the victim
Studies brought ethical concerns
A change in behaviour elicited by a direct response from another
individual who is not an authority figure
o Eg. Agreeing to help out a friend, helping students with an
o Donating to charity
People take advantage of agreeable nature and use techniques to
increase the likelihood of complying
o Influences
Consistency and Commitment
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