PSYC241 Chapter 8: Conformity

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PSYC241 – Chapter 8: Conformity: Influencing Behaviour
Conformity: a change in one’s behaviour due to the real or imagined influence of other
people
Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What’s “Right”
-Informational Social Influence: we conform because we believe that others
interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more correct than ours and will help us
choose an appropriate course of action
oIf we believe others are doing something, we are much more likely to do it
ourselves
- People use each other as a source of information, often coming to believe that the
group consensus is the right one
-Private Acceptance: conforming to other peoples behaviour out of a genuine
belief that what they are doing or saying is right
-Public Compliance: conforming to other people’s behaviour publicly without
necessarily believing in what the other people are doing or saying
The Importance of Being Accurate
- The more important the decision is for us, the more we will rely on other people
for information and guidance
When Informational Conformity Backfires
-Contagion: the rapid spread of emotions or behaviours through a crowd
- Depending on others to help us define the situation can sometimes lead to serious
inaccuracies
-Mass Psychogenic Illness: the occurrence, in a group of people, of similar
physical symptoms with no known physical cause
oEx. Teacher thought she smelled gas and began to experience nausea and
headaches. Soon 170 students/teachers began to believe they too had the
symptoms, even though nothing was actually causing them
When Will People Conform to Informational Social Influence?
- When the situation is ambiguous (most crucial)
- When the situation is a crisis (no time for rational, copy others)
- When other people are experts (we tend to look for how experts in a situation act,
but they too might be acting inaccurately)
Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted
- Often Public compliance over private acceptance
-Social Norms: the implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable
behaviours, values, and beliefs of its members
- We conform because we are naturally social creatures and have a need to be liked
and accepted by other people. Not conforming can lead to ridicule, etc.
-Normative Social Influence: the influence of other people that leads us to
conform in order to be liked and accepted by them; this type of conformity results
in public compliance with the group’s beliefs and behaviours but not necessarily
private acceptance of those beliefs and behaviours
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