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Chapter 8

Chapter 8- Conformity.docx

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PSYC 241
Tara Mac Donald

CH 8 CONFORMITY Nov/8/11 1. Informational Social Influence Why do we conform? - Conformity changing one’s behaviour due to the real or imagined influence of others Informational social influence - Informational social influence: conforming because we believe that others’ interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more accurate than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of action. Dot experiment Muzafer Sherif - You are seated alone in a dark room and asked to focus your attention on a dot of light and you’re asked to estimate in inches how far the light moves - The light disappears and comes back and you’re asked to judge how much it moves - The light isn’t actually moving – it was an illusion where if you stare at a bright light in dark environment, it will appear to waver back and forth because you don’t have a stable reference point to anchor the light’s position. - The distance the light ‘moves’ varies from person to person but is stable for each person ondr time - In the 2 phase of the experiment, participants were paired with 2 other people who had the same prior experience with the light and all 3 made judgements out loud. - Over several trials, people reached a common estimate and each person conformed. Types of Conformity Private acceptance - This can lead to private acceptance when people conform to the behaviour because they genuinely believe that others are right. Public conformance o Compare this to public conformance: conforming without actually believing what the group is saying or doing The need to be accurate - Ps asked to pick perpetrators out of lineups Eyewitness identification task - For each of the 13 tasks, participants shown a slide of a man (perpetrator) and then a lineup of 4 men - In the lineup, the perpetrator was dressed differently and the task was difficult because Ps only saw slide for half a second o High importance condition: Those who scored the highest received $20 o Low importance: Ps were told the study was a first attempt to study eyewitness identification and the slide task was still being developed - High importance decisions makes you more susceptible to informational social influence - In the low condition, Ps conformed and gave the same wrong answers on 35% of the trials whereas in the high importance condition, Ps conformed on 51% of the trials. African American teenager + Stolen Car Task - 4 Ps in a session sat at a monitor in the same room and read a controversial Buehler & Griffin incident about an African American teenager driving a stolen car was shot and killed by white police men - Asked to interpret the situation : how fast was the victim’s car going? Was the victim trying to ram the car? o Do you agree that the police was 75% responsible, the victim 25% responsible? - 3 Ps said yes - When a computer crash was faked, Ps were given a 2 chance to answer and this time, 40% said yes - Those who agreed changed their interpretations to be consistent with the group: victim hadn’t threatened the police and the police lives weren’t put in danger - Those who didn’t conform changed their interpretations by said victim’s car was about to ram the police and the police was in fear of their lives. - People changed their interpretations of reality to bolster their decision whether to agree with the majority opinion. When Informational - When one’s personal safety is involved, the need for information is acute Conformity Backfires War of the Worlds - Broadcast a radio play based on War of the Worlds and at this time, radio was Orson Welles the only source for breaking news - So realistic that at least a million listeners became frightened and alerted the police - Many listeners missed the beginning because they had been listening to the nation’s top-rated show, so they didn’t hear it was a play - Many people were listening with friends and family and saw concern on others’ faces - Listeners misinterpreted actual events so they fit the news on the radio (e.g. looking out the window and there were a lot of cars = escaping people) Contagion - Contagion is how emotions and behaviour can spread rapidly through a crowd Mass Psychogenic illness - Mass psychogenic illness: occurrence of similar physical symptoms with no known physical cause When do people conform? 1. When the situation is ambiguous - Unsureness makes you rely on others o Ex. My Lai, soldiers were young and unexperienced 2. Situation is a crisis - Need to act immedietly, so you don’t have time to think o It was difficult to tell if people were civilians or combatants in Vietnam, so when one soldier fired, others followed 3. When others are experts - The more expertise a person has, the more valuable as a guide they’ll be 2. Normative Social Influence: the need to be - We conform to the group’s social norms, which are implicit rules for acceptable accepted behaviors, values and beliefs Normative social - Normative social influence occurs when the influence of other people leads us influence to conform to be liked and accepted by them. This results in public compliance with group’s beliefs but not necessarily in private acceptance. Line judgment studies Solomon Asch - Ps were told this was an experiment on perceptual judgment - The experimenter shows everyone 2 cards, one with a single line on it, the other with 3 lines labeled 1,2, and 3 - You give your answer and everyone gives the same answer - When your mind starts to wander, the experimenter presents another set of linds but the first Ps announces the correct answer is line 1, followed by the 2 person - 76%of the Ps conformed on at least one trial - It wasn’t like the situation was ambiguous but the fear of being the lone dissenter was so strong that people conformed at least occasionally. Biological evidence of Normative Social Influence Gregory Berns - Used fMRI to examine the alterations in brain activity of research Ps as they conformed or maintained their independence and disagreed with the group - Ps were shown an image of a 3D figure and asked if a second figure (rotated in a different direction) was the same as the first figure or different - Before being placed in the fMRI, Ps interacted with 4 Ps - During the task, the Ps completed one-third of the trials with no knowledge of the answers of the other 4, on the remaining 2/3 the Ps saw the 4 group members’ answers on a display - ½ the time, the group had all chosen the wrong answer - Ps conformed to the wrong answers 41% of the time - On the baseline trials, Ps fMRI had brain activity in the posterior brain areas dedicated to vision and perception - When conforming to wrong answers, activation occurred in the same area - When giving the right answer, the visual/perceptual areas weren’t activated and the amygdala (negative emotions) and caudate nucleus (social behaviour) were activated Eyewitness Identification Baron - Ps viewed each slide for 5 s and shown each slide twice to make it easy, the controls answered correctly 97% of the time - Half thought it was very important they give the right answers and the other half did not - Found that low importance condition conformed on 33% - High importance condition conformed on only 16% Resisting Normative Social Influence Juvenile delinquent experiment - Groups of college students read and discussed a case history of ‘Johnny Rocco’, Stanley Schachter a juvenile delinquent. - Most students believed Rocco should receive a mixture of love and discipline - An accomplice was instructed to disagree with the group and argued Rocco should receive the harshest amount of punishment - He received the most comments and questions from real Ps throughout the discussion until near the end, communication dropped sharply. - When they tried to convince the deviant to agree, and he didn’t, they ignored him. In addition, they punished him when filling out forms that asked to nominate a member who should be eliminated from further discussion, they nominated him. As well, when assigning jobs, they gave the deviant unimportant or boring jobs. Idiosyncrasy credits - Idiosyncrasy credits: the tolerance a person earns over time by conforming that when they behave on occasion deviantly, they won’t get into too much trouble. When will people conform to Normative social influence? Latane - Social impact theory: the likelihood that you’ll respond to social influence from other people depends on 3 variables: 1. Strength - How important to you is the group? - Normative pressures are stronger when they come from people hose friendship, love, and respect we cherish because there’s a large cost to losing this love and respect 2. Immediacy - How close is the group to you in space and time during the attempt to influence you? 3. Number - How many people are in the group? - Predicts that conformity will increase as strength and immediacy increase - However, as number increases, each additional person has less of an influencing effect o Ex. A group of 3-4 makes more of a difference than going from 53 to 54.] o Once the number of people reaches 4-5 people, conformity doesn’t increase much - Having an ally helped the subject resist normative pressures where people conformed only 6% of the trials with an ally compared to 32% percent Collectivistic Culture - The society that one is raised in affects the frequency of normative social influence - Participants in collectivistic cultures showed higher rates of conformity on the line task than Ps in individualistic cultures. - J.W. Berry compared 2 cultures that had very different strategies for accumulating food. Hypothesized that societies that relied on hunting would value independence, assertiveness, and adventurousness in their members. - Compared Inuit people to Temne of Sierra Leone. - Temne had a tendency to accept the suggestions of the group while the Inuit did Gender Differences in Conformity not. - Women are more conforming than men but recent studies showed that this difference was very small - Gender differences are likely to be found in group pressure situations where an audience can directly observe how much you conform - When facing social pressure, women are more likely to conform than men - In our society, women are taught to be agreeable and supportive Minority Influence - The individual or the minority of group members can influence the behaviour or Serge Moscovici beliefs of the majority. - If the minority expresses a consistent, unwavering view, the majority is likely to take notice and may even adopt the minority view. o If a minority of scientists began to raise concerns about global warming, today the majority is paying attention. - Majorities often achieve private compliance because of normative social influence whereas minorities often achieve private acceptance because of informational social influence. 3. Using Social Influence to Promote Beneficial Behavior - First we need to focus on what kind of norm is operating in the situation, then
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