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Chapter 7

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PSYC 260
James Climenhage

Chapter 7: Conformity – Influencing Others Conformity: When and Why Conformity – changes in behavior as a result of the real or imagined influence of other people Researchers conclude that the tendency to conform to the behavior of others is so powerful that it can override behaviours that promote survival Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What’s “Right” Informational Social Influence – Conforming 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 Autokinetic Effect – If you stare at a bright light in a uniformly dark environment, the light will appear to waver - Occurs because you have no stable reference point to anchor the position of the light - The distance that the light appears to move varies from person to person but becomes consistent for each person over time Important feature of informational social influence is that it can lead to: - Private Acceptance – conforming to other people’s behavior out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right Public Compliance – Conforming to other people’s behavior publicly, without necessarily believing in what they are doing or saying When participants are convinced that the task is important, they are more likely to conform to the group than participants who are led to believe the task is unimportant When People Conform to Informational Social Influence There are 3 situations where people are most likely to confirm because of information social influence When situation is ambiguous When you are unsure of the correct response, the appropriate behavior, or the right idea, you wil be most open to influence from others - Research: the more uncertain you are, the more you will rely on others When the Situation is a Crisis In a crisis, we usually do not have time to stop and think about exactly which course of action we should take - The people we imitate may also feel scared and panicky, and not behave rationally - When people believe they are in a crisis situation, they are more likely to succumb to these forms of influence Contagion – the rapid transmission of emotions or behavior through a crowd 1 Psychology 260 When Other People are Experts Typically, the more expertise or knowledge a person has, the more valuable he or she will be as a guide in an ambiguous or crisis situation - But experts are not always reliable sources of information When Informational Conformity Backfires Depending on others to help us reach a definition of the situation can sometimes lead to an inaccurate definition indeed - Mass psychogenic illness – the occurrence of similar physical symptoms in a group of people for which there is no known physical or medical cause o An example of extreme and misdirected informational social influence Mass media quickly and efficiently spreads information to all segments of the population Resisting Informational Social Influence One reason that the decision about whether to conform is so important is that it influences how people define reality - If you decide to accept other people’s definition of a situation, you will come to see the world as they do - If you decide to reject other people’s definition of a situation, you will come to see the world differently from the way they do Decisions about whether to conform to informational influence, then, will affect not only people’s behavior, but also their interpretation of reality Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted Reason 1 to conform: for information Reason 2 to conform: to be liked and accepted by other people - Called Normative Social Influence – the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them o This type of conformity results in public compliance with the group’s beliefs and behaviours but not necessarily in private acceptant Through interactions with others, we receive emotional support, affection, and love, and we partake of enjoyable experiences Groups have certain expectations about how the group members should behave, and members in good standing conform to these rules, or social norms - Social Norms – the implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviours, values, and beliefs of its members - Members who do not are perceives as different, difficult, and eventually deviant 2 Psychology 260 o Deviant members can be ridiculed, punished, or even rejected by other group members Janes + Olson – groups use ridicule as a means of punishing group members who fail to comply with the group’s norms - So when we observe someone else being ridicule, we will be especially likely to go along with the group to avoid being the next target Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies Asch – people conform in situations that are highly ambiguous - Believed: when a situation was completely unambiguous, people would act like rational, objective problem solvers People know what they are doing is wrong but go along with the group even if they do not believe in what they are doing or thinking is wrong – when conforming In contrast to informational social influence, normative pressures usually result in public compliance without private acceptance Asch result – people were concerned about looking foolish in front of complete strangers Conform to avoid the risk of social disapproval Gregory Berns – used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMR) to examine the alterations in brain activity of research participants as they either normatively conformed to a groups judgment or maintained their independence and disagreed with the group - Results – when participants chose to give the right answer and thus disagree with the group and the unanimous answer – the Amidala lit up where negative emotion is store When People Conform to Normative Social Influence When people are most likely to conform to normative pressures: - Bibb Latane’s – Social Impact Theory – The theory that conforming to social influence depends on the strength of the group, its immediacy, and the number of other people in the group o So the likelihood that you will respond to social influence from other people depends on 3 variables:  Strength: How important is the group to you?  Immediacy: How close is the group to you in space and time during the influence attempt  Number: How many people are in the group o This theory predicts that conformity will increase as strength and immediacy increase o The more important a group is to us, and the more we in its presence, the more likely we will be to conform to its normative pressures 3 Psychology 260 o As the size of the group increases, each additional person has less of an influencing effect  When the group is small, adding another member will increase conformity pressure  But if the group is large, adding yet another voice to the chorus doesn’t have much effect When the Group Size Is Three or More Conformity increases as the number of people in the group increases – up to a point - But once the majority reaches about 4 or 5 in number, conformity pressures peak just as social impact theory suggests Research by Campbell and Fairey – the effects of group size depend on the kind of social influence that is operating - In situations in which the group is clearly wrong, conformity wil be motivated by normative influence  the participants will conform in order to be accepted by the group - With each person who gives the same incorrect answer, the more likely you are to conform to that incorrect answer, even if you know what the right answer is When the Group Is Important The strength – defined as how important the group is to us – makes a difference Normative pressures are much stronger when they come from people whose friendship, love, and respect we cherish, because there is a large cost to losing this love and respect - So groups to which we are highly attracted and with which we strongly identify will exert more normative influence on us than groups to which we have little or no attachment Tafarodi, Kang, and Milne – reasoned that members of bicultural visible minorities might feel that they are not fully accepted as members of the majority group because of their physical distinctiveness - These people might be especially motivated to conform to the majority in terms of dress, speech, or behavior - Hypothesized – the part
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