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PSYC 260 (45)
Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Conformity

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Simon Fraser University
PSYC 260
Janelle Jones

PSYC 260 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 7 – Conformity Conformity – a change in behavior as a result of the real or imagined influence of other people Information 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 - The behavior of other people is useful and powerful source of knowledge - Sherif and the autokinetic effect – estimates when alone and when in a group - Private Acceptance – conforming to other people’s behaviors out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right - Public Compliance – complying to other people’s behavior publicly, without necessarily believing in what they are doing or saying Kinds of situations that is most likely to produce conformity… 1. Ambiguous Situations o i.e. when a fire alarm in a building goes off, what do you do? You will look if others are panicking, or calm, and use this as information about the ‘fire’ 2. Crises o In a crisis, we usually do not have time to stop and think about exactly which course of action we should take o Contagion – the rapid transmission of emotions or behavior through a crowd 3. Situations in which an Expert is Present o i.e. over the course of their post-secondary education, social sciences students became more liberal in their views , whereas engineering students became more conservative—the students’ attitudes had changed as a result of informational social influence – in this case, the information they learned from their professors in these courses When Informational Conformity backfires… - Using others as a source of information can be dangerous; if other people are misinformed, we will adopt their mistakes and misinterpretations - 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 i.e. result of anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms Normative Social Influence: The Need to be Accepted - Defined as… the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them - Results in public compliance with the group’s beliefs and behaviors but not necessarily private acceptance - Social Norms – the implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviors, values, and beliefs of its members - Jeer pressure – groups use ridicule as means of punishing group members who fail to comply with group norms - Asch’s Line Judgment Study o 76% of participants conformed on at least one trial o On average, people conformed on one-third (4) of the 12 trials in which the accomplices gave the wrong answer o We do not want to risk social disapproval, even from complete strangers o With an ally: people only conformed on 6% of the trials, as compared to 32% in the version when all confederates gave the wrong answer Social Impact Theory – the likelihood that you will respond to social influence from others depend on three variables 1. Strength – how important is the group to you? o Normative pressures are much stronger when they come from people whose friendships, love, and respect we cherish o When we are attracted to a group and are reminded that we don’t quite fit in, we are especially motivated to conform 2. Immediacy – how close is the group to you in space and time during the influence attempt? 3. Number – how many people are in the group? o Conformity increases as the number of people in a group increases – up to a point  Going from 3 to 4 members has a greater influence vs. going from 52 to 53 members - Predicts that conformity will increase as strength and immediacy increase - Normative social influence is most powerfully felt when everyone in the group says or believes the same thing Gender Differences in Conformity - Men are less easily influenced than women, but the size of the difference is very small - Depends on the type of conformity pressures impinging on people - Pattern of results may stem from the social roles men and women are taught in our society - The gender of the experimenters conducting conformity studies make a difference too Idiosyncrasy Credits – the credits a person earns, over time, by conforming
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