CHAPTER 8: SOCIAL INFLUENCE: NORMS, CONFORMTIY, COMPLIANCE, AND
Social norms= unspoken but shared rules of conduct in a formal or informal
Conformity= the tendency to change our perceptions. It is a change in
behaviour or beliefs as a result of real or imagined pressure from others
(Kiesler & Kiesler).
HOW DO SOCIAL NORMS INFLUENCE BEHAVIOUR
Miller & Mcfarland- ask participants to read article for a discussion (written
incomprehensible). Completed survey > assumed 37% of other students
asked researcher for help. No one did.
The power of social norms:
Influence values, beliefs and behaviours. Serve as helpful guides to
appropriate behaviour. Descriptive norms (describe how people behave in
a given situation). Injunctive norms (describe what people ought to do).
Salganik, Dodds and Watts- Simply knowing how many other people had
downloaded a song influenced how likely others were to download it >
social norms influence music ratings.
People more likely to acquire norms when they’re in new situations.
Callun & Harton- Uni students attitudes become more similar to those
closest to them.
Errors in perceiving social norms:
Katz & Allport- Pluralistic Ignorance= type of norm misperception that
occurs when each individual in the group privately rejects the groups’
norm but believes that other accept these norms.
Vorauer & Ratner- study shows how pluralistic ignorance can interfere
with the formation of a relationship as each person assumes the other
Darley & Messinger- misperceiving the thinness norm can lead to eating
The pressure to conform to social norms:
Krunglanski & Webster- pressure to conform is powerful because
deviation from the norm often leads to experience of negative
Schachter- found people liked the ‘deviate’ least.
Janes & Olson- found that those who watched the tape that ridiculed the
other person conformed to what they thought were the ratings of other
students and rated the cartoon as very funny.
Goldstein- found 75% of guests who were asked to participate in new
resources savings program helped by using their towels more than once. Mutterperl & Sanderson- Telling uni students that other women on
campus eat and weigh more than the former might believe > reduces
symptoms of eating disorders.
WHAT FACTORS LEAD TO CONFORMITY
Informational Influence= influence that produces conformity when a
person believes others are correct in their judgements and the person
wants to be right. Occurs in a new situation.
Sherif- used the autokinetic effect (when a stationary dot of light is shown
on the wall in dark room dot appears to move even though it doesn’t).
Study demonstrated private conformity= when people rethink their original
views and potentially change their minds to match what the group thinks.
The need to be accepted > Normative Influence= the influences that
produces conformity when a person fears the negative social
consequences of appearing deviant and wants to be liked and accepted.
Asch- participants alone: <1% gave wrong answers, in groups: 23% gave
correct answers, 77% gave at least one wrong answer, 32% gave 7+
Asch- this study revealed public conformity.
MacNeil & Sherif- study of transition of norms from generation to generation;
completing 30 judgement trials and keep replacing one of the confederates
with a new norm.
FACTORS THAT INCREASE CONFORMITY
Group of 4 better at increasing conformity than 2, but 17 is not better than
Bassili- found people who held a minority opinion expressed their views
Social impact theory= people we are close to have more impact on us.
Tafarodi- second generation immigrants tend to want to feel part of the
Taking the lone deviant position. In Asch’s experiment when another
person in the group gave the truthful answer the pressure to conform was
When a group appears unanimous it’s at its strongest.
Demographic Variables; Varying characteristics of an individual, sample, group or population. I.e.
age and gender.
Conformity at its highest in adolescence.
Women more likely than men to agree with others in group and less likely
to dissent from group. But both are likely to conform in unfamiliar
Guadagno & Cialdini- type of persuasion strategy used > women more
influence by face-to-face.
Task Importance > easy tasks people don’t need to look to group
members for answer, but do for harder tasks.
Nature of task (ambiguity and difficulty)
THE POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CONFORMITY
Conforming to basic social norms is required if we want to live an orderly
society > citizens are expecting a certain level of conformity.
Moscovici- argues that minority influence the behaviour or beliefs of the
majority > the key is consistency.
Dissenters are more effective if they are; independent thinkers, persistent and
CONFORMITY ACROSS CULTURES
Versions of Asch’s experiments have been replicated in more than a dozen
Individualistic cultures % errors: British unemployed blacks 39%, Us
students 37%, Dutch students 24%, British students 17%, Belgian
Collectivistic cultures % errors: Indian teachers 58%, Japanese sports
club members 51%, Lebanese 31%, Japanese students 25%, Kuwaiti
Higher levels of inter-dependent self (those that identify highly with their
group) > Increases conformity.
Triandis- Hunting and gathering societies and upper social segments of
industrial societies are low in conformity.
Triandis- Agricultural societies and lower social segments of industrial
societies are high in conformity.
Berry- Berry’s study: correlated the degree of independence (low conformity)
with the sample’s position on an ecocultural dimension > he found a
correlation of .70 between ecocultural dimension of self-reliance and
independence or nonconformity. THE POWER OF MINORITY INFLUENCE
Minority Influence= a process in which a small number of people in a group
lead an overall change in the groups attitudes or behaviour
Moscovici= (reversed the Asch paradigm by having minority of 2 confederates
influence majority). Used 36 coloured slides > found minority influence is more
lasting than the behavioural conformity produced in the studies on majority
influence. Demonstrates differ