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PSY220H5 (98)
Chapter 6

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Virginia K Walker

Chapter 6: Conformity What is conformity?  Is it good or bad? No scientific answer o At times bad (leads someone to drink and drive) and good (standing up against bullying) and sometimes inconsequential (wearing a school uniform)  In individualistic (western) cultures, submitting to peer pressure not admired, thus conformity carries negative value judgment  Conformity not just acting as other people act but also being affected by how they act o Acting/thinking differently from the way you would act and think if you were along o Conformity: change in behaviour or belief to accord with others o Key is whether your behaviour would be the same apart from the group  Varieties of conformity o Compliance: conformity that involves publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing  Outward conformity is compliance o Obedience: acting in accord with direct order  Comply primarily to reap reward or to avoid punishment o Acceptance: conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure  Inward conformity  Acceptance sometimes follows compliance Classic Conformity and Obedience Studies Sherif’s Studies of Norm Formation  Muzafer Sherif- whether it was possible to observe emergence of social norm in laboratory o Isolate and then experiment with social phenomenon of norm formation  Assessing suggestibility regarding seeming movement of light  Autokinetic phenomenon: self (auto) motion (kinetic); apparent movement of stationary pint of light in dark  “mood linkage” (Totterdell) being around happy people can help us feel happier  “chameleon effect” (Chartrand and Bargh)- automatic behaviour done without any conscious intention to conform  Your mimicry would inclide other person to like you and be helpful to you and others o Being mimicked seems to enhance social bonds  David Phillips confirmed imitative suicidal behaviour called “werther effect”- imitating suicide of famous novel character Solomon Asch’s studies of group pressure (conformity)  Agreement with other’s obviously wrong perceptual judgment  Some people never conformed, three-quarters did so at least once  These experiments lacked mundane realism of everyday conformity but had experimental realism o People became emotionally involve in experience Milgram’s Obedience Studies  Complying with commands to shock another  65% went all the way to 450 volts  Participant’s self-concepts may have been altered What breeds obedience?  Four factors that determine level of obedience: The victim’s distance -Milgram’s participants acted with greatest obedience and least compassion when “learner” couldn’t be seen -easiest to abuse someone who is distant or depersonalized -Heinrich Himmler (architect of genocide): invented gas chamber “more human” killing that would visually separate killers and victims -i.e. pictures on anti-abortion posters as a way of personalizing Authority’s closeness and legitimacy -physical presence of experimenter affected obedience -other studies confirmed that when the one making the request is physically close, compliance increases -authority must be perceived as legitimate -i.e. nurse scam (so called “doctor” on phone orders nurse to give lethal amounts of drugs -i.e. fast food restaurant managers told by “police” on phone to strip-search Whether or not authority was part of respected -prestige of authority institution -Milgram conducted experiment at Yale Liberating effects of disobedient fellow participant -i.e. time you felt angry at unfair teacher but you hesitated to object until someone else did Reflections on Classic Studies Behaviour and Attitudes  Attitudes fail to determine behaviour when external influences override inner convictions  Step-by-step entrapment of foot-in-the-door phenomenon o Milgram- first shock given was 15 volts and increas
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