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Chapter 9

TEXTBOOK Chapter 9 - Social Influence

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Emily Impett

Chapter Nine: Social Influence What is Social Influence? Social Influence: the many ways that people affect one another, including changes in attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behavior that result from the comments, actions, or even the mere presence of others.  Effective dealings with others require knowing when to yield their attempts to influence us and when and how to resist. o Being effective also demands we exercise some skill in attempts to influence others  Types of social influence: Conformity: changing one’s behavior or beliefs in response to explicit or implicit pressure (whether real or imagined) from others  Can be implicit (loose-fitting jeans to skinny jeans because everyone else does it) or explicit (peer group encourage one another to smoke) Compliance: responding favorably to an explicit request by another person  Can come from people with power over you or peers – powerful people aren’t as nuanced and sophisticated as peers because don’t have to be (if prof asked you to lend him $20 it would be easier than someone sitting next to you in class) Obedience: in an unequal power relationship, submitting to the demands of the more powerful person Conformity  Beneficial to us (don’t have to consider ever action) and to others (eliminates potential conflict making human interaction smoother) AUTOMATIC MIMICRY  We tend to reflexively mimic posture, mannerisms, facial expressions, and other actions of those around us o Study: two 10min sessions. 2 participants at a time were asked to describe photos from popular magazines. 1 participant was actually a confederate of the experimenter while the other was a real participant. In one session a confederate frequently rubbed their face while in the other they shook their food continuously. Watching the videotape afterwards participants tended to mimic (conform to) the behavior of the confederate.  Mimicking others is strong among people with an empathic orientation towards others who have a need for affiliation with people who are well liked. Why do we mimic? Ideomotor action: the phenomenon whereby merely thinking about a behavior makes its actual performance more likely.  Brain regions responsible for perception overlap with those responsible for actions. When we see others behave in a particular way, the idea of that behavior is brought to mind (consciously or otherwise) making us more likely to behave that way ourselves.  We also mimic to prepare for interaction with them – interaction will go more smoothly if we establish rapport. o People tend to like those who mimic them more than those who do not even when they aren’t aware of being mimicked. Cultural Differences in Mimicry  Being attuned to the emotions and behavior of others (sympathetically mirroring the behavior of others) is more characteristic of the Hispanic cultures than of Anglo-American cultures.  When interviewer mirrored Hispanic interview, the interview reported less anxiety and was rated more highly by observers when the interviewer didn’t do mirroring. For Anglo-American interviewees it made no difference whether the interviewer mirrored their behavior or not. INFORMATIONAL SOCIAL INFLUENCE AND SHERIF SC ONFORMITY EXPERIMENT Informational Social Influence: the influence of other people that results from taking their comments or actions as a source of information about what is correct, proper, or effective Experiment: Muzafer Sherif (1936)  Interested in how groups influence the behavior of individuals by shaping how reality is perceived and even the most basic perceptions are influenced by frames of reference.  Autokinetic illusion (stationary point of light in a completely darkened environment moves around)  Sherif thought other people would fill the void since there is no other stimuli as a reference point  Participants after being put in the darkened room, had to estimate how far the light moved each time. Some people thought it moved very little (2 inches) while others thought it moved a lot (8 inches)  When bringing several participants into the room together having them call out estimates, those who thought it moved a little raised their estimates, while people who thought it moved a lot lowered their estimates causing individual judgments to quickly fuse into a group norm.  Participants brought back a year later still showed influence of group’s earlier responses. Informational Social Influence: the influence of other people that results from taking their comments or actions as a source of information about what is correct, proper, or effective  Tendency to use others as a source of information is most pronounced when we aren’t sure if we are factually correct. o More likely to conform in a foreign country to an own, and more likely to conform to other’s views we have vague ideas of than subjects we have clear opinions about  The light actually didn’t move at all, but since the appearance was so ambiguous it appeared to move and was readily influenced by the expressed judgments of others N ORMATIVE SOCIALINFLUENCE AND ASCH SC ONFORMITY EXPERIMENT  Asch correctly predicted that when there is a clear conflict between a person’s own judgment and the judgments advanced by the group, there will be far less conformity than observed by Sherif.  Hypothesis: participants conform to opinions expressed by majority even when they know majority is incorrect  Research method: one true participant and 7 confederates asked to say which of 3 test lines was the same length as the target line  On some trials confederates unanimously responded incorrectly, making the true participant doubt his own judgments  Results: true participant conformed to erroneous majority on 1/3 of the trials  Conclusion: to avoid the disapproval of the group, many participants conformed to the judgments of the majority rather than express their own judgment Normative Social Influence: the influence of other people that comes from the individual’s desire to avoid their disapproval, harsh judgments, and other social sanctions FACTORS AFFECTING CONFORMITY PRESSURE Group Size  Conformity increases as the size of the group increases  Larger groups exert more normative influence and more informational social influence than smaller groups  In Asch’s paradigm we see as the group size reaches four people conformity rates level off – conformity increases but only to an extent  Larger number of people who have a certain opinion the more likely it has merit  Validity of info increases only if opinions are independent of one another  Larger the group more people one stands to displease Group Unanimity  Presence of ally weakens both informational social influence (maybe I’m not crazy after all) and normative social influence (at least I’ve got someone to commiserate with)  Individual breaking group unanimity doesn’t need to have the correct answer, just one different from the group’s answer. o Free speech may cause us to tolerate loathsome and obviously false statements (Holocaust never happened) – frees body politic to speak out fostering productive political discourse Expertise and Status  People grant greater status to those with special expertise, and we often assume (not always correctly) that those with high status have considerable expertise  Expertise affects informational social influence; expert more likely to be right so we take their opinions more seriously  Status affects normative social influence; disapproval of high-status individuals can hurt more than the disapproval of people we care less about Culture  Interdependent cultures – concerned about relations with others and fitting into broader social context than independent cultures  Interdependent cultures likely to be more susceptible to both informational social influence (consider actions and opinions of others more telling) and normative social influence (consider high regard of others more important)  Interdependent cultures may be expected to conform more than those from independent cultures Tight versus Loose Cultures  Tight = strong norms regarding how people should behave and do not tolerate departure from those norms  Loose = norms are not so strong and members tolerate more deviance Gender  Women raised to value interdependence and to nurture important social relationships more than men  Men raised to value and strive for autonomy and independence more than women  Women tend to conform more in stereotypically male domains, whereas men tend to conform more in stereotypically female domains – men and women tend to differ in conformity, but only slightly Difficulty (or Ambiguity) of the Task  When judgment is unambiguous and easy to make, informational social influence is virtually eliminated  Normative social influence is at work, and resistance to group is stronger  When the right thing to do is unclear, people are inclined to rely on others for guidance Anonymity Internalization: private acceptance of a proposition, orientation, or ideology  Easy tasks eliminate informational social influence, and ability to respond anonymously eliminates normative social influence  Informational social influence, by influencing how people come ot see issues or stimuli before them, influences internalization. o Don’t just mimic particular response; adopt the group’s perspective.  Normative social influence – greater impact on public compliance than on private acceptance; to avoid disapproval sometimes do/say one thing but continue to believe another The Interpretive Context or Disagreement  Why do participants care about what others think if they never saw them before and will never see them again? In Asch’s experiment: o Confront fact that everyone else saw things differently o No basis for why everyone else saw things differently  Understanding why opinions are different lessens both informational and normative influence o Information – explanation can diminish impact as source of information o Normative – we can assume that those in majority are aware of why we differ  It is difficult to act independently when we don’t know what to make of things. When we have an understanding for the reason of different judgments its easier to stand our groun
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