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Chapter 9

PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Social Proof, Normative Social Influence, Stationary Point

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

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PSYB20 Chapter 9
Social influence: the many ways people affect one another (involves changes in attitude and behav)
Three types of social influences:
1. Conformity: changing one’s behav or beliefs in response to explicit (someone told me to) or
implicit (cuz everyone does it) pressure (real or imagined) from others.
2. Compliance: responding favorably to an explicit request by another person (powerful figure can
influence much more)
3. Obedience: in an unequal power relationship, submitting (submissive) to the demands of the
more powerful person (dominant)
Automatic Mimicry – tendency to reflexively mimic the posture, mannerisms, facial expressions, and
other actions of those around us
Tendency to mimic others is strong among people who have an empathic orientation toward
others or who have a need to affiliate with other, & when others are well liked
2 reasons why we mimic:
1. Ideomotor action (William James): merely thinking about a behav makes its actual
performance more likely, cuz it primes our brain thus performance becomes more likely.
2. To prepare for (a smooth) interaction with others:
Primed with “old” – walk slower to mindlessly prepare themselves to be around the
This happens only when there’s a + attitude towards a group, when we want to
interact with those people.
Cultural differences in Mimicry – Study:
1. Hispanics are more attuned to emotions so they did better when the interviewer mimicked
their behavior.
2. For Anglo-Americans, it made no difference if they were mimicked or not
Informational Social Influence and Sherif’s Conformity Experiment
Noted tht our most basic perceptions are influenced by frames of references
Sherif investigated autokinetic illusion, the illusion that a stationary point of light in a dark
environment is moving
Sherif thought that maybe other people in a group could serve as a frame of reference against
which the viewer could assess his or her perception of the light’s movements
Study – Individual opinions diffused into a group norm – light and dot moving around
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PSYB20 Chapter 9
Informational social influence: using other ppl’s comments/actions as a course of info about
what’s likely to be right, proper or effective
We conform more when we’re unsure, or when in foreign country, or when have vague idea abt
Note: Sherif asked participants to perform something that was ambiguous, so the information
social influence was at its peak. The light didn’t move at all and this uncertainty and ambiguity
was readily influenced by other’s judgments
Normative Social Influence: desire to avoid the disapproval, criticism, or ostracism that other ppl
might deliver.
¾ of the ppt conformed to the wrong answer at least once. Reason: to avoid standing out,
Factors Affecting Conformity Pressure
Group Size
Conformity increases as group size increases. The effect of group size quickly levels off,
meaning if more and more ppl r simply agreeing with the crowd and tht their opinion isn’t
independent, thus their opinion doesn’t mean anything thus conformity rate falls.
The larger the group, the more ppl one will have to displease
Being viewed as odd by 2 people is more powerful than being viewed that way by 12 or
14 ppl
Group Unanimity
If another person in the group also disagrees w the majority, the conformity rate drops to
5% (recall that 1/3 of the ppl gave the right/actual answer, they stood up against the
majority). Having an ally weakens both information social influence and normative social
Note, the ally doesn’t have to give the right answer. Just breaking the unanimity is
Expertise and Status
If in Asch’s exp there were ppl w bad eyesight, you wouldn’t agree w them.
Greater status is given to experts; we take their opinions more seriously.
Status only affects normative social influence!
A pilot, navigator and gunner were given a mathematical word problem to solve. When
the pilot gave the ans (highest status from 3), 91% of crew ppl agreed an gave the same
ans; when navigator gave ans (80% crew ppl agreed); when lowly gunner gave ans, only
63% agreed.
People in interdependent cultures are more susceptible to both informational (they
consider the actions and opinions of others more telling) and normative (they consider the
high regard of others more important) social influence
interdependent cultures may conform more than independent cultures
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