PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Normative Social Influence, Social Proof, Muzafer Sherif

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27 Jul 2016
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PSYB10 Chapter 9 Notes
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What is social influence?
Social influence: the many ways that people affect one another, including changes
in attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviour that result from the comments, action,
or even the mere presence of others
We influence each other consciously and unconsciously (such as a unconscious grin
when seeing someone we like). Effective influence require some skill.
Types of social influence:
Conformity: changing one’s behaviour or beliefs in response to explicit or
implicit pressure (whether real or imagined) from others
Compliance: responding favorably to an explicit request by another person
Obedience: in an unequal power relationship, submitting to the demands of
the more powerful person
Conformity:
Humans have a tendency to reflectively mimic the posture, mannerisms, facial
expressions, and other actions of those around us as part of our automatic mimicry.
Why do we mimic (automatically)?
William James (1890) provide the first explanation of this with his principle
of ideomotor action whereby merely thinking about a behaviour makes its
actual performance more likely.
o This is based on the fact that brain regions responsible for perception
overlap with those responsible for action.
The second reason we reflexively mimic is to prepare for interaction with the
mimicked through establishing some rapport.
Culture does affect mimicry. E.g. Hispanic interviewees reported less anxiety and
were rated to be better interviewees when the interviewer mimics their actions.
However, no such correlation was found among Anglo-American interviewees.
Informational Social Influence and Sherif’s Conformity Experiment:
Muzafer Sherif (1936) designed an experiment around autokinetic illusion where a
line was shown with a small movement of light (in reality it appeared to move but
didn’t actually) and people would guess how far the light would move (eg. some
1
PSYB10 CHAPTER 9
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would say 2” and other 8”). Sherif found that when participants would report light
movement in a group setting that eventually the opinions converged into a group
norm.
Using Sherif’s findings we can look into informational social influence which is
the influence of other people that results from taking their comments of actions as a
source of information about what is correct, proper, or effective.
Normative Social Influence and Asch’s Conformity Experiment
Solomon Asch thought that Sherif’s experiment did not speak to conformity that
occurs even when an individual’s personal opinion conflicted with what he/she is
conforming to.
Asch created an experiment where 3 lines were presented of clearly different
lengths and one participant would have to choose the correct length among 7 other
confederates (the 1 individual did not know this of course.) 1/3 of participants
conformed during clinical trials. Asch’s experiment is important because it shows
how easily influenced we are.
Social psychologist refer to the participant trying to avoid standing out negatively
normative social influence which is the desire to avoid the disapproval, criticism,
or ostracism that other people might deliver.
Factors Affecting Conformity Pressure
As either informational or normative social influence intensifies, so does the rate of
conformity.
Group size
As group size increases so does conformity, but it levels off after 3 or 4 people.
Group unanimity
In Asch’s experiment, conformity dropped from 1/3 to 5% when one confederate
deviated from the norm.
This has real life application: “the presence of voices, even bizarre voices, that
depart from conventional opinion frees the body politic to speak out and thus can
foster productive political discourse.
Expertise and Status
The disapproval of experts and high-status figures affects conformity more than
others.
Culture
People from interdependent cultures are much more concerned about their
relations with others and about fitting into the broader social context that people
from independent culture, making them more likely to conform.
Tight vs. Loose Cultures
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