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Chapter 7

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Elizabeth Page- Gould

Social Psychology; Chapter 7 - Conformity Conformity: When and Why  conformity - a change in behaviour as a result of the real or imagined influence of other people  North American culture stresses the importance of not conforming - individualistic culture - one that emphasizes being independent  we probably conform a lot more than we realize (or want to admit) Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What's "Right"?  informational social influence - conforming because we believe that others' interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more correct than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of action  informational social influence can lead to private acceptance  private acceptance - conforming to other people's behaviour out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right  public compliance - conforming to other people's behaviour publicly, without necessarily believing in what they are doing or saying  information conformity does occur in real life situations  another variable that affects informational social influence: how important it is to the individual to be accurate at the task  when we are facing important decision, we are even more likely to rely on other people for information and guidance  informational social influence is pervasive  Experiment: Sheriff's Dot Studies - people estimated how far a point of light appeared to move in a dark room - when they saw the light by themselves, their estimates varied widely - when they were brought together in groups and heard other people announce their estimates, they conformed to the group's estimate of how much the light moved When Will People Conform to Informational Social Influence?  three situations are most likely to produce conformity because of informational social influence:  ambiguous situations  crises  situations in which an expert is present When the Situation is Ambiguous  when you are unsure of the correct response, the appropriate behaviour, or the right idea, you will be most open to influence from others  the more uncertain you are, the more you rely on others When the Situation is a Crisis  when the situation is a crisis, we don't have time to stop and think, we need to act and act now  if we feel scared and panicky and uncertain, it is only natural for us to see how other people are responding - and to do likewise 1 Social Psychology; Chapter 7 - Conformity  unfortunately, the people we imitate may also feel scared and panicky and not behave rationally  contagion - the rapid transmission of emotions or behaviour through a crowd When Other People are Experts  the more expertise or knowledge a person has, the more valuable he/she will be as a guide in an ambiguous or crisis situation  experts are not always reliable sources of information When Informational Conformity Backfires  if other people are misinformed, we will adopt their mistakes and misinterpretations - depending on others to help us reach a definition can sometimes lead to an inaccurate definition  mass psychogenic illness - the occurrence of a similar physical symptoms in a group of people for which there is no known physical or medical cause Resisting Informational Social Influence  it is possible to resist illegitimate or inaccurate informational social influence  some engaged in rational problem solving: the searched for an found information on their own instead of relying on others and being caught up in the contagion and mass panic  one reason that the decision about whether to conform is important is that it influences how people define reality  if you decide to accept other people's definition of a situation, you will come to see the world as they do  if you decide to reject other people's definition of a situation, you will come to see the world differently from the way they do  Experiment: people who conformed to the group's opinion that the police were to blame for the death of the teenager subsequently formed a more police-blaming interpretation of the event - those who decided not to conform to the group (ex. the dissenters) later reinterpreted the situation such that the police were seen as less blameworthy  decisions about whether to conform to informational influence will affect not only people's behaviour but also their interpretation of reality  it is important to consider carefully whether other people's reactions to a situation are any more legitimate than your own Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted  people conform so they will be liked and accepted by others  normative social influence - the influence of other people that leads us to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them; this type of conformity results in public compliance with but not necessarily with private acceptance of the group's beliefs and behaviours  social norms - the implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviours, values and beliefs of its members 2 Social Psychology; Chapter 7 - Conformity  members who not follow the group rules are perceived as different, difficult and deviant  deviant members can be ridiculed, punished or even rejected by the other group members Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgement Studies  in a study of normative social influence, participants judged which of the 3 comparison lines on the right was closes in length to the standard line on the left. the correct answer was obvious. however members of the group (actually confederates) said the wrong answer out lout. now the participant is in a dilemma. should he say the right answer and go against the whole group, or should he conform to their behaviour and give the obviously wrong answer  Results to Asch line study: participants showed a surprisingly high level of conformity, given how obvious it was that the group was wrong in its judgements: 76% of the participants conformed on at least 1 trial; only 24% of participants never conformed at all  people conformed because normative pressures came into play - even though the other participants were strangers, the fear of being the lone dissenter was very strong  normative pressures usually result in public compliance without private acceptance - people go along with the group even if they do not believe in what they are doing or think it is wrong  conformity and normative reasons can occur simply because we don't want to risk social disapproval, even from complete strangers we will never see again When Will People Conform to Normative Social Influence?  social impact theory - the theory that conforming to social influence depends on the strength of the group, its immediacy, and the number of other people in the group  the likelihood that you will respond to social influence from other people depends on three variables: 1. strength - how important is the group to you? 2. immediacy- how close is the group to you in space and time during the influence attempt? 3. number - how many people are in the group?  conformity will increase as strength and immediacy increase  the more important the group is to us, and the more we are in its presence, the more likely we will be to conform to its normative pressures  as the size increases for number, each additional person has less of an influencing effect - going from 3 people to 4 makes more of a difference than going from 53 people to 54  when the group is small, adding another member will increase conformity pressure  but if a group is large, adding another voice to the group doesn't have much effect When the Group Size is Three or More  conformity increases as the number of people in the group increases, but only up to a point  conformity pressures peak once the majority reaches about 4 or 5 in number  the effects of group size depend on the kind of social influence that is operating  in situations where the group is clearly wrong, conformity will be motivated by normative influence; the participants will conform in order to be accepted by the group 3 Social Psychology; Chapter 7 - Conformity  conformity pressure will mount as each additional group member also gives the same incorrect response  in situations where the group is making a judgement that may be correct, participants will turn to the group as a source of information - here group size is less likely to matter  the size of a group is most likely to affect conformity when normative social influence is operating When the Group Is Important  normative pressures are much stronger when they come from people whose friendship, love and respect we cherish because there is a large cost to losing this love and respect  when we are attracted to a group and are reminded that we don't quite fit in, we are especially motivated to conform When The Group is Unanimous  normative social influence is most powerfully felt when everyone in the group says or believes the same thing  resisting such unanimous social influence is difficult unless you have an ally  people who hold unpopular beliefs are able to maintain then in the face of group pressure if they can convince at least a few others to agree with them Gender Differences in Conformity  women are more conforming than men - men are less easily influenced than women, but the size difference is very small  sex differences in influenceability are small and they depend on the type of conformity pressures impinging on people  gender differences are likely to be found in group-pressure situations, where an audience can directly observe  in situations where conformity is private, gender differences in influenceability disappear  the gender of the researchers conducting conformity studies make a difference - researchers may be more likely to use experimental materials and situations that are familiar to their own gender  women conformed more than men on the masculine items, men conformed more than
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