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PSY220H1 Chapter Notes -Abu Ghraib Torture And Prisoner Abuse, Muzafer Sherif, Somalia Affair

Course Code
Jason Plaks

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-Conformity – a change in behaviour or belief to accord with others
-compliancepublically acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing (compliance primarily
to reap an award or avoid punishment)
-obedienceacting in accord with a direct order
-acceptanceinvolves both acting and believe in accord with social pressure
Sherif’s Studies of Norm Formation (Muzafer Sherif 1935, 1937)
-used autokinetic phenomenon to test norm formation
-autokinetic phenomenonthe apparent movement of a stationary point of light in the dark
-when subjects sat with others, they arrived at a group average (the group norm)
-when subjects retested over a year later, they continued to support the group norm
-internalized it
-Jacobs and Campbell built on Sherif’s orig experiment (1961)
-findings: group norm can be maintained over generations (an intergenerational transmission of the norm)
-social suggestibility/social contagion
-accounts for why UFO sightings, hijackings and suicides appear in waves
-mood linkage”being around happy people makes us feel happier
-the chameleon effect automatic behaviour mimicrying those around you
-done without any conscious intention to conform
-inclines one to feel what the other feels (appears to enhance social bonding)
-the Werther Effectimitative suicidal behaviour
-named after wave of suicides/imitative behaviour following the publication of Goethes book the
Sorrows of Young Werner

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Aschs Studies of Group Pressure
-participants judge length of lines (attempt to match them to a standard)
-confederates present to give inaccurate answers and to see whether subjects conform
-3/4 (75%) of S conform at least once
-in total 37% of responses were conforming
-63% of the time, people did not conform
-Subjects would display uneasiness after hearing the confederates give the wrong answer
Moscovici & Personnaz
-attempted to test whether group norm actually influenced perception at the physiological level
-used the principle of “afterimages in colour vision
-subjects told to look at an aquamarine patch on wall (colour halfway between blue and green)
-half of subjects told patch was green, other half told patch was blue
-subjects told to look at white wall, asked what afterimage colour they saw
-those told they were looking at a blue patch, saw a yellow afterimage
-those told they were looking at a green patch, saw a red afterimage
-the group norm influenced perceptions (apparently even at the physiological level)
Behavioural Study of ObedienceMilgram
-study inspired by the Holocaust/WW2
-main dependent variablemaximum shock subject is willing to administer before he refuses to continue further
-paid for participation and told that the money was theirs no matter what happened after they arrived
-subject is the teacher, the confederate is the learner (and victim)
-shock generator15-450 V (15 V increments)
-original hypothesis from Yale Psych majorsthat only 0-3% of subjects would go all the way with the shocks (class
mean was 1.2%)
-3 types of variables:
-variations: experimenter doesnt wear lab coat, or experiment held in random building in Connecticut
(and not the Yale Psych building)

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-variations: Milgram varied amount of detachment between learner and teacher (same room or different
-incremental increase in voltage responsible for obedience (easier to rationalize each increase)
-variations: subject participates as a bureaucrat…tells someone else to push the shock lever (almost
total obedience)
-2/3 of subjects went all the way to 450 in the original experiment
-orig experiment: no subject stopped before shock level 20 (300 V)
-subjects showed clear levels of nervous tension (clearly acting against their own personal wishes)
-aware that shocks were painful to learner
-breaking out into nervous laughter, one broke out into a seizure
-when Subject participates as a bureaucrat there is almost total obedience (93%) Adolf Eichmann
-defiant and obedient subjects asked about responsibility in giving the victim shocks against their will:
-both defiant and obedient subjects according the same amount of responsibility to experimenter
-defiant subjects placed more responsibility on themselves than obedient subjects
-defiant subjects placed less responsibility on victims than obedient subjects
-Milgrams explanations
-experiment connected to Yale (and first run took place on Yale grounds)
-experiment aimed at achieving a worthy purpose (knowledge about learning and punishment)
-obedience not an end in itself but an instrumental element in a situation the subject deems significant and
-subject perceives victim as voluntarily submitted to the authority system of the experimenter
-subject sees himself as having made a commitment to aid the experimenter
-subject assumes that the fact that he is teacher and the other individual is learner, is due to chance. Because roles
allocated by seemingly fair means, subject sees the learner deprived of any basis of complaint on this count.
-subjects assured that the shocks are painful but not dangerous
-Until Shock level 20 (300) the learner is still providing answers (and thus is still willing to play the game”)
-subject must respond to the competing demands of two persons: Experimenter and Learner…either individuals
satisfaction is mutually exclusive.
-experiment gives Subject little time for reflection
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