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Chapter 8

Psychology 2070A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Stationary Point, Social Proof, Impression Management

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Chapter 8: Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience
- Conformity : the general concept that refers to a change in behaviour caused by other
people; e.g. booing the ref at a hockey game because the crowd is doing it
- Compliance : a change of behaviour that is requested by another person (with the option of
refusing); e.g. being asked by a party official to put an NDP sign on the lawn for support
- Obedience : a change in behaviour that is ordered by another person (cannot fail to obey);
e.g. cleaning your bedroom because your parents order you to do it
- Why do we conform?
oInformational influence : when people are influenced by others because of a desire
to be correct and obtain valid information- trust others’ judgment/ knowledge
oNormative influence : when people are influenced by others to gain rewards or to
avoid punishment- obeying laws just to avoid being punished
oCan happen at the same time- we often want to please (normative) people whose
judgement we seek (informational)
Conformity: Doing as Others Do
- Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect Studies
oHe wanted to study the development and influence of social norms
oAutokinetic Effect : when in a darkened room, a stationary point of light will appear
to love periodically because no other visual frame of reference is available and
occasional rapid eye movements
oStudies including testing people in how far they would estimate that the light had
moves. They all showed that when tested with others, their answers influence your
answers. In an experiment when the first set of trials were with a partner and then
alone, the first set established the group norm, and that carries over to influence
the participants judgment when alone- they were very similar
oMutigenerational norms can persist long after their original instigators are gone e.g.
tipping a waiter
- Asch’s Length Judgement Studies
oParticipants were given a standard line and 3 lines from which to choose the one
that is the same length which was easy and obvious. The 6 people who answered
BEFORE the participant were instructed to give the wrong answer to see whether
the naïve participant would conform knowing and also give the wrong answer or say
the right one
oIn the face of the pressure, only 23% ALWAYS gave the correct answer all 12 trials

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oCruthfield apparatus : stimulates the responses of others by illuminating the
corresponding light on the panel- everyone gets the question at the same time, and
can see each other’s responses
Crutchfield replicated Asch’s experiment with the lines and others to test
social pressure and found that in virtually all tasks, people showed some
conformity to the judgement of others except when expressing personal
preferences- choosing between 2 pictures
oThe AMOUNT of conformity depends on features of the judgement task
Conformity is more likely when tasks are ambiguous and difficult
Happens because easy tasks only have normative influence, and
difficult/ambiguous tasks also have informative because we use others’
judgements as a source of information for the right answer
oStudies show that people that do not conform to pressure are higher in their
motivation to achieve and in their leadership ability and are less concerned with the
approval of others than people who conform; generally people with a strong sense
of self remain independent because they are more confident in their own
oConformity also increases as the group size increases ; studies show however, that
group increases beyond 4-5 have relatively little effect on conformity
oTo how eliminate conformity
Anonymous/public judgements- only conformed in public
Having at least ONE person say the correct answer- break the wall of
pressure against them
Cultural and Gender Differences in Conformity
- Studies show conformity was higher in collectivist than in individualist cultures. Culture
pressure was found to predict participants’ conformity more strongly than other factors
such as group size
- Women conform slightly more than men but ONLY in public situations which indicates that
women may be more susceptible to normative influence than men
Compliance: Doing What Others Want- 6 techniques:
The Foot-in-the-Door Technique
- Strategy where if you can get someone to comply to a small request, you are more likely
to get them to comply to a bigger, related request later. Works because:
oSelf-perception processes- by agreeing to an initial first request, they stimulate a
self-perception of helpfulness so that when they are asked for a second request
they think of themselves as helpful people and are more likely to comply
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