Psychology 2070A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 8-13: Stanley Milgram, Albert Bandura, Richard E. Nisbett
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In this chapter, we reviewed social psychology research on three kinds of social influence. c refers top change
in behaviour caused by another person or group. c refers to a change in behaviour that is Y by another
person or group. refers to a change in behaviour that is mYY by another person or group. Conformity is the
most general of these concepts and encompasses compliance and obedience.
Conforming behaviours happen for two main reasons:
1.pInformational influence: occurs when people are influenced by others because of a desire to be correct and obtain
2.pNormative influence: occurs when people are influenced by others to gain rewards or avoid punishment.
These kinds of influence can occur simultaneously.
People sometimes go along with the behaviour of others because of áásocially defined standards of proper and
In a series of studies, Muzafer Sherif used the to study the emergence of norms. The Autokinetic
effect refers to the fact that in a darkened room, a stationary point of light will appear to move. When asked to estimate
the amount of movement of the light ʹ an ambiguous task ʹ people are influenced by the responses of others, and norms
that emerge in groups are maintained when members respond individually.
Solomon Asch studied conformity on a task in which the correct answer was obvious. Participants often conformed on a
line judgment task when several experimental confederates had unanimously given the same, clearly incorrect answer.
Richard Crutchfield developed the cá to study conformity more efficiently than using Asch͛s original
procedure. The Crutchfield apparatus consists of an electrical panel with several rows of lights; it allows the efficient study
of conformity by stimulating the responses of numerous hypothetical participants. Each of 5 participants controls a row of
lights (5 rows of 11 lights and one row of 11 switches).
apParticipants are told that they will answer questions projected on the wall so everyone can see it at the same time.
apThey are also told that as each person indicates their response (by throwing one of the 11 switches), a
corresponding light will be illuminated.
apEach participant believes they will learn the responses of others and that their responses will be publicly known.
apI reality, the experimenter controls all of the lights and is able to stimulate patterns involving a wrong but
Conformity researchers found that:
apConformity was greater when tasks were ambiguous and difficult.
apConformity also increased with larger groups, but only up to about four or five members.
apStudies in different cultures have yielded higher rates of conformity in collectivist cultures than in individualist
apResearchers have also uncovered a small gender difference, with women tending to conform somewhat more than
men, but only when responses are public.
A variety of compliance techniques have been identified.
Jonathan Freedman developed the , a strategy to increase compliance, based on the fact that
agreement with a small request increases the likelihood of agreement with a larger request. It reflects that agreement to a
small request results in higher rates of agreement to a subsequent, larger request. This technique may rely on self-
perception processes and/or a desire for consistency. Researchers went door to door to home owners and asked if the
residents would be willing to have a large ͞Drive Carefully͟ sign installed in their front yards. This was the much larger
request. When the large request was made without any other initial contact, only 16% of the homeowners agreed. But
other residents were first contacted and asked much smaller requests (i.e. signing a petition, or a much smaller sign). When
the large request was made two weeks later, more than 55% of the residents agreed to it.
Thus, the initial contact and smaller request (the foot in the door) dramatically increased compliance.
Robert Cialdini wondered if the opposite of the foot in the door could happen, which led to the
This reflects that refusal of a very large request results in higher rates of agreement to a subsequent, smaller request. This
technique probably relies of the , which is that we should reciprocate favours done for us. Students
were approached on a university campus and asked if they would be willing to accompany a group of juvenile delinquents
on a two hour trip to the zoo. For some students, this was the only request they received. As expected, most declined (only
16% agreed). For other students, this request had been preceded by an even larger request: would they be willing to serve
as a counselor to juvenile delinquents for at least two years? No one agreed to the initial large request, but when it was
followed by the smaller, 50% of the students agreed to the smaller request.
When someone presents a second, smaller request following refusal of a large request, this second request may be
seen as a concession on their part ʹ a compromise in response to the initial refusal.
The also relies on the norm of reciprocity; it involves giving someone a small gift in order to increase the
likelihood that he or she will comply with a subsequent request. Dennis Regan illustrated how the free-gift technique can be
used to gain compliance. In the ͞favour͟ condition of the experiment, the confederate went to get a soda and returned with
an extra soda for the unsuspecting student. In the ͞no-favour͟ condition the confederate left the room for the same
amount of time but returned with nothing. When the main part of the study was over, the confederate asked the naïve
student to purchase some raffle tickets. Presumably feeling the need to return the earlier favour of the free soda, student in
the favour condition responded by purchasing nearly twice as many raffle tickets as did students in the no-favour condition.
The (a strategy to increase compliance) occurs when something is offered at a given price but then, after
agreement, the price is increased. Even though the modified deal is less attractive, people have committed themselves to
the course of action and may have engaged in postdecisional dissonance reduction. In a study done by Cialdini, Cacioppo,
Bassett, & Miller (1978), students in the control condition were told that the experiment would need to be scheduled for 7
a.m. even for the early time of day, 31% made the appointment and 24% actually showed up. In the low-ball condition,
students were asked if they would agree to participate, but they were not told what time. Only after they agreed were they
told the time of day. Among these students, 56% made the appointment and 53% showed up.
Why? Because people want to act consistent with their initial decision, or perhaps they fear that they would look
inconsistent if they did not carry through with the decision. Postdecisional dissonance is when people make a choice and
commitment to themselves, which in turn makes them more favourable to the situation or object and more likely to be
The á (a strategy to increase compliance) involves making a product appear scarce or temporary to
increase its attractiveness. A study done by Stephen Worchel, Jerry Lee, and Akanbi Adewole (1975), university students
were given a chocolate chip cookie and asked to taste it and then rate it on several scales. In one condition, the jar
contained 10 cookies. In another condition, only two cookies were in the jar, creating an experimental version of a scarce
resource. Even though the cookies were all identical, they were rated as more desirable when they were taken from the
two-cookie jar than from the 10 cookie jar.
The reflects the fact that we are more likely to comply with the requests of people we like than with the
requests of people we dislike. This technique may reply on the fact that we want to please people we like and on the
heuristic that we help people we like. In a study done by Dariusz Dolinski, Magdalena Nawrat, and Izabela Rudak (2001) a
female university student approached other students individually in their dormitories and asked whether they would help
out collecting money, books, and toys for children in an orphanage. Some participants were simply asked this request
directly (after an opening ͞Hi!͟); among this group, only 28% agreed. Other participants were exposed to a brief
conversation prior to the request (i.e. ͞Hi, is this session (examination period) going to be hard for you? How many exams
are you taking? So, how are you feeling before the session?͟). Among participants exposed to this minimal conversation,
68% agreed to help out with the collections. The researchers suggested that this kind of conversation is characteristic of
encounters with friends and acquaintances, so it serves as a heuristic to elicit responses like those directed to friends.
In another set of studies, Jerry Burger showed that university students were more likely to comply with another
student͛s requests when they shared a birthday, a first name, or a ͞fingerprint type͟ with the student than when they did
not have these coincidental similarities. The shared feature doubled the rate of compliance.
Concept Review ʹ Compliance Techniques
Agreeing to a small request increases
A struggling student asks a more
the likelihood of agreeing to a second,
talented classmate to explain
something from the class, and then
asks if the classmate would be willing
to study together regularly.
Refusing a large request increases the
likelihood of agreeing to a second,
Someone asks to borrow 100$, and
then reduces the request to 20$ after
the first request is refused.
Receiving a small gift increases the
likelihood of agreeing to a subsequent
A charity sends free address labels to
potential donors with a request for
Agreeing to purchase something at a
given price increases the likelihood of
agreeing to purchase it at a higher
A car salesperson offers a car at a good
price but it then ͞forced͟ by the
͞manager͟ to raise the price after the
customer has agreed to the initial offer.
Making a product appear rare or
temporary increases its attractiveness.
A store advertises a ͞limited time
offer͟ for a product.
People are more likely to help others
whom they like.
A salesperson flatters a customer to
The refers to people͛s knowledge that legitimate authorities should be obeyed. A series of
studies by Stanley Milgram showed how powerful this norm is in our society. On the insistence of a person of authority (an
experimenter in a lab coat), participants were willing to administer what they believed to be painful electric shocks to an
innocent victim. The rate of obedience was influenced systematically by cues in the setting (e.g. the proximity of the victim),
but the overall level of obedience was unexpectedly high. These studies raised considerable awareness about people͛s
susceptibility to authoritative commands.
Concept Review ʹ Informational/Normative Influence and Accuracy/Social Motivation
Influence from other people that
derives from their serving as sources of
information. It often makes sense to
conform to their actions or attitudes.
Often caused by Accuracy Motivation.
Influence from other people that
derives from perceptions of what
behaviour is considered proper &
improper. People want to be liked &
respected by others. Conformity
sometimes represents individuals͛
attempts to maintain positive
Often caused by Social Motivation.
The desire to make accurate judgments
& decisions. One important way that
people achieve these accuracy goals Is
by observing, copying, or interrogating
One important source of Informational
The desire to establish and maintain
social relationships. Even when the
nature of a relationship is minimal,
people try to be agreeable & to make
others like them. Conforming to others͛
opinions & judgments is one way to get
them to like us.
One important source of Normative