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Chapter 8

Psychology 2720A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Impression Management, Stationary Point, Social Forces

Course Code
Clive Seligman

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Defining Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience
Three specific kinds of social influence: conformity, compliance, and obedience
Conformity: any change in behaviour caused by another person or group
Compliance: a change in behaviour that is requested y another person or group
Obedience: a change in behaviour that is ordered by another person or group
Conformity encompasses compliance and obedience because it refers to any
behaviour that occurs as a result of other’s influence
Obedience commands start in early childhood, when we are socialized to follow the
orders of parents and teachers
Why Do We Conform?
Conforming behaviour occur for two principal reasons
Informational Influence: influence from other people that is motivated by a
desire to be correct and to obtain accurate information
Reflects that people often rely on others as a source of information
Normative Influence: influence from other people that is motivated by a desire
to gain rewards or avoid punishment
They might not necessarily think that others judgements or behaviours are
Informational and normative influence can occur simultaneously
We often please other people (normative influence) whose judgements we seek
(informational influence)
Conformity: Doing as Others Do
Sometimes we go along with others because we do not understand what is happening
or we are unsure what to do
But sometimes we go along when we know we shouldn’t
Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect Studies
Social Norm: a rule or guideline in a group or culture about what behaviours are
proper and improper
Typically, the reward for following a norm is social acceptance or approval,
whereas the punishment for breaking a norm is social rejection or disapproval
Social norms are one source of conformity
The Autokinetic Effect
Autokinetic Effect: in a darkened room, a stationary point of light will appear to
move periodically
Occurs partly because no other visual frame of reference is available to locate
the light and partly because of occasional rapid movements of your eye
Multigenerational Norms
Transmission of a norm form generation to generation is something that can be
modeled in the laboratory
Asch’s Length Judgement Studies
Complying with others statements about length of a line even though you know
they are incorrect
The Crutchfield Apparatus
To improve efficiency, flexibility, and control used that Crutchfield Apparatus

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Crutchfield Apparatus: a machine that 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
Crutchfield’s findings were very similar to those of Asch
On virtually all of these tasks, participants showed some conformity to the
judgements of others
There was little or no effect of group pressure
Nature of the Task
One feature is the ambiguity of the task: conformity is more likely when tasks
are ambiguous
Conformity is also influenced by the difficulty of the task
On the one hand, difficult tasks might increase conformity because people are
less certain of their own answer
On the other hand, difficult tasks might reduce conformity because it is okay to
differ for others when a task is difficult
On ambiguous or difficult tasks, other peoples responses exert both
informational and normative influence, whereas on clear and easy tasks only
normative influence occurs
Individual Differences
Not everyone conforms
People who remain independent are somewhat higher in their motivation to
achieve and in their leadership ability than people who conform
Also people who remain independent tend to be less concerned about
obtaining the approval of others, less authoritarian, and less conscientious
Individuals with high self-esteem are less likely to conform than individuals with
low self-esteem especially when high self-esteem is based on intrinsic qualities
like honesty or generosity, as opposed to extrinsic things like achievements
Perhaps most clearly, it seems that a strong sense of self is associated with
remaining independent
Age differences in conformity have also been explored
Between the ages of 18-85, there is a general tendency for conformity to
decrease as age increases
Effects of Group Size
Group size indicate that increases in the group beyond four or five members
have relatively little effect on conformity
How to Make Conformity Disappear
Two rather different methods have been found to reduce very substantially the
level of conformity
Private, confidential judgements by the critical participant produced a dramatic
reduction in conformity
Also when judgements were anonymous rather than face-to-face with the
opposing majority
A little social support was all that participants needed to stand up against the
majority in this context
Cultural Differences in Conformity
Individualism Versus Collectivism
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