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Chapter 8

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PSYC 2120
Ward Struthers

CHAPTER 8 – SOCIAL INFLUENCE Social norms: unspoken but shares rules of conduct within a particular formal or informal group Conformity: changes in our behavior/opinion to meet perceived group norms Compliance: behavior that is caused by a direct request Obedience: behavior that is produced by the commands of a authority figure Two kinds of social norms: 1. Descriptive norms Describes how people behave in a given situation FOR EXAMPLE: on many university campuses students follow a variety of descriptive norms of behavior like how they spend Saturday nights, what types of clothes they should wear 2. Injunctive norms Describe how people ought to do in a given situation, meaning the type of behavior that is approved of in the situation. FOR EXAMPLE: reporting cheating to a professor. Not showing up naked in a classroom. - People acquire norms when they are in a new situations Pluralistic Ignorance: a type of norm misperception that occurs when each individual in the group privately rejects the group’s norms but believes that others accept these norms FOR EXAMPLE: when a professor asks the class “ does anyone have any questions” no one raises their hand. Each person in the class assumes that everyone must understand it. But many students do have questions but are too embarrassed to raise their hands because they think they are the only one who doesn’t understand something. - Pressure to conform to social norms: people who deviate from the norm experience negative consequences - Janes and Olson’s Study shows: when we watch someone being ridiculed or rejected by a group of people we’re more likely to adopt to the group norm and not express our opinion - Learning about other people’s behavior was effective at changing behavior - Giving people accurate information about various norms can reduce misperception and thereby improve health - Your response was probably influenced by the presence of other people Two types of influence 1. Information Influence - Refers to the influence that leads a person to conform to the behavior of others because the person believes that the others are correct in their behavior and the person also wants to be correct. - This type of influence might occur when you are in a new situation FOR EXAMPLE: When you are deciding whether to take a course next semester, you might ask students who are in their third or fourth year for their opinion because you assume they know more and they would be right. - People use other people’s beliefs as a way of getting information about the situation and believe that these people are correct in their judgements - First information influence study by Muzafer Sheriff. Used autokinetic effect: dot of light shown on wall, doesn’t really move. Tested in groups and alone. This study demonstrated private conformity where people change their private view and thereby conform to the group norm because they believe that others are right. Another study, Macneil and Sherif using the same autokinetic effect. Confederates were replaced by real individual. Study showed took 11 generations before the group norm started to shift. Indicates that norms develop within a group and in the absence of other influences, they are resistant or slow to change. group norms continue to influence group members long after those who instigated the norm are gone. 2. Normative influence - the influence that produces conformity when a person fears the negative social consequences of appearing deviant - you go along with the groups norms for ex: smoking example. When people in your group smoke and someone hands you smoke and you decide to smoke it its not because you are a smoker but because you are going along with the groups norms. - Study by Solomon Asch, regarding target lines and then other comparison lines and say which is the same length. Participants actually gave the wrong answer in order to conform to the rest of the group. This study revealed public conformity meaning when people conform because they want to publicly agree with others even though in reality they realize their answer is incorrect. Factors that increase conformity 1. Group size - Group of four better at producing conformity than a group of two, but a group of 17 not better than group of 10. - Group size much more important when the influence was normative than informational - Group size found to influence our willingness to express a minority opinion - The larger the number of people holding a majority viewpoint the longer the delay before an individual would express a minority viewpoint - Social impact theory: people we are close to have more impact on us than those who are more distant. FOR EXAMPLE: as a university student you increasingly conform to the norms of your uni and decreasingly conform to the norms of your high school. - we conform more in the presence of powerful and vocal group members - conform more in groups that are attractive to us (ex. When we feel like we want to belong) 2. Standing alone - If person who deviates seem to be incompetent, having anyone else stand up to the majority decreases conformity - when group appears united, its at its strongest - when someone breaks the unity others feel better able to do so as well 3. Demographic variables - age, gender influence conformity - conformity highest in adolescence, when theres real pressure to fit in. lower in children and older adults. - Peer pressure for example is identified as a major predictor of misconduct - Women are more likely than men to agree with others in group decision making tasks - Women man conform more in conversations about hockey, men may conform more in conversations about child rearing - Women tend to be more influenced by face to face persuasion than by email 4. Motivation - Task importance can influence conformity. On easy tasks people don’t need to look to group members for answer, on harder tasks people may feel less sure about their answer - High motivation conformed rarely on easy tasks. Conformed frequently on difficult tasks Minority Influence: a process in which a small number of people in a group lead an overall change in the group’s attitude in behavior. - One factor that increases the power of minority influence is the consistency of the minority’s position: people who are steady in their view attract attention from others and make their argument especially important. - When a person is very firm in his or her beliefs, it can make others think that that that individual might actually be right - Majorities usually influence people by showing public conformity, but minorities may lead to private conformity which occurs when people rethink their o
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