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PSYC 2120 Chapter Notes -Social Proof, Begging, Social Influence


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 2120
Professor
Mc Caan

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Conformity, compliance and obedience
Defining conformity, compliance and obedience
Conformity: any change in behavior that is caused by another person or group; the
individual acts a certain way because of the influence of others (does not include a
change of attitude or belief)
Compliance: refers to a change in behavior that is requested by a person or group
(you are able to refuse or decline, but the individual only acts that way because
someone else asked them too)
Obedience: change in behavior that is ordered by another person or group (failure to
obey is not an option, even if the individual would have liked to)
Conformity encompasses both obedience and compliance, bc it is a change in
behavior, no matter what the reason for the change
People will conform to do as other have done without request, if they are unsure how
to behave in an event (people will go along with others in these ambiguous events, even
if the other person is acting in a weird way that doesn’t follow reality)
Compliances can take place in many events, including when you are shopping and a
sales clerk influences you to buy more than you wanted; it also includes when a
panhandler / homeless person influences you to give them money
Obedience starts early from your parents and teachers and lead to us being obedient
in adulthood, by following laws, listening to people of authority (boss) or people in
uniform (police)
Why do we conform?
There are 2 principal reasons for conforming: informational influence and normative
influence
Informational influence: people are influenced by others bc of a desire to be correct
and gather valid information i.e. Following what your driving instructor does
Normative influence: people are influenced by others to gain rewards and avoid
punishments (they may not think that others behavior is correct, but will follow it to avoid
conflict) i.e. Obeying the law

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People could conform based on both influences instead of just one
Conformity: doing as others do
Two studies have been done to see why people do what others do: sometimes people
follow others bc they are unaware of what to do, but other times people do things, even
if they know they shouldn't
Sherif’s autokinetic effect studies
Sherifs research on conformity was based on social norms (guidelines to what is
proper and improper, and will lead to social acceptance)
The autokinetic effect
The autokinetic effect: when a light is situated on a wall and there is not other light in
the room, it will appear that the light is moving or jumping; this occurs bc there is no
other visual frame and also based on your rapid eye movement’s
First part of the study was that people individually reported how far the light moved on
the wall; the responses were different for different people and during the different trials
The second part of the study, people were either paired up in groups after having one
trial on their own or they were put into groups right away and then tested alone
afterwards
Results: when they were put into groups after being alone, the people in the group
slowly converged to have a similar answer to each other; however people who
were in a group first and then alone, had convergent answers right away, and their
convergent answers followed on to when they were tested alone (pg. 290 fig 8.1)
Therefore, group norms are established and are carried over into individuals judgment
Asch’s length judgment studies
Study included 7 confederates and one naive participant who were all shown different
lines to compare with one standard line; the experiment was that people would say out-
loud what the correct line represents the standard line; by trial 3, the confederates would
all being saying the wrong size line (experiment was to see if you would conform and
say what they did, or would you stick to what you know is correct)
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Result was that 23% of people went against the norm and gave the correct answer
The crutchfield apparatus: separate study that was done to have better control of
experiment: used five naive participants and set them up into cubicles where they would
give an answer to a question by setting up a light; the experiment controlled the rest of
the lights; the result was that participants would show some type of conformity (expect
for the study on which drawing the person preferred; which was a personal preference
so conformity shouldn't have been present there)
Overall, conformity is more likely when a task is ambiguous, when a task is more
difficult; this is because on these types of task peoples responses both exert and
informational and normative influence on the task
People who are independent are more motivated to achieve and have higher
leadership abilities, therefore have a decrease in conformity; these people are also less
conscientious, authoritarian, and dont have a high need of approval from others
Conformity increases around grade 9 and declines by university
Conformity increases as the size of the group goes from one to three (but not beyond
five, where conformity decreases at 6)
Having private responses to this, will lead to a decrease in conformity (and even
higher when responses are anonymous)
Cultural differences in conformity
Conformity is higher with collectivistic than individualist cultures (culture is a higher
predicator than size of a group)
If ones self concept is more interdependent, you are more likely to conform
Gender differences in conformity
There is a small gender difference, in that women are more likely to conform than
men
One reason for this is that women care more about a social harmony so they are less
willing to disagree with others; men may also be unconsciously bias to being more
independent; and conformity studies have been masculine, resulting in women not being
as confident in their judgments
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