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Chapter 7

PSY 280 Chapter 7: Chapter 7 continuation social psyc.docx

Course Code
PSY 323

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When People Conform to Informational Social Influence
1) When the Situation is ambiguous:
oexperiencing hearing a fire alarm in a building, therefore you turn to the
other people around you to see if the situation was an emergency
oResearch shows that the more uncertain you are, the more you will rely on
2) When the Situation is a Crisis:
oWhen the situation is a crisis, we usually do not have time to stop and
think about exactly which course of action we should take
oThe result was a contagion – which is the rapid transmission of emotions
or behaviours through a crowd
3) When Other People Are Experts
oThe more expertise or knowledge a person has, the more valuable he or
she will be as a guide in an ambiguous or crisis situation
oExperts are not always reliable sources of information
When Informational Conformity Backfires
The War of the Worlds incident reminds us that using other people as a source of
information can be dangerous however.
If other people are misinformed, we will adopt their mistakes and
Mass psychogenic illness: The occurrence of similar physical symptoms in a
group of people for which there is no known physical or medical cause.
They explained the symptoms experienced by those involved in the toxic bus
incident as an anxiety reaction
Toxic bus case is a modern-day example of informational conformity gone awry
Resisting Informational Social Influence
It is possible to resist illegitimate or inaccurate informational social influence
One reason that the decision about whether to conform is so important is that it
influences how people define reality
People who conformed to the group’s opinion that the police were to blame for
the death of an African Canadian teenager subsequently formed a more police
blaming interpretation of the event. Those who decided not to conform to the
group later reinterpreted the situation such that the police were seen as less
Another reason why we conform, aside from the need for information is that we
also conform so we will be liked and accepted by other people.
Normative social influence: The influence of other people that leads us to
conform in order to be liked and accepted by them; this type of conformity results
in public compliance with the group’s beliefs and behaviours but not necessarily
in private acceptance
Groups have certain expectations about how the group members should behave,
and members in good standing conform to these rules, or social norms
Social norms: The implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable
behaviours, values and beliefs of its members.
Members who do not are perceived as different, difficult and eventually deviant
Research: Those who observed someone else being ridiculed later showed the
greatest conformity to their peers
Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies
Asch: conducted a series of classic studies explaining the parameters of normative
social influence. Asch initiated this program of research because he believed that
there are limits to how many people will conform
Asch believed, that when a situation was completely unambiguous, people would
act like rational objective problem solvers
The judgement task in Asch’s line studies: Looking at lines, but on third trial,
everyone says the wrong answer
Participants conformed on at least one trial
People conformed because people had a hard time with the task, and assumed that
other people were better judges. Also normative pressures came into play
People know that what they are doing is wrong but go along anyways so as not to
feel like a fool
In contrast to informational social influence, normative pressures usually result in
public compliance without private acceptance.
We do conform for normative reasons because we do not want to risk social
In another study;