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Chapter 7 Conformity. Social Influence as “Automatic” Do humans imitate one another automatically, without thought, effort, or conflict?

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 7 Conformity. Social Influence as “Automatic” Do humans imitate one another automatically, without thought, effort, or conflict?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 7 Conformity

2 Social Influence as “Automatic” Do humans imitate one another automatically, without thought, effort, or conflict?

3 Conformity Tendency to change perceptions, opinions, or behavior in ways that are consistent with group norms.

4 The Early Classics Sherif’s study (1936) Asch’s study (1951)

5 What Did Asch’s Participants Do? Participants went along with the clearly incorrect majority 37% of the time. However, 25% of the participants NEVER conformed. Still, 50% conformed for at least half of the critical presentations. – The rest conformed on an occasional basis.

6 Why Do People Conform? Informational Influence: People conform because they believe others are correct in their judgments. Normative Influence: People conform because they fear the consequences of appearing deviant.

7 Types of Conformity Private Conformity: Changes in both overt behavior and beliefs. Public Conformity: Superficial change in overt behavior only.

8 Majority Influence: Group Size Conformity increases with group size -- but only up to a point. Why? – Law of “diminishing returns”? – Perception that others are either in “collusion” or “spineless sheep”?

9 Majority Influence: Having an Ally in Dissent When there was an ally in Asch’s study, conformity dropped by almost 80%. Why does having an ally reduce majority influence on our behavior? – Substantially more difficult to stand alone for one’s convictions than when one is part of even a tiny minority. – Any dissent can reduce the normative pressures to conform.

10 Minority Influence: The Power of Style Moscovici: Nonconformists derive power from the style of their behavior. – “Consistent dissent” approach Hollander: Minorities influence by first accumulating idiosyncrasy credits. – “First conform, then dissent” strategy

11 Processes and Outcomes of Minority Influence Does minority influence work just like the process of conformity? Do majorities and minorities exert influence in different ways? – Because of their power and control, majorities elicit public conformity through normative pressures. – Because seen as seriously committed to their views, minorities produce private conformity, or conversion.

12 Culture and Conformity Cultures differ in the extent to which people adhere to social norms. What determines whether a culture becomes individualistic or collectivistic? – The complexity of the society – The affluence of the society – The heterogeneity of the society

13 Compliance Changes in behavior that are elicited by direct requests.

14 Mindlessness and Compliance Talking fast and catching people off guard can improve compliance rates. People can be disarmed by the simple phrasing of the request. – How you ask for something can be more important than what you ask for. – Langer: We often respond mindlessly to words without fully processing the information they are supposed to convey.

15 Mindlessness and Compliance (cont’d) Mindlessness can make us more vulnerable to compliance, but can also have opposite effect

16 Norm of Reciprocity The powerful norm of reciprocity dictates that we treat others as they have treated us. – This norm leads us to feel obligated to repay for acts of kindness, even when unsolicited. Norm of reciprocity is relatively short-lived.

17 Sequential Request Strategies: Foot-in-the-Door Technique Person begins with a very small request; secures agreement; then makes a separate larger request. Why is it effective? – Self-perception theory revisited

18 Sequential Request Strategies: Low-Balling Person secures agreement with a request and then increases the size of that request by revealing hidden costs. Why is it effective? – Psychology of commitment

19 Sequential Request Strategies: Door-in-the-Face Technique Person begins with a very large request that will be rejected; then follows that up with a more moderate request.

20 Sequential Request Strategies: That’s Not All, Folks! Person begins with a somewhat inflated request; then immediately decreases the apparent size of the request by offering a discount or bonus.

21 Sequential Request Strategies

22 Assertiveness: When People Say No To be able to resist the trap of compliance techniques, one must: – Be vigilant – Not feel indebted by the norm of reciprocity Compliance techniques work smoothly only if they are hidden from view.

23 Obedience Behavior change produced by the commands of authority

24 Milgram’s Research: Forces of Destructive Obedience Conducted his experiments during the time that Adolph Eichmann was being tried for Nazi war crimes. His unorthodox methods have been the subject of much ethical debate.

25 The Learner’s Protests in the Milgram Experiment



28 The Obedient Participant Milgram’s participants were tormented by experience. No gender differences observed in level of obedience. Milgram’s basic findings have been replicated in several different countries and among different age groups.

29 Factors that Influence Obedience

30 Important Factors That Influence Obedience Physical presence and apparent legitimacy of the authority figure The victim’s proximity The experimental procedure – Participants were led to feel relieved of personal responsibility for the victim’s welfare. – Gradual escalation was used.

31 Defiance: When People Rebel Social influence can also breed rebellion and defiance. Having allies gives individuals the courage to disobey.

32 The Continuum of Social Influence

33 Social Impact Theory Social influence depends on three factors: – The strength of the source – The immediacy of the source to the target in time and space – The number of sources

34 Social Impact: Source and Target Factors

35 Perspectives on Human Nature Are people generally malleable or unyielding? Cultural differences – Some cultures value autonomy and independence whereas others place more emphasis on conformity to one’s group. – Within a given culture, these values can change over time.

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