Presentation on theme: "Social Psychology Elliot Aronson Timothy D. Wilson Robin M. Akert"— Presentation transcript:
1 Social Psychology Elliot Aronson Timothy D. Wilson Robin M. Akert 6th editionElliot AronsonUniversity of California, Santa CruzTimothy D. WilsonUniversity of VirginiaRobin M. AkertWellesley Collegeslides by Travis LangleyHenderson State University
2 Chapter 8 Conformity: Influencing Behavior It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races. —Mark Twain
3 Conformity: When and Why American culture stresses the importance of not conforming.American mythology has celebrated the rugged individualist in many ways.The photograph of a cowboy alone on the range has been an archetypal image. It has also sold a lot of cigarettes.(Hofstede, 1986; Kim & Markus, 1999; Markus, Kitayama, & Heiman, 1996)For example, one of the longest-running and most successful advertising campaigns in American history features the “Marlboro Man.” People who have never seen a horse, let alone the American West, have responded for half a century to this simple, evocative image. Clearly, it tells us something about ourselves that we want and like to hear: that we make up our own minds; that we’re not spineless, weak conformists; that we’re not puppets but players (Hornsey & Jetten, 2004; 2005).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
4 Conformity: When and Why But are we, in fact, nonconforming creatures?Are the decisions we make always based on what we think, or do we sometimes use other people’s behavior to help us decide what to do?As we saw in Chapter 6, the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult members suggests that people sometimes conform in extreme and surprising ways—even when making such a fundamental decision as whether or not to take their own lives. But, you might argue, this is an unusual and extreme case. Perhaps the followers of Marshall Applewhite were disturbed people who were somehow predisposed to do what a charismatic leader told them to do.Maybe most of us would have acted the same way, had we been exposed to the same long-standing, powerful conformity pressures as the members of Heaven’s Gate. According to this view, almost anyone would have conformed in these same extreme circumstances.
5 Conformity: When and Why But are we, in fact, nonconforming creatures?Are the decisions we make always based on what we think, or do we sometimes use other people’s behavior to help us decide what to do?But why have people conformed? Some probably conformed because they did not know what to do in a confusing or unusual situation.The behavior of the people around them served as a cue as to how to respond, and they decided to act in a similar manner.Other people probably conformed because they did not wish to be ridiculed or punished for being different from everybody else.They chose to act the way the group expected them to act so that they wouldn’t be rejected or thought less of by group members.ConformityA change in one’s behavior due to the real or imagined influence of other people.
6 Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What’s “Right” How should you address your psychology professor—as “Dr. Berman,” “Professor Berman,” “Ms. Berman,” or “Patricia”?How should you vote in the upcoming referendum that would raise your tuition to cover expanded student services?Do you cut a piece of sushi or eat it whole?Did the scream you just heard in the hallway come from a person joking with friends or from the victim of a mugging?In these and many other situations, we feel uncertain about what to think or how to act. We simply don’t know enough to make a good or accurate choice. Luckily, we have a powerful and useful source of knowledge available to us—the behavior of other people. Asking others what they think or watching what they do helps us reach a definition of the situation (Kelley, 1955; Thomas, 1928).When we subsequently act like everyone else, we are conforming, but not because we are weak, spineless individuals with no self-reliance. Instead, the influence of other people leads us to conform because we see them as a source of information to guide our behavior.
7 Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What’s “Right” The influence of other people that leads us to conform because we see them as a source of information to guide our behavior.We conform because we believe that others’ interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more correct than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of action.
8 Sherif (1936):Alone in a dark room, participants estimated how much a light 15 feet away moved.Even though the light did not move, the autokinetic effect caused the illusion of motion. The light seem to move, usually about 2-4 inches but as much as 10 inches.Days later, the participants did it again but not alone, this time with other people who reached a common estimate. Participants’ estimates tended to conform to these, as shown in the next slide.
9 These results indicate that people used each other as a source of information, coming to believe that the group estimate was correct.
10 Private AcceptanceConforming to other people’s behavior out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right.Public ComplianceConforming to other people’s behavior publicly without necessarily believing in what we are doing or saying.One study even found that people still conformed to the group estimate when they participated individually a year later (Rohrer, Baron, Hoffman, & Swander, 1954). These results suggest that people were relying on each other to define reality and came to privately accept the group estimate.Sherif cast doubt on public compliance, however, by asking people to judge the lights again when alone. They continued to give the group’s answer.
11 The Importance of Being Accurate The degree to which eyewitnesses conform to others when picking suspects out of police lineups depends on the importance of the task.Those who expected to receive $20 for accurate identification were correct most often when alone.However, when not alone, they sought information from others and conformed more regardless of accuracy.Baron, Vandello, & Brunsman (1996): Just like eyewitnesses of a real crime, the participants were asked to pick “perpetrators” out of lineups. For each of the thirteen tasks, the participants were first shown a slide of a man—the “perpetrator.” Next they saw a slide of a “lineup” composed of four men, one of whom was the perpetrator. In the lineup, the perpetrator was sometimes dressed differently than he had been in the prior slide. The participant’s job was to pick out the perpetrator. The task was made very difficult (to the point of ambiguity) by presenting the slides extremely quickly. Participants saw each slide for only half a second.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
12 When Informational Conformity Backfires When one’s personal safety is involved, the need for information is acute—and the behavior of others is very informative.A late-nineteenth-century social scientist, Gustav Le Bon (1895), was the first researcher to document how emotions and behavior can spread rapidly through a crowd—an effect he called contagion (Gump & Kulik, 1997; Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1993; Levy & Nail, 1993). As we have learned, in a truly ambiguous situation, people will most likely rely on the interpretation of others. Unfortunately, in a truly ambiguous and confusing situation, other people may be no more knowledgeable or accurate than we are. If other people are misinformed, we will adopt their mistakes and misinterpretations. Depending on others to help us define the situation can therefore sometimes lead us into serious inaccuracies.ContagionThe rapid spread of emotions or behaviors through a crowd.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
13 When Informational Conformity Backfires Mass Psychogenic IllnessThe occurrence, in a group of people, of similar physical symptoms with no known physical cause.In 1998, a teacher in Tennessee reported a gasoline smell in her classroom.The school was evacuated. Over 170 students, teachers, and staff reported symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness.But nothing was found to be wrong in the school.The rash of mysterious illness went away.An example of extreme and misdirected informational social influence is mass psychogenic illness (Bartholomew & Wessely, 2002; Colligan, Pennebaker, & Murphy, 1982), the occurrence of similar physical symptoms, with no known physical cause, in a group of people.
14 When Informational Conformity Backfires What is particularly interesting about mass psychogenic illness (as well as other peculiar forms of conformity) is the powerful role that the mass media play in their dissemination.Through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and , information is spread quickly and efficiently to all segments of the population.Whereas in the Middle Ages it took two hundred years for the “dancing manias” (a kind of psychogenic illness) to crisscross Europe, today it takes only minutes for most of the inhabitants of the planet to learn about an unusual event.Luckily, the mass media also have the power to quickly squelch these uprisings of contagion by introducing more logical explanations for ambiguous events.re: dancing manias - Sirois (1982)Source of images: Microsoft Office Online.
15 When Will People Conform to Informational Social Influence? When the situation is ambiguous.When the situation is a crisis.When other people are experts.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
16 When the situation is ambiguous AMBIGUITY IS THE MOST CRUCIAL VARIABLE FOR DETERMINING HOW MUCH PEOPLE USE EACH OTHER AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION.WHEN YOU ARE UNSURE OF THE CORRECT RESPONSE, THE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, OR THE RIGHT IDEA, YOU WILL BE MOST OPEN TO INFLUENCE FROM OTHERS.THE MORE UNCERTAIN YOU ARE, THE MORE YOU WILL RELY ON OTHERS.(ALLEN, 1965; TESSER, CAMPBELL, & MICKLER, 1983; WALTHER, ET AL., 2002). SITUATIONS SUCH AS MY LAI WERE AMBIGUOUS ONES FOR THE PEOPLE INVOLVED, IDEAL CIRCUMSTANCES FOR INFORMATIONAL SOCIAL INFLUENCE TO TAKE HOLD. THE SOLDIERS WERE YOUNG (TYPICALLY 18 OR 19) AND VERY UNEXPERIENCED. FOR MOST OF THEM, THIS WAS THEIR FIRST COMBAT SITUATION. WHEN THEY SAW A FEW OTHER SOLDIERS BEGIN SHOOTING AT THE VILLAGERS, MOST OF THEM THOUGHT THIS IS WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO TOO, AND THEY JOINED IN.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
17 When the situation is a crisis IN A CRISIS SITUATION, WE USUALLY DO NOT HAVE TIME TO STOP AND THINK ABOUT EXACTLY WHICH COURSE OF ACTION WE SHOULD TAKE. WE NEED TO ACT—IMMEDIATELY.IF WE FEEL SCARED AND PANICKY AND ARE UNCERTAIN WHAT TO DO, IT IS ONLY NATURAL FOR US TO SEE HOW OTHER PEOPLE ARE RESPONDING AND TO DO LIKEWISE.UNFORTUNATELY, THE PEOPLE WE IMITATE MAY ALSO FEEL SCARED AND PANICKY AND NOT BE BEHAVING RATIONALLY.The soldiers at My Lai, for example, expected to experience combat with the Vietcong when they arrived at the village of My Lai. They were undoubtedly scared and on edge. Further, it was not easy to tell who the enemy was. In the Vietnam War, Vietnamese civilians who were sympathizers of the Vietcong were known to have laid mines in the path of U.S. soldiers, fired guns from hidden locations, and thrown or planted grenades. In a guerrilla war like Vietnam, it was often difficult to tell if people were civilians or combatants, allies or enemies. So when one or two soldiers began firing on the villagers in My Lai, it is perhaps not surprising that others followed suit, believing this to be the proper course of action. Had the soldiers not been in a crisis situation and instead had more time to think about their actions, perhaps the tragedy would have been avoided.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
18 When the situation is a crisis TYPICALLY, THE MORE EXPERTISE OR KNOWLEDGE A PERSON HAS, THE MORE VALUABLE HE OR SHE WILL BE AS A GUIDE IN AN AMBIGUOUS SITUATION.FOR EXAMPLE, A PASSENGER WHO SEES SMOKE COMING OUT OF AN AIRPLANE ENGINE WILL PROBABLY CHECK THE FLIGHT ATTENDANTS’ REACTION RATHER THAN THEIR SEATMATES’.HOWEVER, EXPERTS ARE NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION.IMAGINE THE FEAR FELT BY THE YOUNG MAN LISTENING TO THE ORSON WELLES WAR OF THE WORLDS BROADCAST WHO CALLED HIS LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR AN EXPLANATION, ONLY TO LEARN THAT THE POLICE, TOO, THOUGHT THE EVENTS (MARTIAN INVASION) DESCRIBED ON THE RADIO WERE ACTUALLY HAPPENING (CANTRIL, 1940)!Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
19 Informational Social Influence and Emergencies An emergency is by definition a crisis situation.In many respects, it is an ambiguous situation as well; sometimes there are “experts” present, but sometimes there aren’t.In an emergency, the bystander is thinking: What’s happening? Is help needed? What should I do? What’s everybody else doing?Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
20 Resisting Informational Social Influence How can we tell when other people are a good source of information and when we should resist their definition of a situation?Remember it is possible to resist illegitimate or inaccurate informational social influence.Ask yourself critical questions:Do other people know any more about what is going on than I do?Is an expert handy who should know more?Do the actions of other people or experts seem sensible?If I behave the way they do, will it go against my common sense or against my internal moral compass, my sense of right and wrong?At My Lai, not all the soldiers took part in the atrocity. One sergeant said he’d been ordered to “destroy the village,” but he simply refused to follow the order. Another soldier, watching as the others fired on civilians, intentionally shot himself in the foot so that he would have an excuse to be evacuated from the killing scene. One helicopter pilot, looking down on the grisly sight, landed and scooped up fifteen Vietnamese children and ferried them off to safety deep in the forest. Thus some soldiers rejected the behavior of others as a correct definition of what they should do. Instead, they relied on what they knew was right and moral and refused to take part in the massacre of innocent people.Similarly, during the War of the Worlds broadcast, not all listeners panicked (Cantril, 1940). Some engaged in rational problem solving; they checked other stations on the radio dial and discovered that no other station was broadcasting the same news.
21 Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted Why do some adolescents engage in such risky behavior?Why does anyone follow the group’s lead when the resulting behavior is less than sensible and may even be dangerous?We also conform so that we will be liked and accepted by other people.
22 Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted Social NormsThe implicit or explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviors, values, and beliefs of its members.(Deutsch & Gerard, 1955; Kelley, 1955; Miller & Prentice, 1996)Groups have certain expectations about how the group members should behave, and members in good standing conform to these rules. Members who do not are perceived as different, difficult, and eventually deviant.Deviant members can be ridiculed, punished, or even rejected by other group members (James & Olson, 2000; Kruglanski & Webster, 1991; Levine, 1989; Miller & Anderson, 1979).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
23 Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted We human beings are by nature a social species.Through interactions with others, we receive emotional support, affection, and love, and we partake of enjoyable experiences.Other people are extraordinarily important to our sense of well-being.Research on individuals who have been isolated for long periods of time indicates that being deprived of human contact is stressful and traumatic.(Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Schachter, 1959; Williams, 2001)
24 Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted Given this fundamental human need for social companionship, it is not surprising that we often conform in order to be accepted by others.Normative Social InfluenceThe 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 behaviors but not necessarily private acceptance of those beliefs and behaviors.Conformity for normative reasons occurs in situations where we do what other people are doing not because we are using them as a source of information but because we won’t attract attention, be made fun of, get into trouble, or be rejected.Thus normative social influence occurs when the influence of other people 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 behaviors but not necessarily in private acceptance (Cialdini et al., 1991; Deutsch & Gerard, 1955; Levine, 1999; Nail, McDonald, & Levy, 2000).
25 Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted 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 behaviors but not necessarily private acceptance of those beliefs and behaviors.
26 Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies Solomon Asch (1951, 1956) had participants guess which line in the right box is the same length as the line on the left. Almost everyone easily gets this right – when alone.People conformed in the Sherif studies, Asch reasoned, because the situation was highly ambiguous—trying to guess how much a light was moving. But when a situation was completely unambiguous, Asch expected that people would act like rational, objective problem solvers. When the group said or did something that contradicted an obvious truth, surely people would resist social pressures and decide for themselves what was going on.
27 Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies Asch had people repeatedly evaluate lines like these, while hearing other people also evaluate the lines.Sometimes, though, everyone else got it wrong. Guess how often the participants conformed by repeating those obviously wrong answers.
28 76% of the participants conformed on at least one trial. In each group, all of the participants but one had been told earlier to give the wrong answer on twelve of the eighteen trials. What happened? Contrary to what Asch expected, a considerable amount of conformity occurred: Seventy-six percent of the participants conformed on at least one trial. On average, people conformed on about a third of the twelve trials on which the accomplices gave the incorrect answer76% of the participants conformed on at least one trial.
29 Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies These are classic normative reasons for conforming:People know that what they are doing is wrong but go along anyway so as not to feel peculiar or look like a fool.In contrast to informational social influence, normative pressures usually result in public compliance without private acceptance—people go along with the group even if they do not believe in what they are doing or think it is wrong.What is especially surprising about Asch’s results is that people were concerned about looking foolish in front of complete strangers. It is not as if the participants were in danger of being ostracized by a group that was important to them. Nor was there any risk of open punishment or disapproval for failing to conform or of losing the esteem of people they really cared about, such as friends and family members. Yet decades of research indicate that conformity for normative reasons can occur simply because we do not want to risk social disapproval, even from complete strangers we will never see again (Crutchfield, 1955; Tanford & Penrod, 1984).
30 Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line Judgment Studies In a variation of his study, Asch (1957) demonstrated the power of social disapproval in shaping a person’s behavior.The confederates gave the wrong answer 12 out of 18 times, as before, but this time the participants wrote their answers on a piece of paper instead of saying them out loud.Now people did not have to worry about what the group thought of them because the group would never find out what their answers were.Conformity dropped dramatically, occurring on an average of only 1.5 of the twelve trials.(Insko, Smith, Alicke, Wade, & Taylor, 1985; Nail, 1986)As Serge Moscovici (1985) observed, the Asch studies are “one of the most dramatic illustrations of conformity, of blindly going along with the group, even when the individual realizes that by doing so he turns his back on reality and truth” (p. 349).
31 Source of image: Microsoft Office Online. Recent research found that when participants conformed to a group’s wrong answers, fMRI indicated brain activity in areas for vision and perception.However, when participants chose to give the right answer and disagree with the group, different areas of the brain became active: the amygdala, an area devoted to negative emotions, and the right caudate nucleus, an area devoted to modulating social behavior.Recent research by Gregory Berns and his colleagues has provided biological evidence for just how unpleasant and uncomfortable it is to resist normative social influence (Berns, Chappelow, Zink, Pagnoni, Martin-Skurski, & Richards, 2005).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
32 The Importance of Being Accurate, Revisited What happens when it is important to people to be accurate?They conform less to the obviously wrong answers of the group.But they still conform sometimes!(Baron et al., 1996; Hornsey, Majkut, Terry & McKimmie, 2003).
33 The Importance of Being Accurate, Revisited What happens when it is important to people to be accurate?They conform less to the obviously wrong answers of the group.But they still conform sometimes!Even when the group is wrong, the right answer is obvious, and there are strong incentives to be accurate, some people will find it difficult to risk social disapproval, even from strangers.Normative social influence most closely reflects the negative stereotype of conformity we referred to earlier. At times, conforming for normative reasons can be spineless and weak; it can have negative consequences. Even in a dangerous situation, like that faced by the Brazilian teenagers who surf on top of trains, you might go ahead and conform because normative social pressures can be difficult to resist. The desire to be accepted is part of human nature, but it can have tragic consequences.
34 The Consequences of Resisting Normative Social Influence If you disregard the friendship norms of the group by failing to conform to them, two things would most likely happen:First, the group would try to bring you “back into the fold,” chiefly through increased communication with you, whether long discussions or teasing comments.If these discussions didn’t work, your friends would most likely say negative things to you and about you, and start to withdraw from you.Teasing comments and long discussions would ensue as your friends tried to figure out why you were acting so strangely and would try to get you to conform to their expectations (Garfinkle, 1967).(Festinger & Thibaut, 1951).Now, in effect, you’ve been rejected (Abrams, Marques, Bown & Henson, 2000; Hornsey, Jetten, McAuliffe & Hogg, 2006; Kruglanski & Webster, 1991; Levine, 1989; Milgram & Sabini, 1978).
35 Normative Social Influence in Everyday Life Although most of us are not slaves to fashion, we tend to wear what is considered appropriate at a given time.Fads are another fairly frivolous example of normative social influence.The wide ties popular in the 1970s gave way to narrow ties in the 1980s; and hemlines dropped from mini to maxi and rose again in the 1990s. Normative social influence is at work whenever you notice a look shared by people in a certain group, and no matter what it is, it will look outdated just a few years later until the fashion industry declares it stylish again.Certain activities or objects can suddenly become popular and sweep the country. In the late 1950s, every child had to have a Hula-Hoop or risk social ostracism. College students swallowed live goldfish in the 1930s, crammed as many people as possible into telephone booths in the 1950s, and “streaked” (ran naked) at official gatherings in the 1970s.
36 SOCIAL INFLUENCE AND WOMEN’S BODY IMAGE A MORE SINISTER FORM OF NORMATIVE SOCIAL INFLUENCE INVOLVES WOMEN’S ATTEMPTS TO CONFORM TO CULTURAL DEFINITIONS OF AN ATTRACTIVE BODY.WHILE MANY, IF NOT MOST, WORLD SOCIETIES CONSIDER PLUMPNESS IN FEMALES ATTRACTIVE, WESTERN CULTURE AND PARTICULARLY AMERICAN CULTURE CURRENTLY VALUE EXTREME THINNESS IN THE FEMALE FORM.(ANDERSON, CRAWFORD, NADEAU, & LINDBERG, 1992; FOUTS & BURGGRAF, 1999; JACKSON, 1992; THOMPSON & HEINBERG, 1999; WEEDEN & SABINI, 2005)Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
37 HEAVY WOMEN WERE FOUND TO BE PREFERRED OVER SLENDER OR MODERATE ONES IN CULTURES WITH UNRELIABLE OR SOMEWHAT UNRELIABLE FOOD SUPPLIES.AS THE RELIABILITY OF THE FOOD SUPPLY INCREASES, THE PREFERENCE FOR HEAVY-TO-MODERATE BODIES DECREASES.MOST DRAMATIC IS THE INCREASE IN PREFERENCE FOR THE SLENDER BODY ACROSS CULTURES.ONLY IN CULTURES WITH VERY RELIABLE FOOD SUPPLIES (LIKE THE UNITED STATES) WAS THE SLENDER BODY TYPE HIGHLY VALUED.Judith Anderson and her colleagues (1992) analyzed what people in fifty-four cultures considered the ideal female body: a heavy body, a body of moderate weight, or a slender body. The researchers also analyzed how reliable the food supply was in each culture. They hypothesized that in societies where food was frequently scarce, a heavy body would be considered the most beautiful: These would be women who had enough to eat and therefore were healthy and fertile. As you can see in Figure 8.4, their hypothesis was supported.
38 Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson, & Kelly (1986): The researchers measured the women’s busts and waists in centimeters, creating a bust-to-waist ratio. A high score indicates a heavier, more voluptuous body, while a lower score indicates a thin, lean body type. Their results show a startling series of changes in the cultural definition of female bodily attractiveness during the twentieth century.At the turn of the twentieth century, an attractive woman was voluptuous and heavy; by the “flapper” period of the 1920s, the correct look for women was rail-thin and flat-chested. The normative body changed again in the 1940s, when World War II “pinup girls” like Betty Grable exemplified a heavier standard. The curvaceous female body remained popular during the 1950s; witness, for example, Marilyn Monroe. However, the “swinging 1960s” fashion look, exemplified by the reed-thin British model Twiggy, introduced a very thin silhouette again. The average bust-to-waist ratio has been very low since 1963, marking the longest period of time in the past century that American women have been exposed to an extremely thin standard of feminine physical attractiveness (Barber, 1998; Garner, Garfinkel, Schwartz, & Thompson, 1980; Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, & Ahrens, 1992).In the 1980s, Brett Silverstein and her colleagues analyzed photographs of women appearing in Ladies’ Home Journal and Vogue magazines from 1901 to 1981, and found how presentation of women had changed over the century.
39 SOCIAL INFLUENCE AND WOMEN’S BODY IMAGE Standards for physical attractiveness for Japanese women have also undergone changes in recent decades.Since World War II, the preferred look has taken on a “Westernized” element—long-legged, thin bodies or what is called the “hattou shin beauty.”And this cultural shift has had an effect—Japanese women experience strong normative pressures to be thin (Mukai, 1996). In fact, researchers who studied Japanese and American college-aged women found that the Japanese women were even more likely than the American women to perceive themselves as being overweight. They also reported greater dissatisfaction with their bodies than the American women did. All this occurred despite the fact that the Japanese women were significantly thinner than the American women. In addition, these researchers found that participants’ “need for social approval” as measured on a questionnaire was a significant predictor of eating disorders for the Japanese women but not for the American women. Japanese culture places a greater emphasis on conformity than American culture, and hence the normative pressure to be thin operates with even more serious consequences for Japanese women (Mukai et al., 1998).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
40 SOCIAL INFLUENCE AND WOMEN’S BODY IMAGE Informational social influence affects how women learn what kind of body is considered attractive at a given time in their culture.Women learn what an attractive body is (and how they compare) from family and friends and from the media.All forms of media have been implicated in sending a message that the ideal female body is thin. For example, researchers have coded the articles and advertisements in magazines aimed at teenage girls and adult women, as well as female characters on television shows (Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Levine & Smolak, 1996; Nemeroff, Stein, Diehl & Smilack Stein, Diehl, & Smilack, 1995). Women tend to perceive themselves as overweight and as heavier than they actually are (Cohn & Adler, 1992), and this effect is heightened if they’ve just been exposed to media portrayals of thin women (Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge, 1998; Heinberg & Thompson, 1995; Lavine, Sweeney, & Wagner, 1999). Given that the average American woman is 5’4” and 140 pounds, and the average American advertising model is 5’11” and 117 pounds, this result is not surprising (Locken & Peck, 2005).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
41 SOCIAL INFLUENCE AND WOMEN’S BODY IMAGE Crandall (1988) found that sororities each develop their own group norms regarding eating disorders.Binge eating served as a form of normative social influence.Throughout the year, new members conformed to their respective sororities group norms.Christian Crandall (1988) has conducted research on conformity pressures and eating disorders—in this case, bulimia, an eating pattern characterized by periodic episodes of uncontrolled binge eating, followed by periods of purging through fasting, vomiting, or using laxatives. Crandall’s research participants belonged to two college sororities. He found, first, that each sorority had its own social norm for binge eating. In one sorority, the group norm was that the more one binged, the more popular one was in the group. In the other sorority, popularity was associated with bingeing the right amount—the most popular women binged not too often and not too infrequently, compared to the others.Did binge eating operate as a form of normative social influence? Yes, it did. Crandall tested the women throughout the school year and found that new members had conformed to the eating patterns of their friends. Probably, the initial conforming behavior was informational, as a new pledge learned from the group how to manage her weight. However, normative conformity processes would then take over as the woman matched her bingeing behavior to the sorority’s standard and that of her friends. Not to engage in the behavior or to do it differently from the others could easily have resulted in a loss of popularity and even ostracism.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
42 Social Influence and Men’s Body Image Studies conducted in the past decade suggest that cultural norms have changed in that men are beginning to come under the same pressure to achieve an ideal body that women have experienced for decades.The ideal male body is now much more muscular.(Cafri, et al., 2005; Cafri & Thompson, 2004; Morry & Staska, 2001; Petrie et al., 1996)Pope and colleagues (Pope, Gruber et al., 2000) asked men in the United States, France, and Austria to alter a computer image of a male body in terms of fat and muscle until it reflected first, their own bodies; second, the body they’d like to have; and finally, the body they thought women would find most attractive. The men were quite accurate in their depiction of their own bodies. However, men in all three countries chose an ideal body that had on average 28 more pounds of muscle than their own. This ideal standard was also the body they chose for what they thought women would find attractive. (In fact, when women participants did the task, they chose a very normal, typical-looking male body as their ideal.)Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
43 Social Influence and Men’s Body Image Adolescent and young men respond to pressure by developing strategies to achieve the ideal, “six-pack” body.An increasing number are also using risky substances such as steroids or ephedrine to achieve a more muscular physique.For example, results from a number of studies indicate that 21% to 42% of young men have altered their eating habits in order to gain muscle mass and/or weight, while 12% to 26% have dieted in order to reduce body fat/weight.(McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2003a; 2003b; Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2003).(Cafri, et al., 2005). All of these data suggest that informational and normative social influence are now be operating on men, affecting their perceptions of their bodies’ attractiveness.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
44 When Will People Conform to Normative Social Influence? Social Impact TheoryThe idea that conforming to social influence depends on:The strength of the group’s importance,Its immediacy, andThe number of people in the group.Bibb Latané’s (1981) social impact theory.
45 When Will People Conform to Normative Social Influence? The more important a group is to us and the more we are in its presence, the more likely we will be to conform to its normative pressures.But the influence of number operates differently.
46 Going from three people to four makes more of a difference than going from fifty-three people to fifty-four.Latané constructed a mathematical model that captures these hypothesized effects of strength, immediacy, and number and has applied this formula to the results of many conformity studies. It has effectively predicted the actual amount of conformity that occurred (Bourgeois & Bowen, 2001; Latané, 1981; Latane & Bourgeois, 2001; Latané & L’Herrou, 1996).As the size of the group increases, each additional person has less effect.
47 WHEN THE GROUP SIZE IS THREE OR MORE ASCH (1955) AND LATER RESEARCHERS FOUND THAT:CONFORMITY INCREASED AS THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THE GROUP INCREASED, BUTONCE THE GROUP REACHED FOUR OR FIVE OTHER PEOPLE, CONFORMITY DOES NOT INCREASE MUCH.AS MARK TWAIN WROTE IN THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, “HAIN’T WE GOT ALL THE FOOLS IN TOWN ON OUR SIDE? AND AIN’T THAT A BIG ENOUGH MAJORITY IN ANY TOWN?”Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
48 WHEN THE GROUP IS IMPORTANT NORMATIVE PRESSURES ARE MUCH STRONGER WHEN THEY COME FROM PEOPLE WHOSE FRIENDSHIP, LOVE, AND RESPECT, BECAUSE THERE IS A COST TO LOSING THIS LOVE AND RESPECT.HIGHLY COHESIVE GROUPS CAN MAKE LESS LOGICAL DECISIONS BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO UPSET RELATIONSHIPS.THUS GROUPS TO WHICH WE ARE HIGHLY ATTRACTED AND WITH WHICH WE STRONGLY IDENTIFY WILL EXERT MORE NORMATIVE INFLUENCE ON US THAN GROUPS FOR WHICH WE HAVE LITTLE OR NO ATTACHMENT (ABRAMS, WETHERELL, COCHRANE, HOGG, & TURNER, 1990; GUIMOND, 1999; HOGG, 1992; NOWAK, SZAMREJ, & LATANÉ, 1990; WOLF, 1985).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
49 WHEN ONE HAS NO ALLIES IN THE GROUP If no one else in the group expresses agreement with your dissenting view, it can be difficult to stick to your position.Asch (1955) varied his experiment by having 6 of 7 confederates pick the wrong line instead of all 7.Now the subject was not alone.Conformity dropped to 6% of the trials, as opposed to 32% when alone.Several other studies have found that observing another person resist normative social influence emboldens the individual to do the same (Allen & Levine, 1969; Morris & Miller, 1975; Nemeth & Chiles, 1988).
50 WHEN ONE HAS NO ALLIES IN THE GROUP The difficulty of being the lone dissenter is apparent even in the U.S. Supreme Court.The most common decision ratio is unanimous, 9-0 vote among the Justices.The least common decision ratio is 8-1 with a single dissenter.A content-analysis of all the Supreme Court decisions from 1953 to 2001 (4,178 decisions, involving 29 different Justices) indicated that the most common decision was the 9-0, unanimous one (35% of all decisions). And the least common decision? The one that required one Justice to disagree with all of his or her colleagues, the 8-1 split, which accounted for only 10% of the decisions over 48 years (Granberg & Bartels, 2005).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
51 WHEN THE GROUP’S CULTURE IS COLLECTIVISTIC STANLEY MILGRAM (1961, 1977) REPLICATED THE ASCH STUDIES IN NORWAY AND FRANCE AND FOUND THAT THE NORWEGIAN PARTICIPANTS CONFORMED TO A GREATER DEGREE THAN THE FRENCH PARTICIPANTS DID.NORWAY HAS A MORE COLLECTIVISTIC CULTURE THAN FRANCE.THESE DIFFERENCES WERE OBSERVED IN OTHER INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS AS WELL.In a meta-analysis of 133 Asch line-judgment studies conducted in seventeen countries, researchers found that cultural values affected normative social influence (Bond & Smith, 1996).Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
52 GENDER DIFFERENCES IN CONFORMITY Eagly & Carli (1981):META-ANALYSIS OF 145 STUDIES OF INFLUENCEABILITY THAT INCLUDED MORE THAN 21,000 PARTICIPANTS FOUND THAT, ON AVERAGE, MEN ARE LESS PRONE TO BEING INFLUENCED THAN WOMEN.BUT THE SIZE OF THE DIFFERENCE WAS VERY SMALL.ONLY SLIGHTLY MORE THAN HALF OF MEN ARE LESS INFLUENCEABLE THAN THE AVERAGE WOMAN.DO WOMEN AND MEN DIFFER IN HOW READILY THEY CONFORM TO SOCIAL PRESSURES? FOR MANY YEARS, THE PREVAILING WISDOM HAS BEEN TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION IN THE AFFIRMATIVE: WOMEN ARE MORE CONFORMING THAN MEN (CRUTCHFIELD, 1955). FOR DECADES, THIS WAS PRESENTED AS A FACT. REVIEWS OF THE LITERATURE, HOWEVER, HAVE SHOWN THAT MATTERS ARE NOT SO SIMPLE. RESEARCHERS HAVE TAKEN AN OBJECTIVE LOOK AT THIS QUESTION BY CONDUCTING META-ANALYSES. (RECALL FROM CHAPTER 2 THAT A META-ANALYSIS IS A STATISTICAL TECHNIQUE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO COMBINE RESULTS ACROSS A LARGE NUMBER OF STUDIES AND COME UP WITH A MEANINGFUL STATISTICAL SUMMARY.)Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
53 GENDER DIFFERENCES IN CONFORMITY One other finding in this area is surprising and controversial.The gender of the person conducting conformity studies makes a difference too.Eagly and Carli (1981) found that male researchers were more likely than female researchers to find that men were less influenceable.They suggest that researchers may be more likely to use experimental materials and situations that are familiar to their own gender.Male researchers, for example, may be more likely than female researchers to study how people conform to persuasive messages about sports.We’ve seen that people are more likely to conform when confronted with an unfamiliar, ambiguous situation; thus women may be more likely to conform in the unfamiliar situations designed by male experimenters.Source of image: Microsoft Office Online.
54 Resisting Normative Social Influence What can we do to resist inappropriate normative social influence?Be aware that it is operating.Take action.Try to find an ally3. Conforming most of the time earns an occasional deviation without consequences.Edwin Hollander (1958, 1960) stated that conforming to a group over time earns you idiosyncrasy credits, much like putting money in the bank. It’s as if your past conformity allows you, at some point in the future, to deviate from the group (to act idiosyncratically) without getting into too much trouble. If you refuse to lend your car, for example, your friends may not become upset with you if you have followed their friendship norms in other areas in the past, for you’ve earned the right to deviate from their normative rules in this area. Thus resisting normative influence may not be as difficult (or as scary) as you might think, if you have earned idiosyncrasy credits with the group.
55 Resisting Normative Social Influence Idiosyncrasy CreditsThe tolerance a person earns, over time, by conforming to group norms; if enough idiosyncrasy credits are earned, the person can, on occasion, behave deviantly without retribution from the group.What can we do to resist inappropriate normative social influence?Be aware that it is operating.Take action.Try to find an ally.3. Conforming most of the time earns an occasional deviation without consequences.Edwin Hollander (1958, 1960) stated that conforming to a group over time earns you idiosyncrasy credits, much like putting money in the bank. It’s as if your past conformity allows you, at some point in the future, to deviate from the group (to act idiosyncratically) without getting into too much trouble. If you refuse to lend your car, for example, your friends may not become upset with you if you have followed their friendship norms in other areas in the past, for you’ve earned the right to deviate from their normative rules in this area. Thus resisting normative influence may not be as difficult (or as scary) as you might think, if you have earned idiosyncrasy credits with the group.
56 Minority Influence: When the Few Influence the Many The case where a minority of group members influence the behavior or beliefs of the majority.The key is consistency:People with minority views must express the same view over time.Different members of the minority must agree with one another.If a person in the minority wavers between two different viewpoints or if two individuals express different minority views, the majority will dismiss them as people who have peculiar and groundless opinions.If, however, the minority expresses a consistent, unwavering view, the majority is likely to take notice and may even adopt the minority view (Moscovici & Nemeth, 1974). For example, a minority of scientists began to raise concerns about global warming over two decades ago. Today the majority is paying attention; political leaders from the industrialized nations have met to discuss possible worldwide solutions.
57 Using Social Influence to Promote Beneficial Behavior Robert Cialdini, Raymond Reno, and Carl Kallgren have developed a model of normative conduct in which social norms (the rules that a society has for acceptable behaviors, values, and beliefs) can be used to subtly induce people to conform to correct, socially approved behavior.(Cialdini, Kallgren, & Reno, 1991; Kallgren, Reno, & Cialdini, 2000)
58 Using Social Influence to Promote Beneficial Behavior Cialdini and his colleagues (1991) suggest that first we need to focus on what kind of norm is operating in the situation.Only then can we invoke a form of social influence that will encourage people to conform in socially beneficial ways.
59 Injunctive NormsPeople’s perceptions of what behaviors are approved or disapproved of by others.Descriptive NormsPeople’s perceptions of how people actually behave in given situations, regardless of whether the behavior is approved or disapproved of by others.Injunctive norms motivate behavior by promising rewards (or punishments) for normative (or nonnormative) behavior. For example, an injunctive norm in our culture is that littering is wrong.Descriptive norms motivate behavior by informing people about what is effective or adaptive behavior. For example, while we all know that littering is wrong (an injunctive norm), we also all know that there are times and situations when people are likely to do it (a descriptive norm)—for example, dropping peanut shells on the ground at a baseball game or leaving your trash behind at your seat in a movie theater.
60 The Role of Injunctive and Descriptive Norms Establishing norms can influence littering behavior.In one field experiment, patrons of a city library were returning to their cars in the parking lot when a confederate approached them (Reno, Cialdini, & Kallgren, 1993). In one condition, the control group, the confederate just walked by, saying and doing nothing. In the descriptive norm condition, the confederate was carrying an empty bag from a fast-food restaurant and dropped the bag on the ground before passing the participant. By littering, the confederate was subtly communicating “what people do in this situation.” In the injunctive norm condition, the confederate was not carrying anything but instead picked up a littered fast-food bag from the ground before passing the participant. By picking up someone else’s litter, the confederate was subtly communicating that “littering is wrong.” These three conditions occurred in one of two environments—either the parking lot was heavily littered (by the experimenters, using paper cups, candy wrappers, and so on), or the area was clean and unlittered (cleaned up by the experimenters).
61 OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY Obedience is a social norm that is valued in every culture.You simply can’t have people doing whatever they want all the time—it would result in chaos.Consequently, we are socialized, beginning as children, to obey authority figures whom we perceive as legitimate.(Blass, 2000; Staub, 1989)
62 OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY We internalize the social norm of obedience such that we usually obey rules and laws even when the authority figure isn’t present—you stop at red lights even if the cops aren’t parked at the corner.However, obedience can have extremely serious and even tragic consequences.People will obey the orders of an authority figure to hurt or even kill other human beings.The twentieth century was marked by repeated atrocities and genocides—in Germany and the rest of Europe, Armenia, the Ukraine, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Sudan, and elsewhere. One of the most important questions facing the world’s inhabitants therefore becomes, where does obedience end and personal responsibility begin? The philosopher Hannah Arendt (1965) was particularly interested in understanding the causes of the Holocaust. How could Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany accomplish the murder of 6 million European Jews? Arendt argued that most participants in the Holocaust were not sadists or psychopaths who enjoyed the mass murder of innocent people but ordinary citizens subjected to complex and powerful social pressures. She covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official responsible for the transportation of Jews to the death camps, and concluded that he was not the monster that many people made him out to be but a commonplace bureaucrat like any other bureaucrat who did what he was told without questioning his orders (Miller, 1995).
63 OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY How can we be sure that the Holocaust, My Lai, and other mass atrocities were not caused solely by evil, psychopathic people but by powerful social forces operating on people of all types?Stanley Milgram (1963, 1974, 1976) decided to find out, in what has become the most famous series of studies in social psychology.
64 OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY Imagine that you were a participant in one of Milgram’s studies.When you arrive at the laboratory, you meet another participant, a 47-year-old, somewhat overweight, pleasant-looking fellow.The experimenter, wearing a white lab coat, explains that one of you will play the role of a teacher and the other a learner.You draw a slip of paper out of a hat and discover that you will be the teacher.Your job is to teach the other participant a list of word pairs (e.g., blue–box, nice–day) and then test him on the list.The experimenter instructs you to deliver an electric shock to the learner whenever he makes a mistake because the purpose of the study is to examine the effects of punishment on learning.
65 OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY Imagine that you were a participant in one of Milgram’s studies.The learner makes many mistakes.The experimenter instructs you to keep shocking the learner.What would you do?And how many people do you think would continue to obey the experimenter and increase the levels of shock until they had delivered the maximum amount, 450 volts?Psychology majors at Yale University estimated that only about 1% of the population would go to this extreme.A sample of middle-class adults and a panel of psychiatrists made similar predictions.
66 Imagine you are Milgram’s volunteer: You read the list of word pairs to the learner and then begin the testing phase. After announcing the first word of a pair, you give four possible answers; the learner responds by pressing one of four switches, which illuminates a light on the answer box in front of you. Everything begins smoothly as the learner gets the first few right. Then he gets some wrong, and as instructed, you deliver the shocks. At this point, you are probably getting concerned about the number and severity of the shocks you will have to give. When you get to the 75-volt level, the learner, whom you can hear over an intercom, emits a painful “Ugh!” Perhaps you pause and ask the experimenter what you should do. “Please continue,” he responds. As the learner continues to make mistakes, you deliver a few more shocks. The learner protests, shouting, “Ugh! Experimenter! That’s all! Get me out of here!” You look at the experimenter with grave concern. He tells you, “It is absolutely essential that you continue.”
67 OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY Most of Milgram’s participants succumbed to the pressure of an authority figure.The average maximum shock delivered was 360 volts, and 62.5% of the participants went all the way, delivering the 450-volt shock.A full 80 percent of the participants continued giving the shocks even after the learner cried out seemingly in pain, saying his heart was bothering him.Note: No learners were harmed in the making of Milgram’s experiments. The learner was a confederate working with Milgram, only pretending to get shocked.
68 The Role of Normative Social Influence The obedience experiment was a confusing situation for participants, with competing, ambiguous demands.Unclear about how to define what was going on, they followed the orders of the expert, the authority figure.
69 Other Reasons We ObeyParticipants conformed to the wrong norm: They continued to follow the “obey authority” norm when it was no longer appropriate.It was difficult for them to abandon this norm for three reasons:The fast-paced nature of the experiment,The fact that the shock levels increased in small increments,Their loss of a feeling of personal responsibility.
70 Social Psychology Elliot Aronson Timothy D. Wilson Robin M. Akert 6th editionElliot AronsonUniversity of California, Santa CruzTimothy D. WilsonUniversity of VirginiaRobin M. AkertWellesley Collegeslides by Travis LangleyHenderson State University
Your consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website.