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Social Psychology. Psychology: A Concise Introduction 2 nd Edition Richard Griggs Chapter 9. Prepared by J. W. Taylor V. Social Psychology. The scientific study of how we influence one another’s behavior and thinking

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Social Psychology


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    1. Social Psychology Psychology: A Concise Introduction2nd Edition Richard Griggs Chapter 9 Prepared byJ. W. Taylor V

    2. Social Psychology • The scientific study of how we influence one another’s behavior and thinking • Social psychology’s focus is on how situational forces influence our behavior and thinking

    3. The Journey… • How Others Influence Our Behavior • How We Think about Our Own and Others’ Behavior

    4. How Others Influence Our Behavior Why We Conform Why We Comply Why We Obey How Groups Influence Us

    5. Social Influence • Examines how other people and the social forces they create influence an individual’s behavior

    6. Why We Conform • Conformity is defined as a change in behavior, belief, or both to conform to a group norm as a result of real or imagined group pressure • Although “conformity” has negative connotations in Western cultures, some conformity is needed for society to function • For instance, in the military, conformity is essential because in a time of war, soldiers cannot each do his or her own thing while in battle

    7. Why We Conform Informational Social Influence NormativeSocialInfluence SituationalFactors

    8. The Sherif Study and Informational Social Influence • Participants, who thought they were in a visual perception experiment, were placed in a completely dark room and exposed to a stationary point of light, and their task was to estimate the distance this light moved • The light never moved; it was an illusion called the autokinetic effect, whereby a stationary point of light appears to move in a dark room because there is no frame of reference and our eyes spontaneously move

    9. The Sherif Study and Informational Social Influence • During the first session, each participant was alone in the dark room when making their judgments • But during the next three sessions, they were in the room with two other participants and could hear each others estimates of the illusory light movement • The average individual estimates varied greatly during the first session • During the next three sessions, though, the individual estimates converged on a common group norm • A year later, participants were brought back and made estimates alone; yet, these estimates remained at the group norm

    10. The Sherif Study and Informational Social Influence • This pattern of results suggests the impact of informational social influence, which is influence that stems from our desire to be correct in situations in which the correct action of judgment is uncertain and we need information • When a task is ambiguous or difficult and we want to be correct, we look to others for information • For instance, when visiting a foreign culture, it is usually a good idea to watch how the people living in that culture behave in various situations because they provide information to outsiders on how to behave in that culture

    11. The Asch Study and Normative Social Influence • In Asch’s study, the visual judgments were easy visual discriminations involving line-length judgments • Specifically, participants had to judge which one of three lines was the same length as a “standard line” • In this study, the correct answer/behavior was obvious • Indeed, when making such judgments alone, almost no one made any mistakes

    12. An Example of Asch’s Line-Length Judgment Task

    13. The Asch Study and Normative Social Influence • In Asch’s study, there were other “participants” who were in fact experimental confederates, part of the experimental setting • On each trial, judgments were made orally, and Asch structured the situation so the experimental confederates responded before the true participant • These experimental confederates arranged to make mistakes on certain trials in an effort to see how the “real” participant would respond when asked to make line length judgments

    14. The Asch Study and Normative Social Influence • About 75% of the participants gave an obviously wrong answer at least once, and overall, conformity occurred 37% of the time • This conformity occurred despite the fact the “correct” answer, unlike in Sherif’s study, was obvious

    15. The Asch Study and Normative Social Influence • Asch’s results illustrate the power of normative social influence, influence stemming from our desire to gain the approval and to avoid the disapproval of other people • In essence, we change our behavior to meet the expectations of others and to gain the acceptance of others • If the line-length judgments were extremely difficult, and the correct answers were not clear, then informational social influence would likely lead to even higher levels of conformity

    16. Situational Factors that Impact Conformity • If the group is unanimous, conformity will increase • Asch found that the amount of conformity decreased considerably if just one of the experimental confederate participants gives the correct answer, or even an incorrect answer that is different from the incorrect answer all other confederates gave • As one person is “different” somehow, it allows other people to avoid conforming.

    17. Situational Factors that Impact Conformity • The mode of responding is also critical • Secret ballots lead to less conformity than public, verbal reports • The status of group members intervenes • More conformity is observed from a person that is of lesser status than the other group members or is attracted to the group and wants to be part of it

    18. Why We Comply • Compliance is acting in accordance to a direct request from another person or group • Occurs in many facets of life (e.g., salespeople, fundraisers, politicians, and anyone else who wants to get people to say “yes” to their requests)

    19. Compliance Techniques Foot-in-the-door Door-in-the-face Low-ball That’s-not-all

    20. The Foot-in-the-Door Technique • Here, compliance to a large request is gained by prefacing it with a very small, almost mindless request • The tendency is for people who have complied with the small request to comply with the next, larger request • In Freedman and Fraser’s (1966) classic study, some people were asked directly to put a large ugly sign urging careful driving in their front yards • Almost all such people refused the large ugly sign • However, some other people were first asked to sign a petition urging careful driving • Two weeks after signing this petition (that is, agreeing to a rather small request), the majority of these latter people agreed to allow the large ugly sign in the front yards

    21. The Foot-in-the-Door Technique • This technique seems to work because our behavior (complying with the initial request) affects our attitudes, leading us to be more positive about helping and to view ourselves as generally charitable people • In addition, once we have made a commitment (such as signing a safe driving petition), we feel pressure to remain consistent (by putting up the large ugly sign) with the earlier action

    22. The Foot-in-the-Door Technique • The technique was used by the Communist Chinese in the Korean War on prisoners of war • Many prisoners returning home after the war praised the Chinese Communists because while in captivity, the prisoners did small things such as writing out questions and then providing the pro-Communist answers, which often they just copied from a notebook • Such minor actions induced more sympathy for the Communist cause

    23. The Door-in-the-Face Technique • The opposite of the foot-in-the-door technique • Compliance is gained by starting with a large unreasonable request that is turned down, and then following it with a more reasonable smaller request • It is the smaller request that the person making the two requests wants someone to comply with

    24. The Door-in-the-Face Technique • For instance, a teenager may ask his parents if he can have a new sports car for his 16th birthday • His parents are likely to refuse • Then, the teenager asks his parents to help him pay for a used 20-year-old car, which is what he wanted his parents to help him with all along

    25. The Door-in-the-Face Technique • The success of the door-in-the-face technique is due to our tendency toward reciprocity, that is, making mutual concessions • The person making the requests appears to have made a concession by moving to the much smaller request so shouldn’t we reciprocate and comply with this smaller request?

    26. The Low-Ball Technique • Compliance to a costly request is achieved by first getting compliance to an attractive, less costly request, but then reneging on it • This is similar to the foot-in-the-door technique in that a second larger request is the one desired all along • Low-balling works because many of us feel obligated to go through with the deal after we have agreed to the earlier request, even if the first request has changed for the worse • We want to remain consistent in our actions

    27. The That’s-Not-All Technique • People are more likely to comply to a request after a build-up to make the request sound “better” • Often in infomercials on TV, for example, the announcer says “But wait, that’s not all, there’s more!” and the price is lowered or more merchandise is added to sweeten the deal, usually before you even have a chance to respond • Similarly, a car salesperson is likely to throw in additional options as bonuses before you can answer yes or no to a price offered

    28. The That’s-Not-All Technique • As in the door-in-the-face technique, reciprocity is at work • The seller has done you a favor (thrown in bonus options, lowered the price), so you “should” reciprocate by accepting the offer (i.e., comply)

    29. Four Compliance Techniques

    30. Why We Obey • Obedienceis following the commands of a person in authority • Obedience is good in some instances, such as obeying societal laws • Obedience is bad in other instances, such as in the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, when American soldiers were ordered to shoot innocent villagers (and they did so)

    31. Why We Obey Milgram’sExperiment The “Astroten” Study SituationalFactors

    32. Milgram’s Basic Experimental Paradigm • Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies were done primarily at Yale University in the early 1960s • Imagine that you have volunteered to be in an experiment on learning and memory • You show up at the assigned time and place, and there is the experimenter and another participant there

    33. Milgram’s Basic Experimental Paradigm • The experimenter tells you both that the study is examining the effects of punishment by electric shock on learning, and specifically learning a list of word pairs • One of the participants will be the teacher and the other participants will be the learner • You draw slips for these roles, and you draw the slip of the teacher, so the other participant will be the learner

    34. Milgram’s Basic Experimental Paradigm • You accompany the learner to an adjoining room where he is strapped into a chair with one arm hooked up to the shock generator in the other room • The shock levels in the study range from 15 volts to 450 volts • The experimenter gives you, the teacher, a “test shock” of 45 volts so that you know how intense various shock levels will be

    35. Milgram’s Basic Experimental Paradigm • You return to your room with the shock generator • You notice that on the shock generator, each switch has a label for each level of shock, starting at 15 volts and going to 450 volts in 15-volt increments • There are also some verbal labels below the switches, “Slight Shock,” “Very Strong Shock,” “Danger: Severe Shock,” and under the last two switches “XXX” in red. • Each time the learner makes a mistake, he is to receive a shock, which should increase one 15-volt level for each additional mistake

    36. Milgram’s Basic Experimental Paradigm • As the experiment begins, the learner makes some mistakes, and you as the teacher throw the shock lever as instructed by the experimenter • At 120 volts, the learner cries out that the shocks really hurt • As the learner continues to make mistakes, he protests and says that he has a heart condition and that he refuses to continue with the experiment, demanding to be let out of his chair • After a 330-volt shock, he fails to respond with any protest • You turn to the experimenter to see what to do, and the experimenter says to treat no response as an incorrect response and continue with the experiment

    37. Milgram’s Initial Obedience Finding • Before this experiment was run, Milgram asked various types of people what they and other people would do • Most people thought people would stop at relatively low shock levels • Psychiatrists said that maybe one person in a thousand would go to the end of the shock generator

    38. Milgram’s Initial Obedience Findings • In reality, almost two out of every three participants (65%) continued to obey the experimenter and administered the maximum possible shock of 450 volts • This is particularly disturbing because the learner had mentioned a heart condition before the experiment started and during his protests • It is important to realize that the learner was a confederate who was programmed to make mistakes and was never really shocked • But the teacher thought that he was administering real shocks because of real mistakes

    39. InterpretingMilgram’s Findings • The difference between what we say we will do and what we actually do illustrates the power of situational social forces on our behavior • The foot-in-the-door technique was used because participants started off giving very mild shocks (15 volts) and increased the voltage relatively slowly • The learner did not protest these early shocks, and the teacher had obeyed several times before the learner started his protests

    40. InterpretingMilgram’s Findings • It should be noted that later studies with female participants found similar obedience rates, and other researchers have replicated Milgram’s basic finding in many different cultures (e.g., Jordan, Spain, Italy, and Australia)

    41. Situational Factors that Impact Obedience • The physical presence of the experimenter(the person with authority) • If the experimenter left the room and gave commands over the telephone, maximum obedience (administering the highest shock level) dropped to 21% • The physical closeness of teacher and learner • Milgram made the teacher and learner closer by having them both in the same room instead of different rooms, and maximum obedience declined to 40% • It dropped to 30% when the teacher had to directly administer the shock by forcing the learner’s hand onto a plate

    42. Situational Factors that Impact Obedience • Setting of the study • Instead of conducting the research at prestigious Yale University, Milgram did the study in a run-down office building in Bridgeport, Connecticut • Here, he found a 48% obedience rate; thus, the setting did not influence obedience as much as presence of the experimenter or closeness of the teacher and learner • Experimenter unanimity • Milgram set up a situation with two experimenters who at some point during the experiment disagreed • One said to stop the experimenter, while the other said to continue • In this case, when one of the people in authority said to stop, all of the teachers stopped delivering the shocks

    43. Situational Factors that Impact Obedience • Teacher responsibility • In another variation, Milgram had the teacher only push the switch on the shock generator to indicate to another teacher (an experimental confederate) in the room with the learner how much shock to administer • Here, 93% of the participants obeyed the experimenter to the maximum shock levels

    44. Results for Some of Milgram’s Experimental Conditions

    45. The “Astroten” Study • Participants were real nurses on duty alone in a real hospital ward • Each nurse received a call from a person using the name of a staff doctor not personally known by the nurse • The doctor ordered the nurse to give a dose exceeding the maximum daily dosage of an unauthorized medication, called “Astroten” to a real patient in the ward

    46. The “Astroten” Study • This situation violated many hospital rules: • Medication orders need to be given in person and not over the phone • It was a clear overdose • The medication was unauthorized • Of the 22 nurses phoned, 21 did not question the order and went to give the medication, but were intercepted before actually giving it to the patient

    47. The “Astroten” Study • A separate sample of 33 nurses were asked about this situation and what they would do if they were placed it in • All but 2 said they would NOT obey the doctor’s order, again demonstrating the difference between what we think we will do and what we actually do in a given situation

    48. The Jonestown Massacre • In 1978, more than 900 people who were members of Reverend Jim Jones’s religious cult in Jonestown, Guyana committed mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool Aid • These were Americans who moved to South America from San Francisco in 1977 • Using various compliance techniques, Jones developed unquestioned faith as the cult leader and discouraged individualism

    49. The Jonestown Massacre • Using the foot-in-the-door technique, he was able to increase financial support required of each member until they had turned over essentially everything they owned • He had recruiters ask people walking by to help the poor • When they refused, the recruiters then asked them just to donate five minutes of time to put letters in envelopes (door-in-the-face) • When given information about other charitable work, having agreed to this small task, people returned later as a function of the consistency aspect of the foot-in-the-door technique • Informational social influence was also at work, as being moved from San Francisco to Guyana created an uncertain environment in which followers would look to others to guide their own actions

    50. How Groups Influence Us SocialFacilitation SocialLoafing BystanderEffect Deindivi-duation GroupPolarization