Learning Objectives • Can situations automatically activate social norms from your memory without your awareness? • Americans often admire nonconformists, but what typically happens to people who fail to conform to others' opinions or behaviors? • How do people from individualist and collectivist cultures differ in their tendencies to conform? • What social factors influence whether we obey or disobey the destructive commands of authority figures?
Social Influence • Exercise of social power to change the attitudes or behaviors of others in a particular direction • Social power: force available to change attitudes or behavior • Types of social influence • Conformity • Compliance • Obedience
Conformity • Yielding to perceived group pressure • Imitate others behavior and beliefs • Conforming to one reference group may result in independence from another reference group.
Compliance • Publicly acting in accord with a direct request • May be associated with attitude change (internal compliance) • May comply without attitude change (external compliance)
Obedience • Performance of an action in response to a direct order from an authority figure • More likely than other types of social influence to imply a result of personal freedom • Obedience is seen as a sign of maturity in many situations.
Classic Study: Sherif • Participants judged how much a dot of light moved in a dark room. • It didn't really move at all but seemed to move because of the autokinetic effect. • Participants who discussed estimates converged on a norm. • Later, individual estimates reflected the group norm. • Thus, when reality is ambiguous, people conform to the group.
Pluralistic Ignorance • The belief that everyone else sees things a certain way when they do not • For instance, assuming that everyone else thinks binge drinking is a good idea, or that everyone else understands the lecture • Driven by conformity to social norms
Classic Study: Asch • Participants were asked to judge length of lines. • Five confederates gave wrong answers on key trials. • 76% of participants gave the wrong-but-conforming answer at least once. • Thus, even when reality is clear, conformity affects behavior.
Experiencing Conformity • There are individual differences in conformity in a given situation. • Most people assume others conform more than themselves. • When confronted about conforming that runs counter to one's private views, most people change recall of facts to avoid believing they conformed. • Postconformity change-of-meaning
Normative and Informational Influence • Normative influence: Go along with group to gain rewards or avoid punishment from the group. • Not wanting to "stand out" or "be the only one" • Informational influence: Go along with the group because they have more information. • Especially when we doubt our own judgment
Classic Study: Schachter • Participants gathered to evaluate a case study of juvenile delinquent Johnny Rocco. • Three confederates were part of the discussion. • "Mode" took up the position similar to group. • "Slider" started extremely harsh, and then moved toward the group opinion. • "Deviate" started harsh and stayed there. • When deviate would not be persuaded • Communication dropped • Deviate was rejected by group.
Ostracism • Rejection and exclusion are used for social control. • Emotional pain following social rejection activates same brain regions as physical pain. • Signal of a potential survival threat • Threat of social exclusion disrupts self-regulation and logical thought.
Situational Factors and Conformity • Group size • Group cohesiveness • Topic relevance • Social support • Others' gestures • Cues activating automatic conformity
Personal Factors and Conformity • Self-awareness • Self-presentation • Desire for personal control • (Not) gender
Theory of Psychological Reactance • People believe they are free to do certain things. • If they think these freedoms are threatened, they will act to assert their independence. • Being truly independent does not involve reactance. • Anti-confomity is chronic opposition to all social influence. • Shows reactance in action
Theory of Minority Influence • Groups holding the minority opinion are most influential when: • Consistent and confident • Similar to majority in every way but the disputed opinion (single minority) • Arguing in the same direction as evolving cultural norms
Factors Influencing Compliance • People more likely to comply when: • In a positive mood • The norm of reciprocity is invoked • Reasons—even meaningless ones—are given
Two-Step Compliance Strategies • Foot-in-the-door • Small request followed by bigger request • Door-in-the-face • Large (unreasonable) request followed by smaller compromise request • That's-not-all technique • Unreasonable offer is immediately paired with a bonus that makes it more reasonable. • Low-balling • True cost not disclosed until after commitment
Intense Social Influence • Can lead to unusual compliance • False confessions are an example of an act of unusual compliance. • False confessions can occur due to either internal or external compliance pressures.
Classic Study: Milgram • Participants were asked to take part in study of learning as "teacher." • They believed they were giving electric shocks to a "learner." • Shocks increased in voltage. • "Learner" (confederate) appeared to protest. • Participants who objected were told to continue. • Despite significant personal distress, participants continued to obey at a high rate. • 65% continued increasing shocks until they ran out of switches.
Implications of Milgram's Study • Participants were not "evil" or particularly different from the normal population. • Results cannot be explained by gender, race, age, education, socioeconomic status, or country of origin. • The situation caused destructive obedience. • The majority of people in the study violated their own deeply-held values. • The presence of an unknown authority figure and their spoken directions were sufficient to bring about a gross violation of one's values.
Reducing Destructive Obedience • People who voiced firm objections early were less likely to continue to the end of Milgram's study. • Being in the presence of someone who objected reduced obedience. • Getting destructive orders while in groups reduces obedience by introducing the idea of collective action.
Social Impact Theory • The amount of influence others have is a function of their: • Number • Strength • Immediacy • People form like-minded social clusters that reinforce their viewpoints.
Figure 7.8 The Psychology of Social Impact: Source and Target Factors