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Chapter 7: Social Influence

Chapter 7: Social Influence. 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?.

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Chapter 7: Social Influence

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  1. Chapter 7: Social Influence

  2. 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?

  3. 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

  4. Conformity • Yielding to perceived group pressure • Imitate others behavior and beliefs • Conforming to one reference group may result in independence from another reference group.

  5. Compliance • Publicly acting in accord with a direct request • May be associated with attitude change (internal compliance) • May comply without attitude change (external compliance)

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Figure 7.1 Norm Development

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. Asch’s Conformity Experiments

  12. Figure 7.2 Asch’s Line Judgment Task

  13. 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

  14. Figure 7.3 Degree of Conformity in Asch’s Research

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Situational Factors and Conformity • Group size • Group cohesiveness • Topic relevance • Social support • Others' gestures • Cues activating automatic conformity

  19. Figure 7.4 Group Size and Conformity

  20. Personal Factors and Conformity • Self-awareness • Self-presentation • Desire for personal control • (Not) gender

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. Figure 7.5 Conformity to Consistent and Inconsistent Minorities

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. Figure 7.6 That’s Not All!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. Figure 7.7 Some Factors That Influence

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. Figure 7.8 The Psychology of Social Impact: Source and Target Factors

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