- “Flash mob” - a group of people who received instructions over the Internet, gathered voluntarily at a set time and place, performed some silly but harmless action, and dispersed.
- “mass psychogenic illness” - a profound form of social influence.
- Term social influence refers to the ways in which people are affected by the real and imagined pressures of others.
Social Influence as “Automatic”:
- “Sometimes we are influenced by other people without our awareness.
- Studies show that people mimic each other's behavior and moods, perhaps as a way of smoothing social interactions.
- ~ the tendency to change our perceptions, opinions, or behavior in ways that are consistent with group norms.
The Early Classic:
- Muzafer Sherif used the autokinetic effect: In darkness, a stationary point of light appears to move, sometimes erratically, in various directions.
The group judgments gradually converged.
- “Using a simpler line-judgment task, Asch had confederates make incorrect responses and found that participants went along about a third of the time.
- When it comes to social support and rejection, even virtual groups have the power to shape our behavior.
Why Do People Conform?:
- Two different reasons:
о 1) Informational influence - influence that produces conformity when a person believes others are correct in their judgments.
о 2) Normative influence - influence that produces conformity when a person fears the negative social consequences of appearing deviant.
People who were socially ostracized - being neglected, ignored, and excluded in a live or Internet chatroom conversation - reacted by feeling hurt, angry, and alone.
- The two types of influence produces different types of conformity:
о 1) Private conformity - the change of beliefs that occurs when a person privately accepts the position taken by others.
о 2) Public conformity - a superficial change in overt behavior, without a corresponding change of opinion, produced by real or imagined group pressure.
Group Size: The Power in Numbers:
- Conformity increases with group size; but only to a point.
- [Another] possible explanation is that as more and more people express the same opinion, an individual, is likely to suspect that they are acting either in “collusion” or as s”spineless sheep”.
A Focus on Norms:
- Social norms give rise to conformity only when we know and focus on those norms.
- People's willingness to express prejudice is also influenced by what they think the norms are.
An Ally in Dissent: Getting By with a Little Help:
- The presence of a single confederate who agreed with the participant reduced conformity by almost 80 percent.
- Two important conclusions:
о 1) It is substantially more difficult for people to stand alone for their convictions than to be part of even a tiny minority.
о 2) Any dissent - whether it validates an individual's opinion or not - can break the spell cast by a unanimous majority and reduce the normative pressure to conform.
- First, sex differences depend on how comfortable people are with the experimental task. Ones familiarity with the issue at hand, not gender, is what affects conformity.
- A second factor is the type of social pressure people face.
“Woman conform more than men on “masculine” tasks and in face-to-face settings, but not in “feminine” or gender-neutral tasks or in private settings.
- Conformity rates are higher in cultures that value collectivism than in those that value individualism.”
- Individualism - a cultural orientation in which independence, autonomy, and self-reliance take priority over group allegiances.
- Collectivism - a cultural orientation in which interdependence, cooperation, and social harmony take priority over personal goals.
- Three factors are suggest to determine whether a culture becomes individualistic or collectivistic: о 1) Complexity of a society.
о 2) Affluence of a society.
о 3) Heterogeneity.
- ~ the process by which dissenters produce change within a group.
- In general, minority influence is greater when the source is an ingroup member.
The Power of Style:
- “Minorities can exert influence by taking a consistent and unwavering position [Moscovici].”
- “First conform, then dissent to exert influence [Hollander].”
- Idiosyncrasy credits - interpersonal “credits” that a person earns by following group norms.
A Chip Off the Old Block?:
- “Majority influence is greater on direct and public measure of conformity, but minorities show their impact in indirect or private measures of conformity.
- By forcing other group members to think more openly about a problem, minorities enhance the quality of a group's decision making.
- People gain courage to resist conformity pressures after watching others do the same.”
- ~ changes in behavior that are elicit by direct requests.
The Language of Request:
- “People are more likely to comply when they are taken by surprise and when the request sounds reasonable.
The Norm of Reciprocity:
- Norm of reciprocity - we treat others as they have treated us.
- “We often comply when we feel indebted to a requester who has done us a favor.
- People differ in the extent to which they use reciprocity for personal gain and are wary of falling prey to this strategie.”
Setting Traps: Sequential Request Strategies:
The Foot in the Door:
- Foot-in-the-door technique - a two-step compliance technique in which an influencer sets the stage for the real request by first getting a person to comply with a much smaller request.
- Low-Balling - a two-step compliance technique in which the influencer secures agreement with a request but then increases the size of that request by revealing hidden costs.
- Despite the increase, people often follow through on their agreement.
The Door in the Face:
- Door-in-the-face technique - a two-step compliance technique in which an influencer prefaces the real request with one that is so large that it is rejected.
- Perceptual contrast: To the person exposed to a very large initial request, the second request “seems” smaller.
Reciprocal concessions: refers to the pressure to respond to changes in a bargaining position.
That's Not All, Folks:
- That's-not-all technique - a two-step compliance technique in which the influencer begins with a inflated request, then decreases its apparent size by offering a discount or bonus.
Assertiveness: When People Say No:
- Many people find it hard to be assertive. Doing so requires that we be vigilant and recognize the traps.
- ~ behavior change produced by the commands of authority.
The Obedient Participant:
- Factors That Influence Obedience.
- Obedience levels are influenced by particularly three factors: the authority figure, the proximity of the victim, and the experimental procedure.
- Destructive obedience requires the physical presence of a prestigious authority figure.
- If the participants are physically separated from the person who has to bear (in this case) pain ( in Milgrams experiment the person who received the electric shocks ), the participant was able to distance himself/herself emotionally from the consequences of his/her actions.
- Participants did not feel personally responsible ( they were only transmitters)
- Transmitters were more obedient than executants.
- Gradual escalation promotes obedience ( 75 volts - 90 volts - 105 volts ... 330 volts ).
Milgram in the Twenty-Century:
- It appears that obedience is a powerful aspect of human nature brought about by docile manner in which people relate to figures of authority - even today.
Defiance: When People Rebel:
- “Just as processes of social influence breed obedience, they can also support acts of defiance, since groups are more difficult to control than individuals.
- Provision of a situational explanation for cruel behavior does not excuse the behavior.”
The Continuum of Social Influence:
Social Impact Theory:
- ~ the theory that influence depends on the strength, immediacy, and number of source persons relative to target persons who absorb that pressure.
- Social Impact: Source Factors and Target Factors.
Perspectives on Human Nature:
- “There is no single answer to the question of whether people are conformists or nonconformists.
- There are cross-cultural differences in social influence, and values change over time even within specific cultures.”