Q4L01 - Social influence and conformity


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  • people need to be certain and confident that what they are doing, thinking or feeling is correct and appropriate
  • Q4L01 - Social influence and conformity

    1. 1. Process hereby attitudes and behaviour are influenced by the real or implied presence of other people. <br />SOCIAL INFLUENCES<br />
    2. 2. Social Life <br />Characterised by norms<br />‘Normative social similarities and differences between people’<br />Examine: how people construct norms, how they conform to or are regulated by those norms, and how those norms change. <br />
    3. 3. Deep-seated, private and enduring change in behaviour and attitudes due to group pressure. <br />Conformity<br />
    4. 4. Social Influence via Conformity<br />Social influence can operate through conformity to social or group norms. <br />ORIGIN:<br />Premise: people need reassurance!<br />Sherif (1936) argued that people use the behaviour of others to establish the range of possible behaviour: frame of reference.<br />Average positions > correct than fringe positions = people tend to adopt them.<br />Testing idea… AUTOKINESIS!<br />
    5. 5. Sherif’sAutokinesis experiment<br />Autokinesis is an optical illusion where a fixed pinpoint of light in a completely dark room appears to move: movement is actually caused by eye movement in the absence of a physical frame of reference.<br />Experiment: people asked to estimate how much the light moves over a series of 100 trials.<br />Experiment A: participants started alone before taking turns to call out their estimates in groups of two or three.<br />Experiment B: participants started in groups before making their own estimates alone.<br />
    6. 6. Results:<br />
    7. 7. Asch (1952)<br />Argued that if the object of judgment was entirely unambiguous, then people would remain independent of group influence.<br />Experiment: Participants thought they were performing a visual discrimination task and took turns in a fixed order to call out publicly which of three comparison lines was the same length as a standard line.<br />In reality, only one person was the true participants and answered second last. Others were confederates instructed to give erroneous responses. <br />
    8. 8. Results<br />Average conformity rate was 33%.<br />All reported uncertainty and self-doubt as a result of the disagreement between themselves and the group. <br />Evolved into self-consciousness, fear of disapproval and feelings of anxiety and even loneliness.<br />Most knew they saw things differently from the group, but felt their perception may have been inaccurate and the group to be correct.<br />Others did not believe the group was correct, but did not want to stand out.<br />Small minority saw the lines as the group claimed.<br />Independents were: entirely confident or emotionally affected but guided by a belief in individualism or in doing the task as directed.<br />
    9. 9. Who conforms?<br />
    10. 10. Characteristics<br />Low self-esteem<br />High need for social support or approval<br />Need for self-control<br />Low IQ<br />High anxiety<br />Feelings of self-blame and insecurity in the group<br />Feelings of inferiority<br />
    11. 11. Cultural Differences<br />
    12. 12. Smith, Bond and Kagitcibasi (2006)<br />Surveyed conformity studies that used Asch’s paradigm/variant.<br />Level of conformity ranged from 14% among Belgian students (Doms, 1983) to a high of 58% among Indian teachers in Fiji (Chandra, 1973).<br />Conformity was lower among participants from individualist cultures in North America and north-western Europe (25.3%) than collectivist cultures in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America (37.1%)<br />
    13. 13. Situational factors in conformity<br />
    14. 14. Two major factors<br />Group size<br />Group unanimity<br />
    15. 15. Group size - Asch (1952)<br />Found that as the unanimous group increased from one person to two, three, four, eight, ten and fifteen, the conformity rate increased and then decreased: 3, 13, 33, 35, 32, 31 per cent.<br />Findings suggest conformity reaches its full strength with a 3-5 person majority and additional members have little effect.<br />
    16. 16. Unanimity<br />Conformity is greatly reduced if the majority is not unanimous.<br />Asch found that a correct supporter reduced conformity from 33 to 5.5 per cent.<br />Any lack of unanimity seems to be effective. <br />Asch found that a non-conformist who was even more wildly incorrect than the majority was equally effective.<br />
    17. 17. Processes of conformity<br />
    18. 18. Three main processes<br />Informational influence<br />Normative influence<br />Referent informational influence<br />
    19. 19. Informational influence<br />An influence to accept information from another as evidence about reality.<br />Comes into play when people are uncertain, either because the stimuli is ambiguous or because there is social disagreement.<br />Probably partially responsible for the autokinesic study because reality was ambiguous.<br />
    20. 20. Normative influence<br />An influence to conform with the positive expectation of others to gain social approval or to avoid social disapproval.<br />Comes into play when the group is perceived to have the power and ability to mediate rewards and punishment based on our behaviour<br />An important precondition is that one believes one is under surveillance by the group.<br />Creates surface compliance in public settings rather than true enduring cognitive change.<br />Principal cause of conformity in the Asch experiment.<br />
    21. 21. Referent Informational Influence<br />Pressure to conform with a group norm that defines oneself as a group member.<br />Comes from social identity theory.<br />People conform because they are group members, not to validate physical reality or to avoid social disapproval.<br />People do not conform to other people but to a NORM: other people act as a source of information about the appropriate ingroup norm.<br />Because the norm is an internalised representation, people can conform to it in the absence of surveillance.<br />
    22. 22. Moscovici (1976, 1985)<br />Believed that there are three social influence modalities that define how people respond to social conflict:<br />Conformity – e.g. Asch<br />Normalisation– compromise leading to convergence. E.g. Autokinesis<br />Innovation – a minority creates conflict in order to influence the majority<br />
    24. 24. Minority Influence<br />Often such influence is based (in the case of individuals) on leadership or (in the case of subgroups) legitimate power.<br />Without minority influence, social change would be very difficult to explain. E.g. Anti-war rallies, suffragettes, Greenpeace.<br />Important questions here are whether minorities and majorities gain influence via different social practices and whether the underlying psychology is different.<br />
    25. 25. Criticism: Conformity bias<br />Tendency for social psychology to treat group influences as a one way process in which individuals or minorities always conform to majorities.<br />Moscovici and Faucheux (1972) suggested that Asch’s studies had actually been studies of minority influence, not majority influence.<br />In reality, Asch’s lone participant was a member of a large majority confronted by a small minority, therefore, participants were influenced by a minority, and those who remained ‘independent’ can be considered to be the conformists!<br />
    26. 26. Behavioural style and the genetic model<br />Moscovici (1976) called it a ‘genetic’ model because it focused on how social conflict can generate (are genetic of) social change.<br />To create change, active minorities go out of their way to create conflict.<br />People are motivated to avoid or resolve conflict.<br />Common resolution: dismiss or discredit the minority.<br />Amount of influence minority has depends on behavioural style.<br />
    27. 27. Behavioural style factors<br />Consistency among the minority in their behaviour across time and context. MOST IMPORTANT BEHAVIOURAL STYLE!<br />Show investment in its position by making sacrifices<br />Show autonomy by acting out of principle rather than from ulterior motives. <br />Mugny(1982) extended the behavioural styles and argued that minorities are usually in powerless positions and must negotiate their influence with the majority.<br />Argued that a rigid minority risks being rejected as dogmatic but if they are too flexible, they risk being rejected as inconsistent.<br />Fine line – but degree of flexibility is more effective than rigidity.<br />
    28. 28. Conversion theory<br />Dominant explanation of minority influence.<br />More cognitive focused of how a member of the majority process the minority’s message.<br />Idea: <br />Majority influence  public compliance  accepted views with little cognitive processing<br />Minority influence  private change  validation process  degree of private internal attitude change = conversion effect.<br />
    29. 29. Social identity and self-categorisation<br />From this perspective, minorities should be extremely ineffective sources of influence.<br />According to David and Turner (2001), the key to effective minority influence is for the minority to somehow make the majority shift its level of social comparison to a genuine shared group.<br />Research confirms that minorities do exert more influence if they are perceived by the majority as an ingroup.<br />
    30. 30. Social Impact theory<br />Social influence depends upon numbers, strength and immediacy (impact).<br />Latane and Wolf (1981) argued that > sources = > influence BUT as the cumulative source >, the impact of each additional source <.<br />Light analogy!<br />Link to minorities?<br />Effect of a large majority on an individual majority member has reached a plateau: additional members = little impact.<br />BUT, minority viewpoint not attained a plateau: additional members = relatively large impact.<br />
    31. 31. Summary<br />Group norms are enormously powerful sources of conformity.<br />People use the behaviour of others to establish the range of possible behaviour to form a frame of reference.<br />Conformity process can be influenced by ambiguous situations (autokinesis) as well as unambiguous situations (Asch).<br />Those who conform tend to have low self-esteem, high need for social support, approval and self control, low IQ, high anxiety, feelings of self-blame and insecurity in the group and inferiority.<br />Group size and unanimity are the two most important situational factors in conformity.<br />Three main processes of conformity: Informational influence (desire to be correct), Normative influence (desire for social approval), Referent informational influence (look into in-groups for norms).<br />Three responses to social conflict: conformity (assimilate), normalisation (compromise), innovation (conflict).<br />Theories of minority influences: behavioural style and genetic model (consistency, investment, autonomy), conversion theory (cognitive change), social identity and self-categorisation (comparison shift to shared outgroup), social impact theory (plateau effect).<br />