Sociocultural Level of Analysis: Social and Cultural Norms
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Sociocultural Level of Analysis: Social and Cultural Norms

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Notes for section 4.2 of my IB HL Psychology textbook. All about the Sociocultural Level of Analysis, conformity, persuasion, norms, and the like.

Notes for section 4.2 of my IB HL Psychology textbook. All about the Sociocultural Level of Analysis, conformity, persuasion, norms, and the like.

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  • 1. Sociocultural Level of Analysis Social and Cultural Norms
  • 2. Norms • Norm: a set of rules based on socially or culturally shared beliefs of how an individual ought to behave – Norms regulate the behavior within a group • When individuals deviate from norms, they may be punished, marginalized, stigmatized – However: Could also be seen as creative, a leader, and affecting change! • Because humans are social animals, our need to belong causes the desire to conform to group norms
  • 3. Social Learning Theory • Albert Bandura • Humans learn behavior through observational learning – People can learn by watching and imitating behavior • Factors of Social Learning Theory: – Attention: Person must pay attention to the model – Retention: Observer must be able to remember the behavior being observed – Motor reproduction: Observer must be able to replicate the action – Motivation: Learners must want to demonstrate what they have learned
  • 4. Motivation • Several factors can influence whether or not the observer decides to imitate/learn: – Consistency: if the model is always brave – Identification: if the model is like ourselves – Rewards/punishment: We see the consequences of actions without having to carry them out (vicarious reinforcement) – Liking: if the model is warm and friendly we’re more likely to learn behavior (Yarrow et al. 1970)
  • 5. Bandura et al. (1961) • Aim: – See if children would imitate aggression modeled by an adult – See if children were more likely to imitate same-sex models • Method: – Boys and girls from 3-6 y/o – One group shown adult who modeled aggression with a “Bobo” doll – One group shown adult who was non-aggressive – One group served as the control
  • 6. Bandura et al. (1961) • Results: – Those shown the aggressive adult were significantly more aggressive (physically and verbally) – Children showed signs of observational learning – More likely to imitate same-sex adult • Girls were more likely to imitate verbal aggression • Boys more likely to imitate physical aggression • Evaluation: – Low ecological validity – Does little to predict repeated exposure to aggression – Aggression of adults was not standardized – Children may have been affected by demand characteristics – Ethics of showing and teaching violence to children!
  • 7. Application of Social Learning Theory • There is a chance that violence on television will lead to more violent children – Results of studies on effects of TV violence are consistent • TV aggression: – Kids learn how to be aggressive in new ways – Draw conclusions on whether or not aggression will bring them rewards or punishment • Huesmann and Eron (1986): Longitudinal study found a positive correlation between hours of violence watched on TV as a child and aggression demonstrated as a teenager – Those who watched a lot at 8 y/o  more likely to be arrested
  • 8. TV Violence • Other considerations: – Could there be another explanation to the correlation between TV shows and aggression? – Maybe children who watched violence on TV also lived in families which facilitated violent behavior? • Positive TV Influence: – Sesame Street can help children learn positive behaviors – Bandura’s “Let’s Go with the Times” in Tanzania led to increase in safe sex, women’s status, and family planning
  • 9. Evaluation of Social Learning Theory • Helps explain why behaviors may be passed down in a family or within a culture – How children acquire behaviors without trial-and-error learning • Difficult to establish the connection 100% – Child may learn something from a model and not exhibit that behavior for some time • Some people still never learn a behavior! • This theory has evolved into social cognitive theory and self-efficacy theory – Focus is on beliefs and influence on behavior
  • 10. Social Influence: Compliance • Conformity: Occurs when the situation does not exert direct pressure to follow the majority, but individuals perceive pressure and it influences their behavior • Compliance: The result of direct pressure to respond to a request, even though the direct pressure may not be apparent to the individual – i.e. buying certain products
  • 11. Compliance Techniques • Robert Cialdini and psychology of persuasion – Ways in which individuals are influenced to comply with the demands/desires of others • Six factors that influence compliance: – Authority: Using famous people in adverts – Commitment: Have people agree to one thing so later on they will comply with similar requests – Liking: They’ll listen to people they like! – Reciprocity: Feel they need to “return a favor” – Scarcity: Limited Time offer/less readily available – Social Proof: See others doing it
  • 12. Reciprocity • Compliance technique outlined previously • Reciprocity Principle: Social norm that we should treat others the way they treat us – Person must try to repay what another has provided • Reciprocity is one of the most widespread and basic norms of human culture • What is given to another is not lost, but rather a sign of future obligation – Enables the development of various relationships and exchanges
  • 13. Reciprocity • Feelings of guilt play a key role in reciprocity • Lynn and McCall (1998): Customers given a mint or treat with bill leave higher tips • Reciprocity can also be caused by the feeling that because the other person has already compromised, this compromise should be acknowledged with some behavior
  • 14. Door-in-the-Face Technique • A request is made which will surely be turned down • Second request is made which asks for less • People are more likely to accept this second request because they feel the person has already lowered the request to accommodate them
  • 15. Cialdini et al. (1975) • Demonstrates Door-in-the-face Technique • University students asked to chaperone juvenile delinquents on a zoo day-trip – 83% refused • Asked to work 2 hours per week as a counselor for 2+ years – 100% refused • Asked this second group to chaperone the zoo trip after this extreme request – Only 50% refused!
  • 16. Commitment • Commitment: Being consistent with previous behavior • Once people make a choice or take a stand, they will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment • Goal gradients: Longer a person commits themselves to something, less likely they are to abandon the goal
  • 17. Foot-in-the-Door Technique • Get a person to commit to something small • Persuade them to agree to something larger • Dickerson et al. (1992) – University students asked to sign a poster about taking shorter showers – Measured shower times were significantly shorter than normal shower times of the university • Could be that the people signed the poster because they already showered quickly beforehand!
  • 18. Low-Balling • Cialdini et al. (1974) • Asked college students interested in psychology to meet up – One group was told up front it would meet at 7AM • Only 24% were willing – Other group not told time • 56% were willing – When later told it was at 7AM no one backed out (even when given the option) – 95% showed up as promised!
  • 19. Hazing • Shows power of compliance techniques • Hazing: Series of initiation rites in order to join an exclusive group – Potentially dangerous and humiliating – Still used in African societies for passage into manhood and military boot camp training! • Individual must choose to join the group, knowing hazing initiation will be necessary • Must rationalize “this is worth it” • Gives a sense of accomplishment; proven loyalty
  • 20. Aronson and Mills (1959) • Two groups of female college students – First group had to go through a severely embarrassing initiation – Second group did not • Both placed in a boring/uninteresting meeting • Those who had been hazed (Group 1) found the meeting “extremely valuable” • Those who had not been hazed (Group 2) found it “worthless and uninteresting”
  • 21. Social Influence: Conformity • Conformity: Tendency to adjust one’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior in ways that are in agreement with those of a particular individual or group, or with expectations (social norms) – An indirect form of social influence that passes down society’s values and behaviors – i.e. “Peer pressure”
  • 22. Asch (1951) Line Test • Conforming to an incorrect answer on a test if the response from the other group members was unanimous – See if confederates could influence the participant’s answers when visually comparing lines – Even when their answers were obviously incorrect • 75% agreed with incorrect confederates at least once • 32% agreed with incorrect confederates in at least half of the trials
  • 23. Asch (1951) Line Test • Participants reported feeling self-doubt • Conformers knew their responses were incorrect, but went along with it anyway • Why? – Didn’t want to ruin the results – The human need to belong! • The desire to be part of the group > desire to give the correct answer • Known as Asch paradigm
  • 24. Asch Paradigm • Asch’s study has been repeated with different factors • Group Size: (Asch 1955) More likely to conform in groups with 3 confederates than with 1 or 2. – Groups larger than this did not increase the rate of conformity • Unanimity: (Asch 1956) Conformity was most likely when all confederates agreed • Confidence: (Perrin and Spencer 1988) Individuals who felt more competent to make a decision in that field of expertise are less likely to conform • Self-esteem: (Stang 1973) High self-esteem = less likely to conform with incorrect responses
  • 25. Asch Paradigm • Question of artificiality and ecological validity – Accurate representation of real life situations? • Demand characteristics – Participants may act in a way that they feel is required by the experiment • Culture could also limit the validity of the study (not multicultural!) • Ethical considerations – Use of deception – Felt anxiety about their performance • Friend et al. (1990) would rather figure out why some people didn’t conform than why some did
  • 26. Asch Paradigm: Minorities • Moscovici argues: When a minority maintains a consistent view, it is able to influence the majority • Moscovici and Lage (1976) • 4 participants and 2 confederates – Confederates describe a blue-green color as green – Able to influence 32% of participants at least once to give the wrong answer • Participants continued to give incorrect responses even after the confederates left!
  • 27. Minority Opinions • How can minorities influence majorities? • Hogg and Vaughan (1995)’s reasons: – Dissenting opinions produce uncertainty and doubt – Such opinions show alternatives exist – Consistency shows there is a commitment to the alternative view • i.e. the Civil Right’s Movement!
  • 28. Groupthink • Groupthink: Group members having a unanimous opinion on an issue, and they do not seek out alternative or dissenting opinions – Described by Irving Janis – Why minority opinions are important! • When someone suggests an idea and everyone accepts it without considering other options – Group is often blinded by optimism and is certain they will be successful – Individuals doubt their own self-reservations and refrain from voicing dissenting opinions
  • 29. Why do people conform? • Deutsch and Gerard (1955): • Conformity is a result of informational social influence and normative social influence
  • 30. Informational Social Influence • Based on the way people cognitively process information/social comparison • When we see others behaving differently than ourselves it causes cognitive dissonance – Anxiety when you realize you don’t conform • Response 1: Conform (or at least try to) • Response 2: Rationalize and accept your own opinion
  • 31. Normative Social Influence • Based on our nature as social animals – People have a need to be accepted and belong • May conform to avoid rejection and to gain social approval • If a dissenting opinion stands in the way of having friends, the need to belong to that group and have their friendship is more important
  • 32. Cultural Aspects of Conformity • Asians value and partake in conformity more than Americans do • Americans often see conformity as negative – Even though its still a big part of being an American! • Don’t slice the world into East versus West • Italians also have high levels of conformity • (Burgos and Dias-Perez 1986) Puerto Ricans like their children to conform and be obedient
  • 33. Smith and Bond (1993) • Review of 31 conformity studies • Average level of conformity is 31.2% • Conformity was lower among individualist cultures – i.e. North America, north-west Europe • Than from collectivist cultures – i.e. Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America
  • 34. Berry (1967) • Conformity of Temne people of Sierra Leone vs. Inuit people of Canada – Temne conformed significantly more • Can be explained by their economic practices – Temne have to survive on a single crop harvested by the entire community • Requires cooperation, coordination of effort, consensus, agreement – Inuit economy is based on hunting and gathering on an individual level
  • 35. Cultural Norms • Culture: Complex concept that is used in many different ways – Food, clothing, rituals, communication, religion, st atus, behaviors and habits • “Surface Culture”: what is easily visible/apparent • “Deep Culture”: related to beliefs/attitudes/values that underpin cultural manifestations
  • 36. Cultural Norms • Kuschel claims culture should not be used as an explanation of behavior – It’ll just lead to circular arguments • Descriptions of cultural factors can be used to: – Understand how people have survived in the environment – How they have organized life into social groups – What beliefs, attitudes, norms etc influence behavior
  • 37. Definitions of Culture • Lonner (1995): Common rules that regulate interactions and behavior within a group, and a number of shared values and attitudes in the group • Hofstede (2002): “Mental software”: cultural schemas that have been internalized so that they influence thinking, emotions, and behavior
  • 38. The Role of Culture • Understanding the role of culture is essential in a diverse, multicultural world! • Etic Approach: Cross-cultural psychology where behavior is compared across specific cultures – Drawing on notion of universal properties of cultures • Emic Approach: Looks at behaviors that are culturally specific – Challenged psychologists to re-examine their ideas of “truth” with regard to culture
  • 39. Matsumoto (2004) • Defined culture as a dynamic system of rules (explicit and implicit) established by groups in order to ensure their survival, involving attitudes, beliefs, norms, and behaviors • Dynamic because it changes over times and exists on many levels
  • 40. Cultural Norms • Cultural Norms: Behavior patterns that are typical of specific groups • Often passed down from generation to generation by observational learning by the group’s gatekeepers – Gatekeepers: parents, teachers, leaders, peers • Cultural norms include: – How marriage partners are chosen – Attitudes toward alcohol – Acceptance/rejection of physical punishment
  • 41. Cultural Dimensions of Behavior • Dimensions: Perspectives of a culture based on values and cultural norms • Understanding these dimensions will help facilitate communication between cultures • Dimensions: – Individualism vs. collectivism – Uncertainty vs. avoidance
  • 42. Individualism vs. Collectivism • Individualist societies: Ties between individuals are loose; people look after themselves and immediate family • Collectivist societies: People are integrated from the beginning into strong in-groups (like extended families) that provide support and protection
  • 43. Uncertainty vs. Avoidance • Deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity • To what extent does a culture program its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations? • Avoidant cultures construct laws, rules, safety measures, beliefs about absolute truths to remove chances of ambiguities/surprises
  • 44. Confucian Work Dynamism • Bond (1988) argues Chinese culture replaces the uncertainty vs. avoidance dimension with Confucian work dynamism – Doesn’t focus on truth; focuses on virtue
  • 45. Orientation • Long-Term Orientation: China & other Asian cultures value loyalty, persistence, trustworthiness – Relationships are based on status – They have a need to “save face” and respect tradition • Short-Term Orientation: Value personal steadiness and stability – Focus on the future instead of the past – Innovation is highly valued
  • 46. Ecological Fallacy • Hoefstede warns against the ecological fallacy • When one looks at two different cultures, it should not be assumed that members from different cultures must be different – A single member of a culture will not always demonstrate dimensions that are the norms of that culture • These are just generalizations that allow discussions on the role of culture
  • 47. Edward T. Hall (1966) • Proxemic Theory: Culture’s need for “personal space” – Different cultures have different perceptions of comfortable personal space distances • Time Consciousness: – Monochronic cultures focus on 1 thing at a time • High degree of scheduling, punctuality, deadlines – Polychronic cultures have many things happening at once • Focus more on relationships, interactions, interruptions are expected, little frustration over tardiness/postponing