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Bradford sp 2014 week3 tipping points, cascades, and self fulfilling prophecies

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Bradford sp 2014 week3 tipping points, cascades, and self fulfilling prophecies

  1. 1. Cascades ,Tipping Points, and Self-fulfilling Prophecies John Bradford, Ph.D.
  2. 2. I. CASCADES AND TIPPING POINTS
  3. 3. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Social Cascades = a domino effect or chain reaction (aka contagion, bandwagon effect). – Occurs when a small event triggers a large event or when the actions of a few trigger the actions of many. – Basic idea: small  large (or few  many)
  4. 4. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Social Cascades = a domino effect or chain reaction (aka contagion, bandwagon effect). – What explains this? We are always paying attention to and being influenced by the behavior of other people.
  5. 5. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Tipping point = threshold: (aka ‘critical mass’) • The ‘tipping point’ or ‘threshold’ is the point beyond which a cascade occurs… • A system has a tipping point at x if a small change in the value of x has large effects on the end state. • A threshold =“the number or proportion of others who must make one decision before a given actor does so; this is the point where net benefits begin to exceed net costs for that particular actor” (Granovetter 1978)
  6. 6. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Example: Imagine there are 100 people in the mall and you see a few of them running! • How many of them have to be running out of the mall before you run out of the mall also? • Assume you have no understanding of why they are running! Crowded mall
  7. 7. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Consider two scenarios: – Scenario 1: Homogeneity. Everyone has the same threshold, or tipping point. Everyone will run out of the mall if they see 20 other people run out of the mall. What happens? NOTHING! No one will leave unless 20 other people leave! – Scenario 2: Heterogeneity (Diversity). Everyone is numbered from 1 to 100; their number is also the number of people they need to see running before they also run: their threshold. What happens? First person leaves, then the second, then the third, etc. This generates a chain reaction, aka a CASCADE! Person 0 Begins to run Person 1 runs only if 1 other person runs Person 2 runs only if 2 other people run 3 4 5 6
  8. 8. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Mark Granovetter devised this threshold model initially to describe RIOTS: – one person will definitely riot; another will riot only if one other person riots; a third will riot only if two others riot; etc…. – We are much more likely to riot ourselves if we see others rioting.
  9. 9. Maps of Social Protests
  10. 10. Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points • Thresholds explain: 1. Why social changes can be abrupt, discontinuous, and sudden. 2. Why they are so unpredictable. – One person in a chain can either cause or prevent a collective chain reaction, or social cascade. • Other examples: clapping, dancing at parties…
  11. 11. Pluralistic Ignorance • Pluralistic Ignorance – situation in which majority of people privately reject a norm but assume incorrectly that most others accept it. "Resistance would have been another form of suicide.”
  12. 12. II. EMERGENCE AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
  13. 13. Emergence and unintended consequences • What causes…. – Traffic jams? – Unemployment? • Mass starvation?
  14. 14. Emergence and unintended consequences • Often, these collective outcomes are not intentional outcomes: they are not planned or even desired. • Note: unintended consequences can be both GOOD or BAD (desirable or undesirable, depending on your point of view) Unintended Consequences of Actions Intended actions
  15. 15. Emergence and unintended consequences • “The Invisible Hand”: selfinterested behavior maximizes the common good. (‘you best help others by helping yourself’) – Adam Smith (1776), the founder of economics, argued that individuals' efforts to maximize their own gains in a free market can benefit society. – The contrary is also often argued: competition may generate a ‘race to the bottom’ making everybody worse off. Adam Smith
  16. 16. Emergence and unintended consequences • Emergence refers to the creation of a whole from the interaction or inter-relation of component parts. • Emergent properties are those new (and surprising) properties of the whole that are not possessed by its individual parts. – Example: Hydrogen and Oxygen into H2O
  17. 17. Emergence and unintended consequences • Emergence: – The whole is more than the sum of its parts… – Analogy: a cake. Cake has a taste not found in any of its individual ingredients. Nor is it simply an average, half-way between flour and egg.
  18. 18. III. SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION AND SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES
  19. 19. The Sociological Imagination • Sociology attempts to explain facts about groups of people, and then to relate these social facts to our individual lives. • The study of how our lives are influenced by our larger historical and social circumstances is called the sociological imagination.
  20. 20. The Sociological Imagination “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
  21. 21. The Sociological Imagination • To understand one side, you have to understand the other. Man/Woman Society Biography History Self World Personal “Troubles of Public “Issues of milieu” social structure” • The ability to understand history and its relation to biography is called the sociological imagination by C. Wright Mills.
  22. 22. “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” Karl Marx (1818-1883)
  23. 23. What is Social REALITY? • Thomas theorem: "If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences“ • To understand human inter-actions and relations, sociologists have to understand both reality, and perceived reality. W. I. Thomas 1863 - 1947
  24. 24. • Social relations are often real because we act AS IF they are real. The social world concerns not only the material world, but the meanings we ascribe to the material objects, meanings which are themselves non-physical and non-material. Examples: 1. Nations 2. Money
  25. 25. Self-fulfilling and Self-negating prophecies • Robert K. Merton also coined the terms – ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and – ‘role model’ • A self-fulfilling prophecy is something that becomes true because it is believed to be true. – Example: bank run, placebos, psychic predictions, etc… • A self-negating prophecy is a belief that causes its own falsehood. Explanation: it is something that, once believed to be true or expected to happen, cannot happen (or becomes less likely to happen). Robert K. Merton (1910 – 2003)
  26. 26. The Power of Expectations • Pygmalion Effect (aka Rosenthal effect): the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. – According to legend, Pygmalion was the king of Cyprus who fell in love with a beautiful woman (Galatea) he sculpted out of ivory.
  27. 27. The Power of Expectations • In the 1960s Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson hypothesized that teacher expectations influenced children’s performance. • Study: they randomly assigned 1 out of 5 children to the ‘spurter/bloomer’ group, but told teachers these students were selected to the group based on test performances that indicated future success. • Findings: the kids who were expected to ‘spurt’ made larger improvements than nonspurters.
  28. 28. IV. FOUR FAMOUS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY EXPERIMENTS
  29. 29. Stanley Milgram and Obedience • One of the most famous experiments of the 20th century. • What explains the Holocaust? Are Germans just inherently more obedient than other people? • The Milgram experiment measured the willingness to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.
  30. 30. Stanley Milgram and Obedience Experiment: • Three roles: – an experimenter (man in white lab coat); – a volunteer (the ‘teacher’); – and the shockee (the ‘learner’). All are actors except the volunteer. • Responding to a newspaper ad, a volunteer was told he would be participating in an experiment testing the effects of negative reinforcement (punishment) on learning. The volunteer was told that a ‘teacher’ (giving electric shocks) and ‘learner’ (receiving electric shocks) were to be picked at random.
  31. 31. Stanley Milgram and Obedience Experiment: • In reality, the experiment was to see how much electroshock the teacher would give as punishment, when told it was part of an experiment. Everyone but the ‘teacher’ was acting and knew the true purpose of the experiment. No electric shocks were actually administered, but the volunteer believed he was administering them. • The ‘learner’ would go into another room and a tape recording was played of scripted answers. For each wrong answer, the teacher was supposed to give a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer.
  32. 32. Stanley Milgram and Obedience Findings: • BASELINE STUDY (most famous): 65% of volunteers ‘go all the way’ and are willing to shock the subject to death! • Milgram also studied 20-40 variants of this experiment with different results:
  33. 33. Stanley Milgram and Obedience Findings: • Experiment #3: The Shockee is placed in the same room so that the volunteer can see him; obedience drops to 40%. • Experiment #4: The volunteer must physically restrain the shockee; obedience drops to 30%. • Experiment #14 : If experimenter is not a scientist in a white lab coat, then obedience drops to 20%. • Experiment #17: Volunteer and two other participants (both actors); if other actors refuse to continue the experiment, obedience drops to 10%
  34. 34. Stanley Milgram and Obedience Findings: • Experiment #15: *If there are two other experimenters in white lab coats (both actors) who disagree about what to do, then obedience drops to ZERO! • As soon as participants are told that they “have no choice”, obedience drops to ZERO! • These results were confirmed in 2006.
  35. 35. Stanley Milgram and Obedience QUESTION: What does all this mean? Why did so many people go along with the experiment, if they only did so long as they were NOT ordered to do so?
  36. 36. Stanley Milgram and Obedience • This study does NOT show that people ‘obey orders’! • They are participating because they believe they are promoting the ‘greater good’, a noble cause: science. • They are shocking innocent strangers not because they believe they have to, but because they believe they ought to.
  37. 37. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiments Experiment: • 70 volunteers selected; • by flip of coin, half are chosen as guards, other half as prisoners • Participants make up their own rules; not pre-determined • Each participant was paid $15 a day
  38. 38. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiments • Findings: • Experiment ended after 6 days! • Could no longer distinguish reality (the experiment) from the roles they adopted as prisoners and guards • “There were dramatic changes in virtually every aspect of their behavior, thinking and feeling…. We were horrified because we saw some boys (guards) treat others as if they were despicable animals, taking pleasure in cruelty, while other boys (prisoners) became servile, dehumanized robots….” (141)
  39. 39. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiments • Findings: • About 1/3 of guards became ‘corrupted by the power of their roles’ (142) • “*T+he mere act of assigning labels to people and putting them into a situation where those labels acquire validity and meaning is sufficient to elicit pathological behavior” (Zimbardo, pg. 143)
  40. 40. ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’ • Can we always distinguish ‘normal’ from ‘abnormal’ people? The ‘sane’ from the ‘insane’? • How objective are these labels? 1. Are ‘insane’ behaviors caused by innate characteristics of these individuals or are they elicited from external environments? 2. Do observers see the ‘same’ behavior differently in different circumstances? Scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  41. 41. ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’ • Rosenhan undertakes groundbreaking study: will sane people (‘pseudo-patients’) be recognized as sane by hospital staff in a psychiatric ward? • Experiment – 8 sane people admitted into 12 hospitals; 3 women, 5 men – Initially complained of ‘hearing voices’ of an ‘existential nature’: – Symptoms chosen because there were zero reports of ‘existential psychoses in the literature’ – After being admitted, pseudo-patients behaved normally – Length of stay ranges from 7 to 52 days, average of 19 days D. L. Rosenhan
  42. 42. ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’ • Findings: The normal are not detectably sane! – Pseudo-patients were never detected • Other patients (but not doctors and staff) sometimes detected that they were not insane. – Each was discharged with a diagnosis of schizophrenia “in remission” – Normal behaviors were often interpreted as abnormal because of the diagnosis! D. L. Rosenhan
  43. 43. Labels and Perception Perception of behavior Label (diagnosis) • “Once a person is designated abnormal, all of his other behaviors and characteristics are colored by that label” (280). 1. Observers perceive normal behavior as crazy; our expectations thus reinforce our initial impressions 2. Patients can even begin to see themselves as ‘crazy’, and thus act crazy (self-fulfilling prophecy)
  44. 44. Asch’s Conformity Experiments • Question: Which of the lines on the second card (A, B, or C) is the same length as the line on the first card? • “That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call White Black is a matter of concern. It raises questions about out ways of education and about the values that guide out conduct” (95) Solomon Asch (1907 – 1996)

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