Strategic Business Program Business, Government, Society: Insights from Experiments Day 3 1 Social Conformity Conformity has a simple definition: It is the process of matching your beliefs, behavior, habits, and disposition to group norms. 2 Conformity to Group Norms Norms are expectations governing group member’s behavior. Norms may be formal, explicit Norms may be informal, implicit no cheating on tests no picking your nose during class Norms may not be apparent until violated Is texting during class okay? What If We Don’t Conform? Conformity is a particularly important behaviour Without conformity, social life simply would not exist There would be no churches, families, universities, or governments Essentially there would be no culture or social structure because we would never interact or get along But Why Do People Conform? People have a natural tendency to want to ‘fit in’ (aka conform) Humans are social beings We seek comfort in others for safety People act in a similar manner Solomon Asch Experiment (1958) – A Study of Conformity and Group Pressure http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYI h4MkcfJA The “Asch” Experiment 7 subjects were selected to participate Subjects were shown one standard line on a card and then told to compare it to a line on a card with three lines on it Task was to determine which comparison line (line on card B) was equal to the standard line (line on card A) All subjects except one were coached to answer incorrectly The purpose of the study was to determine whether the uncoached person would give the incorrect answer in an effort to conform to the responses of the other participants The “Asch” Experiment Results Approximately 1/3 of the uncoached subjects agreed with the incorrect answer Most subjects who gave the incorrect answer concluded that their own perceptions must be incorrect since the majority of the group saw things differently The “Asch” Experiment Asch found that three different kinds of reactions had contributed to the conformity: 1. Distortion of perception: A number of subjects said they were not aware their responses had been distorted by the majority. They came to see the majority responses as correct. The “Asch” Experiment 2. Distortion of judgment: Most of the subjects who conformed to the majority concluded their own perceptions were inaccurate. Lacking confidence in their own observations, they reported not what they saw but what they felt must be correct. The “Asch” Experiment 3. Distortion of action: A number of subjects admitted that they had not reported what they had in fact seen. They said they had conformed so as not to appear different or stupid in the eyes of other group members. Why Makes People Conform Studies conducted by sociologists have identified the following conditions in which people are more likely to conform. Factors of Conformity… Groups and Conformity When the group is like them. If the group has the same values and interests and comes from a similar background, people are more likely to conform. When the person or group is popular or has high status. Researchers found subjects were less likely to jaywalk when a respectably dressed model did not jaywalk. But the subjects didn’t hesitate to jaywalk when a poorly dressed (apparently low-status) model did not jaywalk. Groups and Conformity When the person or group is trustworthy or an expert. When individuals are uncertain they often follow the lead of someone they trust or who is an expert on the subject. When the person is able to offer rewards or punishments. Often people in authority offer rewards or hand out punishments to make others conform to their wishes. Social psychologists call this type of conformity compliance. Groups and Conformity When the person or group is attractive. People like to identify with those people who are physically more attractive or admired. By conforming, they hope people will identify themselves as being attractive too. The Zimbardo Prison Experiment Psychologist Philip Zimbardo was interested in testing the limits of human conformity Zimbardo set-up a 2-week experiment involving fake prisoners and guards Zimbardo had to terminate the experiment after 6 days Obedience The act or an instance of obeying; dutiful or submissive behaviour – to be compliant Why do people obey? Fear Less power Out of duty Obedience to Authority What are some ‘commands’ you hear every day? Who gives you these ‘commands’? Why do you obey (or not obey) the commands you are given? We hear or come across commands, instructions, directions and orders everyday. Obedience to Authority Explanations of why we obey fall into one of two groups: We obey because of social pressures and influences in the environment, including fear We obey because of some characteristic of our personality The Milgram Experiement Milgram (1963) wanted to investigate the level of obedience to an authority figure Teacher/learner Administration of shocks (from very low levels to very high levels) ‘Teacher’ was the one who was being studied—would he obey authority and continue to administer these shocks? The Milgram Experiement Milgram (1963) wanted to investigate the level of obedience to an authority figure Teacher/learner Administration of shocks (from very low levels to very high levels) ‘Teacher’ was the one who was being studied—would he obey authority and continue to administer these shocks? The Milgram Experiement Milgram asked various people the maximum voltage they would give before refusing to continue. This is what he found: Predictions by following groups of level at which people would refuse to administer shock (%) Actual shock levels at which subjects refused to continue (%) Shock level (volts) Psychiatrists Students Middle class adults Slight shock (15 v) 10.3 0 12.5 0 Moderate shock 48.7 25.8 42.5 0 Strong shock 92.3 96.8 82.5 0 Very strong shock 97.4 100 90.0 0 Intense shock 100 100 100 12.5 Extremely intense shock 100 100 100 23.5 Danger, severe shock 100 100 100 35.0 XXX shock (450 v) 100 100 100 35.0 The Milgram Experiment All groups surveyed thought that by “intense shock” people would have stopped obeying. In fact, only 35% had refused to obey by 450 volts, and 65% were willing to give the full “XXX shock.” Why Did People Obey? Legitimacy of the authority figure Proximity of the victim Social support for disobedience Diffusion of responsibility Proximity of the experimenter Types of Conformity Compliance – Publically acting in agreement with social pressures, but internally disagreeing. This best describes a person who is motivated to get a reward or avoid punishment. In this example researchers found little difference between animals and humans. (Asch’s Experiment) Resisting Pressure to Conform It is difficult for a lone dissenter to resist unanimous group pressure. A holdout with even one ally can resist more easily. A second dissenter decreases conformity by 80%.