Chapter 6 Conformity and Influence In Groups

“Four out of five dentists
Norms are expectations
governing group member’s
 Norms may be formal,
 no cheating on tests
 Norms may be informal,
 no picking your nose during
 Norms may not be
apparent until violated
 Is texting during class okay?
Sherif demonstrated conformity to
group judgments.
 Autokinetic effect: a stationary point of light, in a
completely dark room, appears to be moving.
 Individuals’ estimates of the amount of
movement conformed to the group’s.
Asch found conformity to group
 Individuals estimated the length of lines.
 Group members (confederates) offered
different judgments.
 75% of all subjects modified their estimates to
conform to the group.
 Public conformity doesn’t necessarily imply
private conformity.
Groups may punish deviation from
established norms.
 Norms are most influential in ambiguous
social situations.
 Subjects littered more in a setting where others were
seen littering.
Norms may persist even if they are
Social impact theory
 Each additional member adds
pressure to conform.
 Each new member’s influence is
proportionally less.
Social influence model
 The first few people added exert
the most pressure to conform.
 Conformity levels off with
additional members.
 For example, if the first 9 group
members don’t convince
someone, neither will the 10th.
Informational influence
 Members want to be correct, accurate.
 More heads are better than one.
 Consistent with social influence model
Normative influence
 Members want to be liked, accepted by the group.
 Groups provide a sense belonging, connectedness.
 Consistent with social impact theory
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%.
Identification and
reference groups
 Reference groups
provide standards of
comparison for selfappraisal.
 “Keeping up with the
 People consider
reference groups
when making
 Members engage in
 They reinforce one
another’s opinions.
 They fail to question or
analyze ideas.
In general women tend to conform
more than men.
 Sex roles affect conformity
 Females are socialized to be more communal.
 Males are socialized to be more independent.
 Status affects conformity
 Sex functions as a status cue.
 Males generally enjoy higher status in
organizational settings.
Peer influence increases during
 Peer pressure can promote
risky behaviors.
 Tobacco, alcohol, drug use
Peer pressure can lead to
 Hazing, teasing, ostracism can spark
 Online hazing can trigger suicides.
Peer pressure also has positive
 Peers also model desirable behavior.
High self-monitors tend to conform
more than low self-monitors.
 Dogmatic people tend to conform more
than non-dogmatics.
 Using one’s own culture as the benchmark for
judging other cultures.
 Individualistic cultures view conformity more
 Collectivistic cultures view conformity more
Group locomotion
 The individual goes along to achieve the goals of the group.
Social comparison
 The group is a yardstick for measuring one’s own
 Liking and identification with the group discourages deviance
Epistemological weighting
 Members think the group knows more than they do.
Hedonistic hypothesis
 Members conform to receive social benefits, avoid social
Monkey see, monkey do
 People base their behavior on what others are doing.
 Internet piracy
 Urban graffiti
Viral marketing relies on social proof
 A social phenomenon is spread by word of mouth.
Negative social proof
 “Everyone else is doing it” is based on appeals to the
Slackers: People exert less effort in a group than
working alone.
 The Ringlemann effect: in a tug of war, adding team members
reduces individual effort.
 Decision making & problem solving: as members are added,
individual effort tapers off.
Collective effort model
Free ride effect
Sucker effect
 Members coast if individuals’ contributions can’t be
 Members coast if they are anonymous.
 Members coast if they aren’t personally accountable.
 Productive members slack off when they see others aren’t
Risky-shift phenomenon
 Groups are prone to make
riskier decisions than
 The group’s consensus is
typically riskier than the
average risk-level of its
Social comparison theory
 Members entertain ideas they
would not otherwise consider.
Persuasive arguments
theory (PAT)
 The most vocal members
advocate the most extreme
There can also be a shift
 Groups enhance members’ pre- toward greater caution
Group polarization
existing tendencies toward
risk-taking or risk-aversion.
 High risk-takers skew the
average willingness of the
group to assume risks.
 More vocal members may
advocate greater caution.
Social ostracism can lead to anti-social
 School shootings
 Cyber-bullying
 Individual identity is subsumed to that of the group.
 Personal accountability is lacking.
 A diffusion of responsibility occurs.
 “It’s not my problem.”
 “It’s none of my business.”
 Anonymity increases deindividuation.
Negative social consequences
 Mob psychology
 Vandalism perpetrated by unruly sports fans
 Treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq
 Crowd size affects antisocial behavior.
 Bystander effects
 Bystanders may fail to help in an emergency.
 Self-Awareness
 Increasing self-awareness reduces deindividuation.
 Increasing accountability decreases deindividuation.
Richmond, CA, 2009: A 15
year old was the victim of a
gang rape outside her high
school’s homecoming dance.
People in a crowd who see others
doing nothing do nothing
 social proof
The ordeal lasted 2 ½ hours.
At least 20 passers-by failed
to call police.
 Deindividuation
Other witnesses watched,
laughed, and took pictures.
Bystanders fail to act based on:
Increasing private awareness can
overcome the bystander effect.
Identifying individuals can
overcome the bystander effect.
 “You, in the red sweater, call
 “Mam, I need your help. Go pull
the fire alarm.”
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