Social Influence: Conformity and Obedience

Chapter 18
Conformity – adjusting one’s behavior to coincide with a
group standard.
Q List specific examples of Conformity?
Face the Rear An Illustration of Social Influence
Behaviour Management
p.703 Q. Conformity or individualism
Chameleon Effect p. 705
Why do we conform?
Normative social influence – conforming to
group pressure out of a need for approval and
 We
want to adhere to social norms because the price
we pay for breaking those norms may be severe.
 Ex. Applauding at a play, even if you did not enjoy the
Ex. Standing for the pledge of allegiance
 Give
an example of when you or someone else has
gone against the normative social influence.
Social Norms (1:20--??)
Asch’s conformity experiments(1955)
Participant joins group of five seated at a table.
The experimenter asks which of three comparison
lines is identical to a standard line. On the third
question the first 5 “participants” give the same
wrong answer. The last participant struggles with
what answer to give.
Asch’s findings – More than 1/3 of the time “well
meaning college students were willing to call
white black.”. Asch Conformity Experiment –
YouTube Page 732
Q. Activity guess the time
Conformity increases when
 Made
to feel incompetent
 Group has at least 3 people
 The group is unanimous
 One admires the groups attractiveness
 Others in the group are observing your behavior
 One’s culture strongly respects social standards.
Political/Social Conservatives more likely than
liberals to conform.
Why do we conform?
Informational Social Influence – conforming because
of a need for information and direction.
Conform because others may have more information than
we do.
 Ex. Signing up for a class due to strong recommendations
from friends
Ex. Political Opinions in San Francisco, New York City where large
majority are liberal democrats and rural areas of the bible belt or
Matthews/Mint Hill where majority are conservative Republicans)
Ex. NRA members, union members, racist blacks, racist whites.
Joseph Goerbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister understood that if he
could get a majority of people in a country believing in his big lie story
then he can get most of the non believers.
Obedience – following direct commands, usually
from an authority figure.
While reading p. 734- 735 ask yourself: if put in
the same situation how far would you go?
Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Study
Advertisement for a Yale University study that “concerns
the effects of punishment on learning.”
Subjects become “teachers.” Their job is to teach and then test
the learner on a list of word pairs. The learner is punished for
a wrong answer by giving brief electric shocks. After each
wrong answer the teacher is to give a higher voltage of shock.
How is this foot-in-the-door effect?
Experimenter encourages you to continue delivering shocks
for wrong answers.
Findings of the study – 63% complied fully (15 volts 450 volts)human behavior experiments
Milgram’s study is criticized for failure to meet ethical
requirements. (How much deception is too much?)
Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Study
Subjects were debriefed
 Milgram repeated the study with new “teachers.”
His results were consistent with previous findings
(65% fully complied)
 What
details affected compliance rate?
 Legitimate
authority figure giving orders
 Prestige of the university
 The victim is at a distance / Depersonalized
 No role models for defiance (subjects did not see any others
refuse to shock the learner)
Applying Milgram’s Study…
How is this study applicable to reality
Police Officer imposter in McDonald’s
Holocaust and obedience
9/11 terrorists obeyed orders (from Allah) to kill for later reward
Soldiers who obey authorities even though they know what they
are doing is wrong
Adhering to our own standards vs. responding to others
Milgram said, “the most fundamental lesson of our study is
that ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without
any particular hostility on their part, can become agents
in a terrible destructive process.”
Curiosity: How Evil Are You? | The Milgram Experiment - YouTube