outline10.Obedience and Conformity

Conformity II
We will continue to discuss conformity. Some
of the slides in this outline are repeated from the
previous lecture because we did not finish
discussing them.
Normative social influence
Normative influence: Conformity occurs when
a person fears the negative consequences of
appearing deviant.
If write answers privately, conformity drops
Unanimous group
When the group’s position is unanimous,
conformity is greater.
If one person dissents (an ally), conformity
Normative Social Influence
„When Will People Conform to
Normative Social Influence?*
Asch’s research show that conformity does
not increase much after group size reaches
4 or 5 other people.
Normative Social Influence
„Resisting Normative Social Influence
The first step in resisting normative social
influence is to become aware that we are
doing it. The second step is to find an ally
who thinks like we do.
Normative Social Influence
„Resisting Normative Social Influence
Additionally, if you conform to group norms
most of the time, you earn idiosyncracy
credits that give you the right to deviate
occasionally without serious
Normative Social Influence
„Minority Influence: When the Few
Influence the Many
Moscovici (1985) argues that a minority can
affect change in the majority. The key to
this is consistency over time and consistent
unanimity among members of the minority.
Obedience and Conformity in
Everyday Life
Candid Camera Video (For each episode, think about
why people might be conforming and what kinds of
social influence strategies might be operating.)
Face the Rear: Why are people conforming?
Influence tactics for sharing ice cream: What kinds of
social influence strategies are being used?
Picketing against everything with nothing:
Don’t walk on the black squares:
Don’t Eat Light:
Delaware closed today:
Who is most likely to conform?
Age, gender, culture, personality
Age and Conformity
Adolescents are most likely to conform.
Berndt (1979): Students in grades 3, 6, 9, and 12
reported on how they would react if their
friends tried to get them to see a movie, help a
new kid on the block, cheat on a test, soap
windows on Halloween, or do other things.
Gender and conformity
Women are slightly more likely than men, but
the difference is very small and depends on the
specific type of situation.
Whether gender differences occur depends
on how comfortable men OR women are
with the task.
Gender and conformity
Sistrunk & McDavid (1971)
QuasiQuasi-IV: male vs. female participants
IV: Questions about stereotypically masculine,
feminine, or neutral topics
DV: Percent agreeing with “majority” response
Culture and conformity
Norwegians (more cohesive society) conformed
more than French (less cohesive) in an Asch
replication (Milgram
(Milgram,, 1961, 1977)
But, Japanese showed less conformity in Asch
paradigm than did North Americans. (Perhaps
because the “group” included strangers and not
members of the participants’ own valued group.)
Culture and conformity
In general, cultures valuing interpersonal
harmony (e.g., some cultures in Asia, Africa, and
South America) show greater conformity.
Collectivistic cultures (e.g., Hong Kong, Congo,
Brazil) showed more conformity than individualistic
cultures (e.g., U.S., Canada)
Personality and Conformity
People with low self-esteem may be more likely
to conform than those with high self-esteem.
Some studies have found evidence for this link, but
other studies do not. It is likely that variability exists
across social situations.
What happens when people resist
group pressure?
Social norms: The implicit or explicit rules a
group has for acceptable behaviors, values, and
beliefs of its members.
Think of a situation in which you did not
conform. How did other people react to you?
The price of deviance
Ridicule, punishment, rejection
Example: Schachter’s (1951) study of
nonconformity (The “Johnny Rocco” study)
Compliance techniques
Compliance: Agreeing to do something -- does
not require private acceptance.
Norm of reciprocity
The expectation that, if someone gives you
something, you should give them something in
Compliance: Norm of reciprocity
Regan (1971) Norm of reciprocity
IV: Confederate acts likable or dislikable
IV: Confederate buys P a Coke without
being asked OR does not buy P a Coke OR
E buys P a Coke
DV: Whether or not Ps buy raffle tickets and
amount spent on them
Mindlessness/Automatic Pilot (Langer & colleagues,
IV: How phrased request:
„ Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the
xerox machine? (No reason)
„ ....because I’m in a rush. (real reason)
„ ...because I have to make some copies (illusion of
a reason)
DV: Percent agreeing to request
Injunctive vs. Descriptive Norms
Injunctive norms: People’s perceptions of what
behaviors are approved or disapproved of by
others. Ex: It’s wrong to litter.
Descriptive norms: People’s perceptions of how
people actually behave in given situations,
regardless of whether the behavior is approved
or disapproved of by others.
Ex: People sometimes litter – e.g., leave trash
under chair at movies.
Norm study
Reno, Cialdini,
Cialdini, & Kallgren,
Kallgren, 1993
IV1: Control: Confederate walks by
Descriptive norm: Confed drops bag on
Injunctive norm: Confed picked up a
littered bag
IV2: Area clean or littered
Found a handbill on their windshield
Who will litter?
Using Social Influence
• The Role of Injunctive and Descriptive
Main point
• Injunctive norms are better at producing
desirable behavior than are descriptive