Ch 7 PP

Chapter 7
Social Influence as “Automatic”
• Do humans imitate one another automatically,
without thought, effort, or conflict?
• Tendency to change perceptions, opinions, or
behavior in ways that are consistent with
group norms.
The Early Classics
• Sherif’s study (1936)
• Asch’s study (1951)
What Did Asch’s Participants Do?
• Participants went along with the clearly
incorrect majority 37% of the time.
• However, 25% of the participants NEVER
• Still, 50% conformed for at least half of the
critical presentations.
– The rest conformed on an occasional basis.
Why Do People Conform?
• Informational Influence: People conform
because they believe others are correct in
their judgments.
• Normative Influence: People conform because
they fear the consequences of appearing
Types of Conformity
• Private Conformity: Changes in both overt
behavior and beliefs.
• Public Conformity: Superficial change in overt
behavior only.
Majority Influence: Group Size
• Conformity increases with group size -- but
only up to a point.
• Why?
– Law of “diminishing returns”?
– Perception that others are either in “collusion” or
“spineless sheep”?
Majority Influence:
Having an Ally in Dissent
• When there was an ally in Asch’s study,
conformity dropped by almost 80%.
• Why does having an ally reduce majority
influence on our behavior?
– Substantially more difficult to stand alone for
one’s convictions than when one is part of even a
tiny minority.
– Any dissent can reduce the normative pressures to
Minority Influence:
The Power of Style
• Moscovici: Nonconformists derive power from
the style of their behavior.
– “Consistent dissent” approach
• Hollander: Minorities influence by first
accumulating idiosyncrasy credits.
– “First conform, then dissent” strategy
Processes and Outcomes of Minority
• Does minority influence work just like the
process of conformity?
• Do majorities and minorities exert influence in
different ways?
– Because of their power and control, majorities
elicit public conformity through normative
– Because seen as seriously committed to their
views, minorities produce private conformity, or
Culture and Conformity
• Cultures differ in the extent to which people
adhere to social norms.
• What determines whether a culture becomes
individualistic or collectivistic?
– The complexity of the society
– The affluence of the society
– The heterogeneity of the society
• Changes in behavior that are elicited by direct
Mindlessness and Compliance
• Talking fast and catching people off guard can
improve compliance rates.
• People can be disarmed by the simple
phrasing of the request.
– How you ask for something can be more
important than what you ask for.
– Langer: We often respond mindlessly to words
without fully processing the information they are
supposed to convey.
Mindlessness and Compliance (cont’d)
• Mindlessness can make us more vulnerable to
compliance, but can also have opposite effect
Norm of Reciprocity
• The powerful norm of reciprocity dictates that
we treat others as they have treated us.
– This norm leads us to feel obligated to repay for
acts of kindness, even when unsolicited.
• Norm of reciprocity is relatively short-lived.
Sequential Request Strategies:
Foot-in-the-Door Technique
• Person begins with a very small request;
secures agreement; then makes a separate
larger request.
• Why is it effective?
– Self-perception theory revisited
Sequential Request
Strategies: Low-Balling
• Person secures agreement with a request and
then increases the size of that request by
revealing hidden costs.
• Why is it effective?
– Psychology of commitment
Sequential Request Strategies:
Door-in-the-Face Technique
• Person begins with a very large request that
will be rejected; then follows that up with a
more moderate request.
Sequential Request
Strategies: That’s Not All, Folks!
• Person begins with a somewhat inflated
request; then immediately decreases the
apparent size of the request by offering a
discount or bonus.
Sequential Request Strategies
Assertiveness: When People Say No
• To be able to resist the trap of compliance
techniques, one must:
– Be vigilant
– Not feel indebted by the norm of reciprocity
• Compliance techniques work smoothly only if
they are hidden from view.
• Behavior change produced by the commands
of authority
Milgram’s Research:
Forces of Destructive Obedience
• Conducted his experiments during the time
that Adolph Eichmann was being tried for Nazi
war crimes.
• His unorthodox methods have been the
subject of much ethical debate.
The Learner’s Protests in the Milgram
The Learner’s Protests in the Milgram
The Obedient Participant
• Milgram’s participants were tormented by
• No gender differences observed in level of
• Milgram’s basic findings have been replicated
in several different countries and among
different age groups.
Factors that Influence Obedience
Important Factors That
Influence Obedience
• Physical presence and apparent legitimacy of
the authority figure
• The victim’s proximity
• The experimental procedure
– Participants were led to feel relieved of personal
responsibility for the victim’s welfare.
– Gradual escalation was used.
Defiance: When People Rebel
• Social influence can also breed rebellion and
• Having allies gives individuals the courage to
The Continuum of Social Influence
Social Impact Theory
• Social influence depends on three factors:
– The strength of the source
– The immediacy of the source to the target in time
and space
– The number of sources
Social Impact: Source and Target Factors
Perspectives on Human Nature
• Are people generally malleable or unyielding?
• Cultural differences
– Some cultures value autonomy and independence
whereas others place more emphasis on
conformity to one’s group.
– Within a given culture, these values can change
over time.