Chapter 6Conformity andInfluenceIn Groups “Four out of five dentists recommend…”
Conformity to Group Norms • Norms are expectations governing group member’s behavior. • Norms may be formal, explicit • no cheating on tests • Norms may be informal, implicit • no picking your nose during class • Norms may not be apparent until violated • Is texting during class okay?
Early Conformity Research • 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.
Early Conformity Research • Asch found conformity to group judgments • 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.
Influence of Norms • 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 dysfunctional.
Group Size and Conformity • 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.
Group Size and Conformity • 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
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%.
Factors Affecting Conformity • Identification and reference groups • Reference groups provide standards of comparison for self-appraisal. • “Keeping up with the Joneses…” • People consider reference groups when making decisions. • Groupthink • Members engage in consensus-seeking. • They reinforce one another’s opinions. • They fail to question or analyze ideas.
Gender and Conformity • 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 Pressure and Conformity • Peer influence increases during adolescence. • Peer pressure can promote risky behaviors. • Tobacco, alcohol, drug use • Peer pressure can lead to aggression. • Hazing, teasing, ostracism can spark violence. • Online hazing can trigger suicides. • Peer pressure also has positive effects. • Peers also model desirable behavior.
Personality and Conformity • High self-monitors tend to conform more than low self-monitors. • Dogmatic people tend to conform more than non-dogmatics.
Culture and Conformity • Ethnocentrism • Using one’s own culture as the benchmark for judging other cultures. • Individualism-Collectivism • Individualistic cultures view conformity more negatively. • Collectivistic cultures view conformity more positively.
The Why’s of Conformity • 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 performance. • Consistency • 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 rejection.
Social Proof • 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 crowd.
Social Loafing • 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 • Members coast if individuals’ contributions can’t be distinguished. • Free ride effect • Members coast if they are anonymous. • Members coast if they aren’t personally accountable. • Sucker effect • Productive members slack off when they see others aren’t working.
Risk-Taking Behavior • Risky-shift phenomenon • Groups are prone to make riskier decisions than individuals. • The group’s consensus is typically riskier than the average risk-level of its members. • Group polarization • Groups enhance members’ pre-existing tendencies toward risk-taking or risk-aversion. • High risk-takers skew the average willingness of the group to assume risks. • Social comparison theory • Members entertain ideas they would not otherwise consider. • Persuasive arguments theory (PAT) • The most vocal members advocate the most extreme views. • There can also be a shift toward greater caution • More vocal members may advocate greater caution.
Ostracism • Social ostracism can lead to anti-social behavior • School shootings • Cyber-bullying
Deindividuation • Depersonalization • 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.
The Bystander effect • Richmond, CA, 2009: A 15 year old was the victim of a gang rape outside her high school’s homecoming dance. • The ordeal lasted 2 ½ hours. • At least 20 passers-by failed to call police. • Other witnesses watched, laughed, and took pictures. • People in a crowd who see others doing nothing do nothing themselves. • Bystanders fail to act based on: • social proof • Deindividuation • Increasing private awareness can overcome the bystander effect. • Identifying individuals can overcome the bystander effect. • “You, in the red sweater, call 911!” • “Mam, I need your help. Go pull the fire alarm.”