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Norms And Conformity Notes

Psychology Notes > Social Psychology (2nd year) Notes

This is an extract of our Norms And Conformity document, which we sell as part of our Social Psychology (2nd year) Notes collection written by the top tier of Durham University students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Social Psychology (2nd year) Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Norms and conformity
CONFORMITY TO SOCIAL NORMS
What are social norms?
Norms are accepted ways to think/feel/act that most people in a group agree on
They form in face-to-face interacting groups when group members observe each other's attitudes/behaviours
When people interact in groups, thoughts/emotions/actions tend to become more and more alike
Sherif (1936):
Ps sat alone in a dark room and focused on a light  seemed to jump and disappear then reappear
The observer had to guess how far it moved  didn't actually move
Autokinetic effect (illusory motion)
When group members spoke judgements aloud, members tended to converge and say the same
 created a social norm
Descriptive social norms = agreed upon mental reps of what a group of people think/ feel/ do
 parents do love their children
Injunctive social norms = agreed upon mental reps of a group of people should think/ feel/ do
 parents should love their children
Guala & Mittone, 2010: many people act the same way over and over again  begin to think they should act that way
 descriptive norms become injunctive norms

Role of ambiguity
Could people have conformed because situation was ambiguous and they were uncertain?
Asch, 1951:
 Ps compared standard line with 3 comparison lines and said which of the 3 matched the standard
 Clear, unambiguous perceptual judgments
 Confederates posing as participants gave wrong judgments on some trials
 Actual participants frequently went along
 75% conformed at least once  only 25% never conformed

Why do we conform?
Connectedness: avoid criticism, ridicule from other
Mastery: assume others are correct
Perillo & Kassin, 2011: social influence is so powerful it can make us question our own guilt/ innocence
Kasin & Kiechel, 1996:
 College students type letters quickly or slowly
 Warned not to hit ALT key or the computer would crash
 Computer malfunctioned and Ps accused of hitting ALT
 Student denied  asked confederate if they did hit the ALT key and they said yes Norms and conformity
 Experimenter demands the students write a confession
 69% agreed to do so
 28% Ps privately came to see themselves as guilt
= descriptive norm = accepted the response of multiple others
Conformity = convergence of individual responses towards group norms
Internalisation: Private conformity: deep level
Private acceptance of social norms
Personally convinced that group is correct
Conform even when group is not present
Eg Sherif's experiment  adopted group opinion even though there was no pressure to do so
Compliance: Public conformity: surface level
Overt behaviour consistent with social norms that are not privately accepted
Behave consistently with norms that are not privately accepted as correct
Eg Asch's experiment  went along with incorrect majority to avoid looking stupid in such a simple task

Culture
Jetten, Postmes & McAuliffe, 2002:
Ind cltures less likely to conform due to importance of being unique
BUT when reminded of group norms ie being American in a replication of Asch  conform to this group norm by conforming to the group less
Kim & Markus, 1999:
Conformity is seen more positively in collectivist cultures  view themselves as part of a group -
conformity = social glue
Bond & Smith, 1996:
The more collectivist the culture, the more conformity to the responses of others occurs
 BUT maybe this is just public conformity, not private?

MOTIVATIONAL FUNCTIONS OF CONFORMITY TO NORMS Norms and conformity
Expecting consensus
Most people expect to agree with others
 False consensus effect: Overestimating extent to which others agree with our attitudes, preferences,
behavioral choices
Having others share our views:
 Mastery: Reassures us that we are correct
 when others share our views, their agreement increases our confidence that we our correct =
we like a group consensus
 disagreement with others leaves us uncertain, as Asch and Sherif showed = vulnerable to social influence

Connectedness: Reinforces our connectedness with others
Morrison & Matthes, 2011:
The more important the connection to those others is, the stronger this false consensus effect is
Goel, Amson & Watts, 2010:
Used Facebook to ask Ps about their own political beliefs as perceptions of their friends' attitudes
Ps sig over-estimated the extent to which they and their friends agreed
 overestimate 'people like us'

Agreeing with in-groups fulfills:
Mastery
Informational influence
Connectednes Normative influence s
Me and mine Influence from valued inmotives group

Adopt group consensus because it seems correct
Adopt group consensus to show identification with group
Adopt group consensus to feel positively about self and valued in-group

Mastery: Conformity in order to increase accuracy
Norms as mastery insurance
Agreeing with others assures people they are in contact with a common reality
Others' reactions tell us what the world is like  consensus tells us about reality
Informational influence:
= when people privately conform because they believe a group's norms reflect reality
We believe that the group has more knowledge than us, so accepting their input makes sense
Mannes et al., 2012: Responses that groups converge upon are typically more accurate than judgments of any one group member
Motivation to be accurate can increase conformity, and reliance on others' opinions

Number of others influences conformity:
Insko et al., 1983: variation of Asch
Amount of influence a confederate group had increased as the number in the group increased
BUT only up to a certain point more than 3 confederate did not cause further increases

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