Flashcards in Chapter 8 - Conformity Deck (71):
What is conformity?
Changing one's behaviour due to the real or imagined influence of others.
Why do people conform? Give 2 reasons.
1) Informational social influence
- Don't know what to do in a confusing or unusual situation
- Rely on other people's behavior as a cue on how to respond, and they then decide to act in a similar manner.
2) Normative social influence
- Did not wish to be ridiculed/punished for being different from everybody else
- They chose to act the way the group expected so that they wouldn't be rejected or thought less of by group members.
What is informational social influence?
Relying on other people as a source of information to guide our behavior. We conform because we believe that others' interpretation of an ambiguous stiuation is correct and can help use choose an appropriate course of action.
Distinguish between private acceptance and public compliance
Private acceptance: When people conform to other people's behaviour out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right.
Public compliance: Conforming to other people's behaviour publicly without necessarily believing in what the other people are doing or saying.
One involves true acceptance, whereas the other is just you going through the motions. But both involve you conforming to the group's actions.
When will people conform to informational social influence? Which is the most important determinant?
1) When the situation is ambiguous -MOST IMPORTANT
2) when the situation is a crisis
3) When other people are experts
When the situation is ambiguous, why are people highly susceptible to informational social influence?
You are now unsure of the correct response, the appropriate behaviour or the right idea to tackle the situation. Hence, you will be most open to influence from others.
The more uncertain you are, the more you will rely on others.
Why is it that people are susceptible to informational social influence during a crisis? What can possibly result out of this?
A crisis is also an ambiguous situation.
In a crisis situation, we usually do not have time to stop and think about exactly which course of action we should take.
If we feel scared or panicky are uncertain about what to do, it is only natural for us to see how other people are responding and to do otherwise. However, the people we imitate may also feel scared and panicky and may not be behaving rationally. This can result in irrnational behaviour.
Why are other people so inclined to follow what experts do or say? How is this possibly dangerous?
They have a high level of expertise. The more expertise or knowledge has, the more valuable he/she will be as as guide in an ambiguous situation.
Experts can be wrong too, hence they are not always reliable sources of information.
Provide empirical evidence of how people can be susceptible to informational social influence in the lab.
You are seated alone in a dark room and asked to focus your attention on a dot of light 15 feet away. Experimenter then asks you to estimate in inches how far the light moves.
Creation of an ambiguous situation by Sherif
Participants were later paired with 2 other people, each of whom had had the same prior experience alone with the light.
Over the course of several trials as a group, people converged on a common estimate, and each member of the group tended to conform to that estimate.
Results indicate that people were using each other as a source of information, coming to believe that the group estimate was the correct one.
An important feature of informational social influence is that it can lead to private acceptance, when people conform to other people’s behaviour out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right.
However, Sherif thought that public compliance might prevent others from stating their private belief, which may be different from the public consensus. Perhaps done to avoid looking foolish or to avoid standing out from the crowd.
Public compliance: Conforming to other people’s behaviour publicly without necessarily believing in what the other people are doing or saying
He then asked people to judge the lights one more time, but this time back on their own.
Even though the participants no longer had to worry about looking silly in front of other participants, they continued to give the answer the group had given earlier.
One study even found that people still conformed to the group estimate when they participated individually a full year later.
These results suggest that people were relying on each other to define reality and came to privately accept the wisdom of the group
Provide empirical evidence about how information social influence can be used to create private acceptance in real life.
Energy Conservation in households and hotels
- Gave a sample of California residents information urging them to save electricity
- The household members received one of 4 messages: 3 presented basic reasons to conserve (to protect the environment, to benefit society, to save money). The last one contained information designed to promote conformity. In this case, the participants were told that the majority of their neighbours conserved electrical energy.
- The researchers then measured actual energy usage from the homes’ electrical meters.
- Found that the 4th message, containing behaviour of one’s neighbours, caused people to conserve more energy than did the other 3 messages.
“Reuse your bath towels and save energy” vs “Majority of the guests in this very room had reused their towels”: the latter was significantly more effective in increasing hotel guests’ compliance
Provide empirical/real-life evidence about how the perceived/real level of importance of something can lead people to conform.
(smth related to what you learn in PL3233!)
Eyewitness Testimony. - The more important the decision is, the more susceptible you are to social influence, and the more likely you are to conform.
Research participants were first shown a slide of a man - the perpetrator.
They then saw a slide of a lineup composed of 4 men, one of whom was the perpetrator.
IV1: In the lineup, the perpetrator was sometimes dressed differently than he had been in the prior slide. The participant’s job was to pick him out.
Task was made difficult, and more importantly, ambiguous, by presenting the slides extremely quickly.
Study took place in a group consisting of the participants and 3 confederates. Each of the 4 said their answers out loud after viewing each pair of slides.
On the critical 7 trials, where informational social influence would be measured, the three confederates answered before the participant - and all the confederates gave the same wrong answer.
IV2: The researchers also manipulated how important it was to the research participants to be accurate at this task
Participants were told that the upcoming task was a real test of eyewitness identification ability and that police departments and courts would soon be using it to differentiate good eyewitnesses from poor ones → participants’ scores would therefore establish standards against which future eyewitness performance would be judged
Those who were most accurate at the task would receive a $20 bonus from the experimenters.
Hence, participants in this condition were motivated to do well and earn their $20.
This condition mirrors the concerns of many situations in everyday life.
The more important the decision is, the more susceptible you are to social influence, and the more likely you are to conform.
Participants conformed to the confederates’ judgements on 51% of the trials.
The research participants were told that the study was a first attempt to study eyewitness identification and that the slide task was still being developed.
Participants in this condition saw this as just a basic research study like any other, and their performance didn’t seem like it was all that important.
Participants conformed to the confederates’ judgements on 35% of the critical trials.
Why are eyewitnesses intereviewed individually by investigators and they view a lineup individually as well?
Because if you let them view it with other people, they might be susceptible to informational social influence, and there is this risk that they might point the wrong person out LOL what if the innocent go to jail :( recall how it's an important decision to be made, and the more important a decision is, the more likely people are to conform.
In a different eyewitness study, pairs of eyewitnesses each watched separate videos of what they believed to be the exact same event.
Unbeknownst to participants, each member of the pair viewed a slightly different video.
Among pairs that were allowed to discuss the video before each eyewitness took an individual memory test, 71% of witnesses went on to mistakenly recall personally having seen items that only their partner had actually seen.
We conform to the group's ______, which refers to implicit and explicit rules a group has for the acceptable behaviours, values and beliefs. We conform to this to be liked and accepteed by other people.
The presence of social norms allows groups to place expectations on a group member about what?
They have certain expectations about how their members should behave, and members in good standing conform to these rules. Members who do not are perceived as different, difficult and deviant.
Why is normative conformity so powerful in the social media era?
These norms are transmitted faster than ever.
How is the impact of normative conformity exacerbated in collectivistic societies?
Eg: Bullying in Japan → Japan has a highly cohesive, group-oriented culture. A whole class or even an entire school will sometimes turn against one student perceived as different. Can result in suicide.
Hikikomori: Teenagers (mostly male) who have withdrawn from all social interaction. Some of these teenagers were severely bullied before they retreated to a state of withdrawal from social interaction.
We can also be susceptible to normative social influence out of a ________ need for __________.
Explain how this works, and what the lack of fulfillment of this need can lead to
fundamental human; social companionship
We humans are by nature a social species.
Through interactions with others, we receive emotional support, affection and love, and we partake of emotional experiences.
Other people are extraordinarily important to our sense of well-being. Research on individuals who have been isolated for long periods of time indicates that being deprived of human contact is stressful, traumatic and psychologically painful.
Private acceptance + public compliance = ________
Public compliance only = _________
informative social influence
normative social influence
Describe the Asch study
1) Hypothesis + Assumptions.
Asch devised the studies assuming that there are limits to how much people will conform.
Since the situation presented was unambiguous, Asch expected that people would act like rational, objective problem solvers. When the group said or did something that contradicted an obvious truth, surely people would resist social pressures and decide for themselves what was going on.
To test his hypothesis better, Asch told his participants that his experiment was on perceptual judgement, and they’ll be taking it with 7 other students (they were actually confederates and you are the only participant).
Experimented showed everyone 2 cards, one with a single line on it and the other with three lines labelled 1, 2 and 3.
He asks each of you to judge and then announce out loud which of the 3 lines on the 2nd card is closest in length to the line on the first card. You are the last one to answer.
Confederates will say the correct answer at the first few trials, but say the incorrect ones at some later trials (12/18 trials → wrong answer).
Asch set up a situation to discover if people would conform even when the right answer was absolutely obvious.
Expected that people wouldn’t be inclined to conform given that the correct answer was obvious
Found that 76% of the participants conformed and gave an obviously incorrect response on at least one trial.
Can say that normative pressures came into play.
When people in a control group made the judgements by themselves, they were accurate 98% of the time → right answers were very obvious, so it couldn’t have been the ambiguity of the situation that led people to conform.
Even though the other participants were strangers, the fear of being the lone dissenter was so strong that most people conformed, at least occasionally.
Normative pressures usually result in public compliance without private acceptance.
People were concerned about looking foolish even in front of complete strangers.
According to the Asch study, conformity for normative reasons can occur simply because we do not want to risk social disapproval, even from complete strangers we will never see again.
When participants were asked to write down their responses instead, what happened?
Since they no longer had to worry about what the group thought of them because the group would never find out what their answers were, conformity dropped drastically, occurring on an average of only 1.5 of the 12 trials.
What are the main difference between studies studying informational social influence and studies examining normative social influence?
Informational social influence: Need to make situation ambiguous or make the situation appear very important
normative social influence: don't need. make your task ridiculously easy.
What results were obtained when the slides in Asch's line judging task were shown for 5 seconds instead?
Manipulated the importance of the participants being accurate.
Half were led to believe that it was very important that they give the right answers, and half were told that it really didn’t matter how they did.
Confederates then gave the obviously wrong answer on some of the trials
Participants in the low-importance condition conformed to the group on 33% of the critical trials - very close to the rate in Asch’s line judgement task.
Participants in the high-importance condition did conform less. Only conformed on 16% of the trials.
These findings underscore the power of normative social influence: Even when the group, the right answer is obvious, and there are strong incentives to be accurate, some people still find it hard to risk social disapproval, even from strangers.
Explain the consequence of resisting normative social influence with the use of an example.
Stanley Schachter’s study: How a group responds to an individual who ignores normative influence
Asked groups of college students to read and discuss a case history of Johnny Rocco, a juvenile delinquent
Most students took a middle-of-the-road position about the case, believing that Rocco should receive a judicious mixture of love and discipline.
However, unbeknownst to the participants, Schachter had planted an accomplice in the group who was instructed to disagree with the group’s recommendations.
The accomplice consistently argued that Rocco should receive the harshest amount of punishment, regardless of what the other group members argued.
The deviant/accomplice became the target of the most comments and questions of the real participants throughout most of the discussion, and the near the end, communication with him dropped sharply.
The other group members had tried to convince the deviant to agree with them. However, when it appeared that this wouldn’t work, they ignored him altogether.
In addition, they punished him.
After the discussion, they were asked to fill out questionnaires that supposedly pertained to future discussion meetings of their group.
Participants were asked to nominate one group member who should be eliminated from further discussions if the group size had to be reduced.
They nominated the deviant.
Were also asked to assign group members to various tasks in future discussions. They assigned the unimportant or boring jobs, such as taking notes, to the deviant.
Which theory can help predict when people will conform to normative social influence?
Social Impact Theory
What does it propose?
The idea that conforming to social influence depends on the group’s importance, immediacy, and the number of people in the group.
Strength: How important is this group to you?
Immediacy: How close is the group in space and time during the attempt to influence you?
Number: How many people are in the group?
Social Impact Theory predicts conformity will increase as strength and immediacy increase.
The more important a group is to us and the closer group members are to us physically, the more likely we will be to conform to its normative pressures.
It is ALWAYS the case that as group size increases, conformity will increase too. True or false?
False. it only acts as a general guideline.
Conformity increases as the number of people in the group increase, but once the group reaches 4 or 5 other people, conformity does not increase much.
What do you earn if you conform to an important group consistently and for a decent amount of time?
idiosyncracy credits. the tolerance a person earns, over time, by conforming to group norms; if enough credits are earned, the person can, on occasion, deviate from the group without retribution.
Why is it dangerous to get a close-knit group to make decisions?
Normative pressures are much stronger when they come from people whose friendship, love and respect we cherish because there is a large cost to losing this love and respect.
One consequence of this conclusion is that it can be dangerous to have policy decisions made by highly cohesive groups because they care more about pleasing each other and avoiding conflict than arriving at the best, most logical decision.
what happens when one person is able to resist normative pressure?
It will help others resist normative pressures too.
Asch tested the importance of having an ally.
Had 6 out of 7 confederates give the wrong answer while 1 gave the correct answer.
Although still disagreeing with majority of the group, having one ally dramatically changed the situation, helping the subject resist normative pressures.
People conformed on an average of only 6% of the trials in this study, compared to 32% when all of the confederates gave the wrong answer.
Several other studies have found that observing another person resist normative social influence emboldens the individual to do the same.
Why is it there collectivistic cultures, in GENERAL, show higher conformity in Asch's line tasks?
Participants from more collectivistic cultures showed higher rates of conformity on the line task than participants from more individualistic cultures.
Conformity is seen as a valued trait in collectivistic cultures. Agreeing with others is viewed not as an act of submission or cowardice, but as an act of tact and sensitivity.
Because the emphasis is on the group and not the individual, people in collectivistic cultures value normative social influence because it promotes harmony and supportive relationships in the group
However, why is that Japanese participants show less conformity than expected when doing the Asch line task?
They are doing it with strangers and not important people they know. In Japan, cooperation and loyalty are directed to the groups to which one belongs and with which one identifies; there is little expectation that one should conform to the behaviour of strangers, especially in such an artificial setting like a psychology experiment.
What are the differences between fishing societies and agricultural societies?
Societies that relied on hunting or fishing would value independence, assertiveness, and adventurousness - traits needed to find and bring home food. (Eg Inuit people of Baffin Island in Canada)
Societies that were primarily agricultural would value cooperativeness, conformity and acquiescence - traits that made close living and interdependent farming more successful (Eg: Temne of Sierra Leone in Africa, a farming society)
How is it possible for people to conform to minority influence? Provide an example.
The key is consistency: People with minority views must express the same view over time, and different members of the minority must agree with one another. In such cases, the majority is more likely to take notice and even adopt the minority view.
Eg: Climate change → In the 1970s, a minority of scientists began to call attention to evidence of human-caused climate change. Today, the majority is paying attention, and political leaders from various industrialized nations have called for meetings to discuss possible worldwide solutions.
Eg: A minority of feminists began to address women as “Ms” instead of “Miss” or “Mrs”. Today, “Ms” is the standard form of address in the workplace and many other contexts.
Minorities exert their influence through _________ social influence?
How do minorities influence others?
The minority can introduce new and unexpected information to the group and cause the group to examine these issues more carefully
Such careful examination may cause the majority to realize that the minority view has merit, leading the group to adopt all of part of the minority’s view.
minorities acheive public compliance by exerting their social influence. true or false?
false. private acceptance
Describe the Facebook case study
(just know already)
Case Study: Facebook experiment on Election Day
On Election Day, researchers arranged for millions of Facebook users to receive either an informational or social message about voting (a control group received no message at all)
Informational Message: Message about voting appeared at top of news feed and provided a link for finding their local polling place, as well as an “I voted” button they could click to update friends with the news they have voted.
Social Message: Included same information, but with one addition: It told users how many of their own Facebook friends had also voted, showing them a randomly selected set of 6 photos of these voting friends.
Control Condition: No message received
Compared to the control condition, the informational message had little impact on users’ own likelihood of voting.
However, those who received the social message were significantly more likely to vote, as measured by their likelihood of clicking the site’s “I voted” button as well as actual voting records.
These findings highlight just how powerful it can be to learn what others are up to.
Even seeing the social message posted to a friend’s news feed (not by one of your friends but by someone else your friend knows) was enough to have an indirect influence on a Facebook user’s own voting behaviour.
What are injunctive norms?
People’s perceptions of what behaviours are approved or disapproved of by others
Such norms motivate behaviour by promising rewards (or punishment) for normative (or non-normative) behaviour
Eg of such norm: Littering is wrong and that donating blood is a good thing to do.
What are descriptive norms?
People’s perceptions of how people actually behave in given situations, regardless of whether the behaviour is approved or disapproved of by others.
Such norms motivate behaviour by informing people about what is effective or adaptive behaviour.
Eg: While we all know that littering is wrong (injunctive norm), we also all know that there are situations when people are likely to do it (descriptive norm) - for example, dropping peanut shells on the ground at a baseball game or leaving trash at your seat in the cinema.
Also tells us that relatively few people actually donate blood and that only a small % of registered voters actually vote.
Relates to what people actually do
Injunctive norms = what people _________
Descriptive norms = what people __________
approve or disapprove of
expectations vs reality kind of thing
What norms are powerful in producing desirable behaviour?
Describe the littering field experiment in terms of its findings and implications
In the descriptive norm condition, the confederate’s littering communicated 2 different messages, depending on the condition of the parking lot.
In the littered parking lot, the confederate’s behavior reminded participants that people often litter here - the confederate served as just one salient example of the type of behaviour that had led to such a messy parking lot in the first place.
In the clean parking lot, however, the confederate’s behaviour communicated a different message. Now the behaviour stood out as unusual - it reminded participants that most people don’t litter in this area, which is why it looked so clean otherwise.
Hence we would expect the confederate’s littering behaviour to remind participants of a descriptive norm against littering in the clean environment, and this is what researchers found.
In the injunctive norm condition, the confederate’s littering was less context-dependent.
Seeing the confederate picking up someone else’s litter invokes the injunctive norm that littering is wrong in both the clean and the littered environments, thereby leading to the lowest amount of littering in the study.
Researchers have concluded that injunctive norms are more powerful than descriptive norms in producing desirable behaviour.
This is the case because injunctive norms tap into normative conformity - we conform because someone’s behaviour reminds us that our society disapproves of littering.
We will look like selfish slobs if we litter, and we will feel embarrassed if other people were to see us litter.
While norms are always present to some extent - we do know that littering is bad - they are not always salient to us.
Illustrate the boomerang effect with an example.
In recent years, university administrators have tried a new technique for decreasing alcohol binge drinking on their campuses
The idea is that students typically overestimate how much their peers drink.
Thus, according to this premise, telling them that “students at your school, on average, consume only X number of drinks a week” should lead them to decrease their own alcohol intake as they conform to this lower level.
However, researchers noted that such an approach may backfire or “boomerang”.
For students who already drink very little (or not at all), finding out that the average student on campus drinks more than they do leads them to increase their own alcohol intake to be more like everyone else
The public service message meant to decrease alcohol consumption can actually have the effect of increasing it.
What should one take note about the boomerang effect and how to avoid it?
Accordingly, your efforts to change others’ behaviour through processes of conformity must consider that there are different types of people receiving your message: those performing the undesirable behaviour at an above-average level (whom you want to convince to decrease the behaviour) and those performing the undesirable behaviour at a below-average level (who you want to continue doing what they’re already doing rather than to boomerang by increasing the undesirable behaviour)
How to explain the boomerang effect when getting people to conserve energy with the statement "Majority of the people here use ___ amount of energy"
Results indicated that the descriptive norm message had a positive effect on those who consumed more energy that average; they cut back and conserved. However, the descriptive norm message had a boomerang effect on those who consumed less energy than average.
Once they’ve learnt what their neighbours were doing, they felt liberated to increase their own usage.
On the other hand, the “descriptive norm + injunctive norm” message was uniformly successful.
Those whose consumption was more than average decreased their usage when they received this message.
Most importantly, those whose consumption was below average to begin with did not boomerang - they maintained their same, low level of energy use as before the study started.
The smiley face reminded them that they were doing the right thing, and they kept on doing it.
What is the foot-in-the-door technique?
Getting people to agree first to a small request makes them more likely to agree later to a second larger request
Why does the FID technique work?
When you get people to agree to any request, even a small one, they start to see themselves as agreeable people.
They feel committed to a helpful course of action.
To say no to a follow-up request, even if it comes from a different person, could trigger uncomfortable feelings of inconsistency or dissonance.
What is the doof-in-the-face technique?
First asking people for a large request that they will probably refuse makes them more likely to agree later to a second, smaller request
Why does the DIF technique work?
People are also more likely to agree to the request you really care about when you first hit them up with a bigger favour that forces them to say no.
One reason is that the first, bigger request makes the second “ask” seem less daunting by comparison.
Another has to do with feelings of reciprocity. After all, it seems like you - the requestor - have made some concessions here, coming down from your initially huge favour to a more much manageable later request.
To the target of your requests, it feels as if the least they can do is negotiate a bit as well, meeting you halfway and agreeing to something smaller. Of course, little do they know that it was this second, smaller request that you really cared about all along.
A deliberate systematic attempt to advance a causes by manipulating mass attitudes and behaviours, often through misleading or emotionally charged information.
what is this?
Most successful when it taps into an audience’s preexisting beliefs
Why were people so susceptible to informational social influence during Nazi Germany?
Worked because the Germans were facing a crisis then (runaway inflation and economic collapse) - resulted in an ambiguous situation, and turned to these Nazis who were perceived experts for help on what to do.
Why were people to susceptible to normative social influence during Nazi Germany?
Nazi ideology permeated everyday life, and children and youths in Hitler Youth groups were encouraged to spy on their own parents and report them to the Gestapo if they were not “good” Nazis
Anyone could turn you if you did or said something that was deemed to indicate disloyalty
This situation is ripe for normative conformity, through which public compliance can occur even without private acceptance.
Rejection, ostracism or even torture or death were strong motivators for normative conformity, and many Germans conformed to Nazi propaganda.
What kind of social influence made so many participants hit 360 volts button in Milgram's experiment?
normative social influence
Particularly true if the person is in a position of authority.
Milgram’s participants probably believed that if they refused to continue, the experimenter (who represents authority in this case) would be disappointed, hurt, or even angry - all of which puts pressure on them to continue.
Important to note that this experiment, unlike the Asch study, Milgram actively attempted to get people to conform.
When an authority is so insistent that we obey, it is difficult to say no.
In a variation of his own study, Milgram investigated the role of a dissenter and how it led one to be susceptible (or less so) to normative social influence.
What were the results?
The fact that normative pressures were present in the Milgram study is clear from a variation that he conducted.
Now there were 3 teachers, 2 of whom were confederates.
One confederate was instructed to read the list of word pairs and the other to tell the learner whether his response was correct.
The (real) participant’s job was to deliver the shocks, increasing their severity with each error, as in the original study.
At 150 volts (10 mistakes), when the learner gave his first vehement protest, the first confederate refused to continue despite the experimenter’s command that he do so.
At 250 volts, the 2nd confederate refused to continue.
Seeing their peers disobey made it much easier for the actual participants to disobey too.
Only 10% of the participants gave the maximum level of shock in this version of the study.
In yet another variation of his study, Milgram investigated the role of informational social influence in his original study. What were the results?
This version was identical to the original except for 3 critical changes
Experimenter never said which shock levels were to be given, leaving this decision up to the experimenter
Before the study began, the experimenter received a telephone call and had to leave the room, telling the participants to continue without him
There was a confederate playing the role of an additional teacher, whose job was to record how long it took the learner to respond to each word pair. When the experimenter left, this other “teacher” said that he had just thought of a good system: How about they increase the level of shock each time the learner made a mistake? He insisted that the real participant follow this procedure.
In this situation, the person giving the commands has no expertise. He was just a regular person, no more knowledgeable than the participants themselves
Because he lacked expertise, people were much less likely to use him as a source of information about how they should respond.
In this version, full compliance dropped to only 20%.
How did informational social influence manifest itself in Milgram's original study?
The scenario - a study of the effects of punishment on learning - seems straightforward enough when the experimented explained it, but it quickly turned into something else altogether. --> AMBIGUOUS
The learner cried out loud in pain, but the experimented told the participant that the shocks did not cause permanent damage.
The participants did not want to hurt anyone, but he or she had agreed to be in the study and to follow the directions.
When in such a state of conflict, it was only natural for the participants to use an expert (the experimenter who was dressed for the part too lol) to help them decided what was the right thing to do. --> RELIANCE ON EXPERTS
What should Milgram's experimenters if they want to ensure that their participants obey them?
Be firm about the study and don't disagree about the procedure in front of the participant.
In this variation, 2 experimenters gave the real participants their orders.
At 150 volts, when the learner first cried out that he wanted to stop, the 2 experimenters began to disagree about whether they should continue the study.
At this point, every single one of the participants-teachers stopped responding.
In this case, nothing the victim ever did caused all the participants to stop obeying. However, when the authorities’ definition of the situation became unclear, the participants broke out of their conforming role.
When it comes to Milgram's experiment, peoople do conform to the "obey authority" norm, but at the same time they can also be aware when boundaries are being crossed.
Why is it the case that very few of the participants could successfully get themselves out of the situation?
At the beginning of the study, it was perfectly reasonable to heed the norm that says “Obey expert, legitimate authority figures.”
However, as the rules of the games changed, this “obey authority” norm became less and less appropriate.
Involved asking the participant to inflict needless harm on a fellow human being who is innocent
However, once people follow one norm, it can be difficult to switch midstream, to realise that this norm is no longer appropriate, or to recognize that another norm “Do not inflict needless harm on a fellow human being” should be followed.
If participants were told to inflict harm to others at the start of the experiment, very few participants would have agreed to do such a thing.
However, the experimenter pulled a “bait and switch” routine, whereby he first made it look like an “obey authority” norm was appropriate and then only later gradually revealed just how he planned to use his authority in this situation.
Why is it difficult to deviate from the "obey authority" norm? (3)
The study was fast-paced, preventing the participants from stopping to reflect on what they were doing.
They were busy recording the learner’s responses, keeping track of the word pairs and determining if the learner was right or wrong.
Given that they had to attend carefully to these details and move along at a fast pace, it was difficult for them to realize that the norm guiding their behaviour - cooperating with the authority figure - was after a while, no longer appropriate.
Perhaps, if these participants were asked to take a break in the middle of the experiment, or that they were left in the room on their own for a period of time, many more would have successfully redefined the situation and refused to continue.
How did people justify themselves for inflicting pain onto another person in the Milgram experiment?
The participants’ initial agreement to administer the first shock created internal pressure on them to continue to obey
As the participants administered each successive level of shock, they had to justify it in their own minds.
After they had justified a particular shock level, it became very difficult for them to decide on a place where they should draw a line to stop
Each succeeding shock and its justification laid the groundwork for the next shock and would have been dissonant with quitting (215 not far from 200)
Those who did break off the series did so against enormous internal pressure to continue
The incremental nature of the shock task was essential to the level of obedience Milgram observed, much in the same way that incrementally increasing a series of requests allows the foot-in-the-door technique to operate, as described earlier.
What happens when someone makes an important decision?
Every time a person makes an important or difficult decision, dissonance is produced, along with resultant pressures to reduce it.
An effective way of reducing dissonance produced by a difficult decision is to decide that the decision was fully justified
Why do people try to shirk responsibility for their actions?
When faced with the prospect of acting in unpleasant ways, it becomes easier to do so when you can offload personal responsibility for those actions to someone else.
Why are prison guards involved in execution so susceptible to shirking personal responsibility for their jobs?
Have to reduce their cognitive dissonance because their job entails killing another person, which is a supremely problematic and disturbing act.
Often engage in self-justification to reduce cognitive dissonance
By studying guards on the execution team vs fellow guards who did not do executions, what was found?
Significance difference in attitudes held by these 2 types of guards
The execution-team guards demonstrated much more “moral disengagement” from their work
Denied all personal responsibility for the executions
Felt they were just implementing orders, that of a judge and jury
Also engaged in justification in other areas
Compared to the regular prison guards, they dehumanized the prisoners more, seeing them as lacking important human qualities.
Perceived the prisoners as more of a threat to society, such that it was necessary that they be killed.
All these attitudes helped the execution guards reduce their qualms about the morality of what they did at work
What are some criticisms related to the ethics of Milgram's study?
1) Involved the use of deception
Participants were told that it was a study on memory and learning when it wasn’t.
2) Were also told that the electric shocks were real when they were fake
Fully informed consent was not obtained from participants
3) When they agreed to be in the study, they were not informed of its true nature, and thus they never actually consented to take part in the scenario they eventually experienced.
4) The participants’ role at teacher caused them psychological distress during the course of the study
It was not made clear to participants that they had the right to withdraw from the study at any time.
Experimenters did the opposite instead - stated that they “had to continue”
5) Participants experienced inflicted insight
When the study ended, some of them had learned unpleasant things about themselves that they had not agreed to beforehand.
6) More recent critiques have focused on disturbing allegations that Milgram misrepresented his debriefing methods in his published papers, and that many of his research participants actually left the study unaware that the learner had been a confederate and the shocks had been fake.
What are the similarities between Burger's and Milgram's experiment?
Used the same basic verbal prods that Milgram used when participants began to waver
Participants were adult men and women recruited through newspapers advertisements
What are some methodological differences between Burger's and Milgram's experiment?
1) Reduced the psychological distress experienced by participants by stopping the study after 150 volts (learner is first heard yelling that he wants out and refuses to go on)
- When disobedience occurred, it was most likely to happen at this point in the study; most participants who passed the 150-volt mark tended to go all the way to the end of the shock panel anyway.
2) Participants were prescreened by a clinical psychologist, and those who were identified as even slightly likely to have a negative reaction to the experience were excluded from the study (38% were excluded)
3) Burger explicitly and repeatedly told his participants that they could leave the study at any time, as could the learner.
What were the differences between Milgram's participants and Burger's participants? (4)
Their age range of 20-81 years was broader than Milgram’s though their average age of about 43 years was similar
Ethnically more diverse than Milgram’s participants
More highly educated: 40% had college degrees and 20% had advanced degrees
Because the Milgram study was quite well-known, participants who had taken more than two college-level psychology courses were excluded.
What did Burger hypothesize, and what was found?
Hypothesised that people today might be more disobedient than during Milgram’s time but no significant difference in obedience rates between his participants and Milgram’s, even though during the intervening decades, large numbers of Americans took part in civil rights movement and various antiwar protests etc.
What are some limitations faced when comparing Milgram's study and Burger's study?
Some of Burger’s changes may have decreased slightly the likelihood of obedience; others may have increased its likelihood.
Eg: Repeated reminders beforehand that they could withdraw from the study at any time made it easier for participants to ultimately disobey.
Most profound change was stopping the study after 150 volts.
Might have made the study more ethical but you would not know how many participants today would go all the way to 450 volts.
Much of the extraordinary power of the Milgram obedience studies came from participants’ choices after 150 volts, as they continued step by small step to the last switch on the shock generator
It is during this part of the study that participants felt the most conflicted and anxious.
It is here that they revealed their response to a pressing moral conflict, but this information is lost in Burger’s replication since Burger just stopped the experiment here.