PSY101 Chapter 16

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Jo Yeates's Landlord Christopher Jefferies 'Getting on with life'
The landlord of Jo Yeates has said he is reaching the point where he can get on with his life again.
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What you should be able to do after reading chapter 16
Understand how people are influenced by individuals, authority, group norms and minorities; know what affects people's performance of tasks in groups, and how groups make decisions and are influenced by leaders
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Questions to think about
If someone ordered you to do something that caused serious harm to another person, would you do it? How does the presence of an audience affect the way you perform? Is there such a thing as team spirit?
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Social influence
The social process responsible for attitude change (discussed in Chapter 15) is social influence.
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Compliance
Research on compliance focuses on the conditions under which people will go along with a request or do someone a favour.
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Ingratiation
One very effective method is ingratiation, which involves getting people to like you - flattery may not get you everywhere, but it is surprisingly effective. People are much more likely to agree to a request from someone they like or find attractive.
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Reciprocity
Another effective method for ensuring others will comply with your requests is first to do them a favour. This takes advantage of a powerful human expectation of reciprocity - the tendency to return favours others have done for us.
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Multiple requests
A third technique for gaining compliance involves the use of multiple requests.
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Obedience
Research confirms that people tend to comply with the requests of people in authority and to be swayed by their persuasive arguments, and that such obedience is generally approved of by society. Obedience can be quite mindless.
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Milgram and obedience to authority in the twenty-first century
Most Psychologists thought it would never happen but, in 2007, a psychologist from Santa Clara did it. On 3 January 2007, the American current affairs programme, Primetime, featured a replication of Milgram's study, conducted by Jerry Burger.
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Conformity
Compliance and obedience produce changes in people's behaviour, but in general such changes do not correspond to a change in people's attitudes or other internal cognitive structures.
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The social psychology of attribution - An international perspective
People frequently talk of differences between the East and the West. Almost any psychological quirk in people from these two terrains can be attributed to one group having a 'Western' style of thinking or behaving and the other an 'Eastern' one.
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Norms
People, particularly in individualistic Western societies, often think that they are not very influenced by norms and conventions. Indeed, conforming is often viewed as undesirable, as an indication of a weak personality, a lack of individual autonom
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Majority influence
Asch's studies were less to do with the emergence of norms and more to do with how a numerical majority can influence a single person. Asch asked several groups of seven to nine students to estimate the lengths of lines presented on a screen.
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The process of conformity
Why do people conform? Or rather, what is the process by which people conform? There are at least three reasons why people conform (Turner, 1991). The first is that people like to think their perceptions and attitudes are accurate and valid.
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The Stanford Prison experiment
On a par with the ethical vortex that is Milgram's obedience experiments is Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison experiment, another of social psychology's ground-breaking studies (Zimbardo, 1982).
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Minority influence
Conformity research tends to focus on the way that a numerical majority influences the attitudes and behaviour of a minority. A valid question arises then as to whether a minority can influence the majority - what facilitates minority influence.
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People in groups
Human beings are unmistakably social creatures: a great deal of our lives is spent in the company of others.
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The treatment of marginal group members and deviants
Many of the groups we are in, our in-groups, provide the psychological environment for the self and are therefore fundamental, or even primary, to our sense of who we are (Allport, 1954; Yzerbyt et al., 2000).
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Which is more important - the individual or the group?
There is evidence that people may store information about the individual and the collective self in separate cognitive 'baskets' (Trafimow et al., 1991)
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Social facilitation
You saw in the above discussion of social influence that the behaviour of other people has a powerful effect on our behaviour. Studies have shown that the mere presence of other people can affect a person's behaviour.
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Social loafing
Working together on a task, rather than merely being watching by others or simply being in the presence of others, can have additional effects: the presence of a group sometimes results in a decrease in effort, or social loafing.
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Group decision-making
One of the most significant tasks that people perform in groups is decision-making. Group decision-making usually involves discussion that transforms a diversity of opinions into a single group decision.
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Group remembering
For groups to make decisions they need to marshal a substantial amount of material that is stored in memory. Do groups facilitate or impede memory?
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Group polarisation
We often think of committees and other small decision-making groups as being cautious and conservative in making decisions.
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Groupthink
Irving Janis has studied a related phenomenon that sometimes occurs in group decision-making - groupthink, the tendency to avoid dissent in the attempt to achieve group consensus (Janis, 1972, 1982).
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Psychology in action: The social psychology of drunkenness
How does alcohol affect your behaviour? Is it any different when you are alone or in a group? Are groups more risky or dangerous when they are drinking?
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Leadership
Our discussion of groupthink has identified the important role of leaders in group decision-making. Indeed, it is very difficult to envisage groups without leaders.
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Crowds and social movements
Crowds are clearly group events; however, they seem to be somewhat different from other group phenomena we have discussed.
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Negotiation, teamwork and leadership - An international perspective
From selling detergent to securing peace in Northern Ireland or the Middle East, the ability to negotiate with others is an important social skill.
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When crowds go wrong: Football hooliganism
Since the early 1970s European, but particularly English, football has become strongly associated with hooliganism. Football 'hooliganism' involves groups of people behaving in the same way.
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Intergroup relations and prejudice
Our discussion of social protest leads neatly into this next topic. Social protest involves one group of people protesting against another group - often a minority group protesting against the government. It is a manifestation of intergroup relations
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Intergroup behaviour
Intergroup behaviour tends to be competitive and ethnocentric, that is, people tend to view all attributes of their group as being better than all attributes of any out-group they compare themselves with.
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Realistic conflict and interdependence
One explanation of why and how this happens was developed on the basis of a series of three famous field experiments conducted by Sherif and his colleagues in 1949, 1953 and 1954 at summer camps for young boys in the US (see Sherif, 1966).
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Frustrated goals and relative deprivation
A key feature of realistic conflict theory is the argument that intergroup conflict rests on competitive goals that cause each group to impede or frustrate each other's attempts to achieve their goals.
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Humour, aggression and motivation: self-determination theory
According to self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 2000), autonomy motivation involves behaviour that includes making choices for oneself, acting according to values and principles that are respected and endorsed, and initiating behaviour.
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Social identity
Although competitive goals and a sense of relative deprivation certainly do encourage conflict and hostile intergroup attitudes and behaviour, there is also substantial evidence that the mere existence of social categories or groups can be sufficient
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Ostracism
Research by Zadro et al. (2005) shows that people can feel worse when they are the target of ostracism (being excluded and ignored in the presence of others) than the target of a verbal dispute.
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Prejudice
Intergroup
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Understand how people are influenced by individuals, authority, group norms and minorities; know what affects people's performance of tasks in groups, and how groups make decisions and are influenced by leaders

Back

What you should be able to do after reading chapter 16

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If someone ordered you to do something that caused serious harm to another person, would you do it? How does the presence of an audience affect the way you perform? Is there such a thing as team spirit?

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The social process responsible for attitude change (discussed in Chapter 15) is social influence.

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Research on compliance focuses on the conditions under which people will go along with a request or do someone a favour.

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