The dangers of social influence
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What is deindividuation?
- The phenomenon in which people are more likely to adhere to group norms if they see themselves purely in terms of group identity
- From a meta analysis of 60 studies it was concluded that people appeared to adhere more to situational norms than general ones (Postmes & Spears, 1998)
- Reicher (1987) argues that people don't lose self awareness when deindividuated, they just increase their awareness as themselves as part of a group explaining why they breach wider norms
- People were found to display a significantly greater number of prosocial behaviours in the presence of positive stimuli and the opposite (non significant) effect for negative ones when deindividualised (Johnson & Downing, 1979)
- See also Zimbardo (1969)
How has obedience been investigated?
- Miligram (1963)
- Described to 40 psychologists and nobody thought they would go above 150 vaults
- 65% went all the way to severe (450 vaults)
- There were no gender differences
- Teacher is concerned with the researcher thinking they are competent and not appearing rude so choose obedience as a preferable alternative
- To refuse would be an implicit criticism of the researcher
- The situation was ambiguous with participants unsure which was of greater importance, the study or the comfort of the participants
- People wanted to stop, they just didn't know how to as they lack cultural scripts ('he was hollerin' in there'
What is escalation?
- The concept that if someone backs out and abandons the task they are complicit in, then they are acknowledging that what they were doing was wrong
- Continuing reassures people of their actions, early discomforts are placated
- Nobody would have given them 450 if it was from the start according to one person in Burger (2009)
Are Milgram's (1963) findings replicated?
- Yes- Burger (2006)
- Same design as Milgram (1963)
- 70% were stopped after 150 (as 100% of those exceeding this in Millgram's study went all the way)
- Despite seeing a confederate refuse to shock the learner in another condition, 63% had to be stopped at 150
- No significant difference between conditions despite predictions that seeing someone refuse would decrease obedience
Did Milgram really see obedience?
- Could be conformity instead
- Milgram used standardised requests:
- Please continue
- The experiment requires that you continue
- It is absolutely essential that you continue
- You have no other choice, you must go on
- In Burger 2009 he framed them as orders, not a single person obeyed
Which conditions deter obedience?
- If the learner and the teacher are in the same room
- If the learner's hand was physically placed on the shock plate by the teacher
- This could suggest that visual cues of another's pain trigger an empathic response that counters one's desire to appear polite and follow social conventions
- If the researcher gives instructions then leaves obedience falls to 21% (Milgram, 1974)
- If more than one confederate dissents it falls to 10%
- If more than one researcher give contradictory studies (undermining scientific consensus) it falls to 0%
- When the experiment moved from Yale to a commercial building in Bridgeport it fell to 48%
What is the bystander effect?
- Latane & Darley (1969)
- The more people that are present, the less likely people are to help someone in danger or accept responsibility and take charge
- Put p's in a room that was filling with smoke
- 75% reported it when alone, and 10% when in the presence of passive others
- This effect was more pronounced when there were more confederates, a more ambiguous situation and the situation was not construed as an emergency (lack of response from others)
- This does not occur with friends or when the victim is known
Does the bystander effect only occur when others are physically present?
- No, as proved by the case of Larry Froistad (1998)
- Confessed to purposefully getting drunk and setting his house on fire, killing his daughter on an internet forum for alcohol abuse
- 3 of the 200+ people who saw the post reported him to the police and he was later arrested
What is social facilitation?
- Zajonc (1965)
- Our performance on learned and simple tasks is increased as our arousal increases, and the presence of others increases our arousal
- Arousal leads to dominant response, which if correct boosts performance and vice versa
- This was demonstrated in humans (Markus, 1978), cockroaches (Zajonc, Heingartner & Herman, 1969) and; dogs (run faster), chickens (ate more food), ants (built bigger nests) and rats (had more sex) (Zajonc, 1965)
What is the away game advantage?
- The phenomenon in which sports teams perform significantly worse when playing at home due to fear of evaluation from fans
- (Baumeister & Steinhilber, 1984)
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