Social Influence and Group Pressures (Free Access)
Social Influence (Read: How To Win Friends & Influence People )
- Social Influence is the effort put by one or more people in order to change the behavior, attitudes, or feelings of others
- Conformity: Here individuals usually change their attitudes or behavior to be in line with existing social norms.
- Social norms are either
clearly defined and known – explicit, or are underlying and not clear –
- Either way, individuals follow them most of the time
- Therefore, it’s easier to predict behaviour
- Facades of conformity
- Conforming would lead to upward mobility.
- More conforming when someone intends to leave the organization
- Conformity reduces personal freedom but to reduce social chaos conforming is important
- Research studies have shown
that even when participants conformed they didn’t agree it was because of
the influence of others on them.
- Reason: focus on internal information rather than on the overt actions (actor-observer effect)
- Introspection illusion: Our belief that social influence plays a miniscule role in shaping our own actions but has a major role in shaping the actions of others.
- Solomon Asch’s study on conformity was pioneering
- Sherif’s autokinetic effect
- Factors responsible for
- To look good to others
- Cohesiveness is the extent to which we are attracted to a social group and want to belong to it.
size: The larger the group, the more pressure to conform.
- Tops of at 3-4 members. Then it levels off.
- Recent studies don’t support this notion and say that group size up to 8 and beyond can also affect conformity
- Descriptive norms: behaving how people generally do in a given situation
- Injunctive norms behaving how one ought to behave.
- Normative focus theory: norms will influence behavior only to the extent that they are important or salient for the people involved
- Zimbardo’s Prison study
- The main purpose of the study was to determine whether participants would come to behave like real guards and real prisoners—whether they would, in a sense, conform to the norms established for these respective roles.
- study after only 6 days; initial plans called for it to last 2 weeks.
- Conclusion: it is the situations in which people find themselves—not their personal traits—that largely determine their behavior
recent research, including another dramatic prison study (this time
conducted jointly by social psychologists and the BBC) offers a much
more optimistic set of conclusions (Reicher & Haslam, 2006)
- In contrast to the findings of the Stanford Prison Study, guards and prisoners in the BBC research did not passively accept their roles. Rather, the guards actually rejected their power over the prisoners while the prisoners, in contrast, identified closely with one another and actually took action to gain equal power.
- They succeeded, and for a time, the “prison” adopted a democratic structure in which guards and prisoners had relatively equal rights.
- When this new structure seemed to fail, however, both groups moved toward acceptance of a rigidly authoritarian approach in which the prisoners surrendered almost totally and no longer offered any resistance to their inequality.
- Social norms and the social structure from which they arise do not necessarily produce acceptance of inequalities.
- Social change occurs because people decide to challenge an existing social structure rather than accept it
- Bystander effect: When in
the presence of a large groups, individuals tend to not help assuming
someone else will.
- Occurs because of Diffusion of responsibility: More number of witnesses present, less likely is the victim going to receive help
- The idea of someone else will do it
if the person requiring help is of the in-group, they are more likely to
- The race of the victim is also important
- Five major decisions before
deciding to help or not
- Observing or failing to observe something unusual in the environment
interpreting an event as an emergency
- Pluralistic ignorance: The tendency of all the bystanders to depend on one another to understand the situation
- Deciding if it is the individuals’ responsibility to provide help
- Deciding if the individual has the knowledge/skill to help
- Making the final decision to provide help
- Helping also requires inhibiting fear
- (Study Tip: Observation, Interpretation, Responsibility,
Knowledge, Decision, Fear Inhibition)
- External factors
responsible for helping
- Helping people we like
- Helping those who are not responsible for their problems
- Exposure to live prosocial models
- Playing prosocial video games
- Mood and helping behaviour
- Positive emotions
- Negative emotions
- Feelings of elevation- “Faith in humanity restored”
- Factors that reduce helping
- Social exclusion
- A reduced form of self-awareness that makes people act in impulsive, wild ways
- Putting an economic value on Prosocial Behaviour
- Effects of being helped
- Perceived motives matter
- Sometimes can work
negatively because self-esteem may being to suffer
- Especially if the one being helped is of a lower status
- Non conformity
restrictions that often influence the thought, expression, and behavior
of most people don’t seem to apply to the powerful
- Powerful people are less dependent on others for obtaining social resources
- They may not pay much attention to threats from others or efforts to constrain their actions in some way
- They may be less likely to take the perspective of other people and so be less influenced by them.
- People who possessed power, or were merely primed to think about it, were in fact less likely to show conformity to the actions or judgments of others than people lower in power
- Overall, then, situational information might have less influence on their attitudes, intentions, actions, and creative expressions
- The restrictions that often influence the thought, expression, and behavior of most people don’t seem to apply to the powerful
- External factors responsible for helping
- One of the most obvious and
direct influences on attitudes and behavior is the power of authority
- Parents, teachers, police, judges
- Why do we conform so
readily to authority?
- Fear of punishment
- Consequences for disobeying
- Stanley Milgram’s Obedience
- Was interested in studying whether or not most people would continue to obey an authority figure, even at the expense of another person.
- Social loafing: In a group, each additional individual puts in less effort, thinking that others will be putting in their effort.
What is a Group?
- A group may be defined as an organised system of two or more individuals, who are interacting and interdependent, who have common motives, have a set of role relationships among its members, and have norms that regulate the behaviour of its members.
social unit with a unique identity where there are two or more individuals who
perceive themselves as belonging to the group.
- Characteristic of the group helps in distinguishing one group from the other and gives the group
- Common motives: A group has common motives and goals. They work towards goals, or away from certain threats.
- Interdependency: A group is interdependent on its members. Each doing their own part
- Goal directed/Need based: Individuals who are trying to satisfy a need through their joint association also influence each other.
- Communication: A gathering of individuals who interact with one another either directly or indirectly.
and Norms: A group has interactions that are structured by a set of roles and
norms. Norms are created by the group members and determine how individuals
behave in the group and specify the behaviours expected from group members.
different from a crowd as there is neither any structure nor feeling of
belongingness in a crowd.
- Irrational behaviour in crowds no interdependence among members.
are special kinds of groups.
- In groups, performance is dependent on contributions of individual members.
- In teams, both individual contributions and teamwork matter.
- In groups, the leader or whoever is heading the group holds responsibility for the work.
- However in teams, although there is a leader, members hold themselves responsible
- It’s different from a crowd as there is neither any structure nor feeling of belongingness in a crowd.
- Mob behaviour is characterised by homogeneity of thought and behaviour as well as impulsivity.
Reasons for joining Groups
- Security: Groups reduce individual insecurity by diffusion of responsibility, sense of comfort, and protection. Individuals feel stronger, and are less vulnerable to threats.
- Status: Perceived to be important by others when individuals are group members.
- Self-esteem: Groups provide feelings of self-worth and establish a positive social identity. Being a member of prestigious groups enhances one’s self-concept.
- Satisfaction of one’s psychological and social needs: Needs such as sense of belongingness, giving and receiving attention, love, and power are fulfilled through a group.
- Goal achievement: Groups help in achieving such goals which cannot be attained individually.
- Provide knowledge and information: Group membership provides knowledge and information and thus broadens our view. As individuals, we may not have all the required information. Groups supplement this information and knowledge.
- Proximity: when we are around the same group of people, there are higher chances of building relationship. Commonality in interests, attitudes, and background are important determinants of your liking for your group members.
Similar interests, attitudes and backgrounds, help people negotiate with one
another and understand each other better. Leading to building of groups. Psychologists
have given several explanations for this.
- One explanation is that people prefer consistency and like relationships that are consistent.
- When we meet similar people, they reinforce and validate our opinions and values, we feel we are right and thus we start liking them
- Common motives and goals: When people have common motives or goals, they get together and form a group which may facilitate their goal attainment.
Stages of Group Formation
- Groups usually go through different stages of formation, conflict, stabilisation, performance, and dismissal.
- Tuckman suggested that groups pass through five developmental sequences.
- These are: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
- Forming: When group members first meet, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the group, the goal, and how it is to be achieved. People try to know each other and assess whether they will fit in. There is excitement as well as apprehensions.
- Storming: Intragroup conflict will occur here. In this stage, there is conflict among members about how the target of the group is to be achieved, who is to control the group and its resources, and who is to perform what task. When this stage is complete, some sort of hierarchy of leadership in the group develops and a clear vision as to how to achieve the group goal.
- Norming: Group members by this time develop norms related to group behaviour. This leads to development of a positive group identity.
- Performing: By this time, the structure of the group has evolved and is accepted by group members. The group moves towards achieving the group goal. For some groups, this may be the last stage of group development.
- Adjourning: For some groups, there may be another stage known as adjourning stage. In this stage, once the function is over, the group may be disbanded. However, it must be stated that all groups do not always proceed from one stage to the next in such a systematic manner.
- Sometimes several stages go on simultaneously, while in other instances groups may go back and forth through the various stages or they may just skip some of the stages.
TYPE OF GROUPS
Major types of groups are enumerated below :
and Secondary Groups:
groups have pre-existing formations which are usually given to the individual e.g
- Face to face interaction
- Emotional bonds
- Boundaries are fixed
- Important for developing beliefs and values
groups are those which the individual joins by choice. E.g. football clubs,
- relationships among members are more impersonal,
- less frequent
- Boundaries are not set
- Primary groups have pre-existing formations which are usually given to the individual e.g family, caste
and Informal Groups:
functions of a formal group are explicitly stated as in the case of an office
- The roles to be performed by group members are stated in an explicit manner.
- The formation of formal groups is based on some specific rules or laws and members have definite roles.
- There are a set of norms which help in establishing order.
- The formation of informal groups is not based on rules or laws and there is close relationship among members.
- The functions of a formal group are explicitly stated as in the case of an office organisation.
- Ingroup and Outgroup:
refers to one’s own group also referred to as us or we
- Members are similar and favoured
refers to another group, also referred to as they or them
- Members are different and discriminated
- These differences can be easily understood by studying Tajfel’s experiments called as the minimal group paradigms where random division of group also lead individuals to support the in-group in comparison to the out-group.
- Ingroup refers to one’s own group also referred to as us or we
- It has been found that groups are more likely to take extreme decisions than individuals alone. Strengthening of the group’s initial position as a result of group interaction and discussion is referred to as group polarisation. This may sometimes have dangerous repercussions as groups may take extreme positions, i.e. from very weak to very strong decisions.