Social Influence and Group Processes

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Social Influence and Group Processes

1. What is conformity?

Conformity is any alteration in an individual’s behavior so as to coincide closely with group standards, for example, people who pick up heavy drinking upon joining college even though they were not heavy drinkers before (King 424).

2. Explain Asch’s Conformity Experiment. Include details about the experiment and the results of the study.

King (424) describes that Asch’s conformity experiment uses 6 people to test conformity. The experiment involves 5 participants who are part of the experiment and an individual who is unaware of the fact. Two cards are shown to the participants with the first having a single vertical line drawn on it and the second with three vertical lines with varying length. The task is a simple determination of which of the line sin the second card has the same length as the line given on the first card. The first several trials involve total agreement on which line is a match. On the fourth trial, the other participants pick similar incorrect lines. The conformity experiment now tests the last participant in the way they make a choice, either based on what the eyes see or through conforming to what the others said. Volunteer participants conformed to incorrect answers 35% of the time. The pressure to conform is always very high (King 424).

3. What is the difference between normative and informational conformity?Normative conformity is the influence another group or individuals have on a person because of the latter’s desire to be liked/loved (King 424). For example, an individual is likely to adopt the ways of a gang in order to find favor, such as using slang language and assuming specific attitudes to fit in a group. Informational conformity is the influence other people have on an individual because the latter want to be right, for example group members may have certain knowledge that a person lacks so the latter follows the group to be right (King 424).

4. What is obedience?

Obedience is defined by King (425) as behavior that complies with explicit demands of a person in authority, for example lifting one’s hands up when instructed by the police.

5. Explain Milgram’s Experiment. Include details about the experiment and the results of the study.

King (425) describes Stanley Milgram’s experiment where part of a psychology experiment directs a person to deliver a series of electric shocks to another individual. The role of the participant as a teacher is to punish the learner by increasing the shock intensity every time a mistake is made. The learner is a 50-year-old man with a heart condition strapped to a chain in the next room (a confederate). The apparatus to be used has 30 switches ranging from 15 volts to 450 volts marked as beyond dangerous. The learner makes mistakes early in the experiment and as the shock intensity is increased, he expresses that he is in pain. He demands that experiment be stopped at 150 volts and at 180 volts screams that he is unable to handle the pain. At 300 volts, the learner yells about his condition. Any hesitation from the participant elicits more commands from the experimenter to continue citing that the test must continue. Eventually the learner stops responding and the experimenter defines the rules that failure to respond is treated as a wrong answer. The learner is completely unresponsive and could be severely injured or dead. In the experiment, a majority of the participants obeyed the instructions. More than 66% deliver the full 450 volts.

6. Explain the Stanford Prison Experiment. Include details about the experiment and the results of the study.

King (427) presents the Stanford Prison experiment in a demonstration of power of obedience as conducted by Philip Zombardo. The aim of the research is to illustrate the potentially horrific effects of obedience to those that obey and the ones wielding power. 24 participants were assigned roles, guard or prisoner, with the prisoners being arrested in their homes, booked as per the normal process, and fingerprinted at the police station and sent to prison. They would be strip-searched and issued uncomfortable uniforms and sent to designated cells (three per cell). The guards wore uniforms and mirrored glasses and wielded wooded batons. The glasses prevented eye contact with prisoners. The prisoner superintendent, the experimenter, gave instructions to the guards that they had all power over the prisoners and that the latter had none. The guards were told to take away the prisoner’s individuality and were to refer to the prisoners by their uniform identification numbers. The results were unexpected as the first 36 hours produced uncontrollable rage from prisoners and an uprising. Some guards attacked prisoners as they behaved in sadistic ways. Prisoners are harassed and humiliated. The study was terminated after 6 days due to participant safety. The study revealed that situational factors greatly affect human behaviour.

7. Explain the terms: deindividuation, social contagion, social facilitation, and social loafing. Include an example of each.

Deindividuation is when being a group member reduces personality identity, eroding the sense of personal responsibility for example behavior of an individual in a riot compared to when acting alone (King 428). Social contagion is imitative behavior that involves behavior spread, ideas, and emotions, for example, laughing loudly in a group setting because others are laughing (King 428). Social facilitation is the improvement of individual performance because of the presence of others, for example, better performance in a class presentation compared to individual practice attempts (King 428). Social loafing is the tendency of a person to exert less effort in a group setting because of the reduced accountability for individual effort for example, less participation in a class assignment done in a group (King 429).

8. What is the difference between prejudice and discrimination?

Prejudice is the unjustified negative attitude towards a person on the basis of their membership to a given group while discrimination the unjustified negative or harmful actions towards a person because they belong to a particular group (King 433).

Works Cited

King, Laura. Experience psychology. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2019.

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