Social Influence: Part One

social influence

In this next series of articles exploring the topic of social psychology we are going to gain a greater understanding of social influence. Specifically defining normative and informational influence, then explaining an experiment by Garfinkel (1967) on the transgression of social norms.

NORMATIVE INFLUENCE DEFINED AS…
  • Conform to the positive expectations of others to gain social approval or avoid social disapproval
  • For this to take effect:
    • We must think we are under surveillance of the group
    • Think the group has the power and ability to reward or punish
  • Tends to create ‘surface’ conformity in public.
INFORMATIONAL INFLUENCE DEFINED AS…
  • If we are unable to make our own objective tests
  • We follow the opinions or behaviour of other people because we believe that they have accurate knowledge and what they are doing is right
  • Their information is taken as evidence about reality
  • More likely to lead to changes in cognition and we assimilate their information as ours
  • Social comparison (1950)
TRANSGRESSION OF SOCIAL NORMS

Garfinkel (1967) created breaching experiments which were designed to violate social reality, in order to reveal something about the methods we use to construct social reality.

Behaviour within experiment:

Students behave as lodgers for 15 minutes and spoke formally, only when spoken to, polite etc.

Family reaction:

Shocked, embarrassed and in some case anger. Accused the student of being rude, selfish and nasty. This revealed an implicit norm of family interaction and the violation provoked a strong response.

Verbal:

  • How are you?
  • I’m good.
  • What do you mean good, morally good, or have you just stopped being bad?
  • Highlights an important feature of social norms

We tend to become aware of them when they are violated, not when we engage in them!

DUEL PROCESS DEPENDENCY
  • Both information and normative influences tend to play a part in most conformity (Hogg & Turner, 1987)
  • However, it ignores group dynamics
    • We are influenced by groups we feel we belong to, where their norms are taken as our own norms
  • So rather than explain social and group influences, it is actually an interpersonal model that can take place between individuals as well as groups
SOCIAL INFLUENCE MODALITY

Modality

Conformity

The majority persuades the minority (or deviates) to adopt the majority view

Normalisation

Compromise leading to convergence

Innovation

Minority creates and accentuates conflict to persuade the majority to adopt the minority viewpoint

Discover more articles of social psychology here.

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