Social Psychology: Obedience to authority

Obedience to authority

-  65% of the subjects administered the full range of shocks

-  Situation affected obedience

-  Rates ranged from 0 to 93%

-  Situations increasing obedience

-  Person giving orders was close at hand
-  Person giving orders perceived to be a legitimate authority figure
-  Authority figure was supported by a prestigious institution
-  Victim was depersonalized or at a distance
-  No role models for defiance

-  Controversy

-  Critics argued that it wouldn't generalize to real world

-  Evidence demonstrates otherwise
-  Consistently replicated

-  Critics questioned the ethics of the experiment

-  Ss exposed to severe deception
-  Could undermine their trust in people
-  Severe stress could leave emotional scars

-  Supporters claim this is a small price to pay for the insights that came out of the studies

-  Cultural variations

-  Experiment repeated in many different societies

-  Results similar to those seen in the US.

-  Replications limited to industrialized nations similar to US

-  Obedience higher in many of these societies

Behavior traps

-  The situation in which we find ourselves exerts extremely strong effects on our behavior

Behavior traps: Situations that coerce us into engaging in self-defeating behaviors

-  Wander into the situation unaware of dangers

-  Once you realize the danger you can't find an easy way out of the situation

-  Escalation of conflict

-  Experimental situation

-  Dollar auction

-  Real-world examples

-  Cold War
-  Arguments

-  Prisoner's dilemma

Prisoner's dilemma: A situation in which people must choose between a cooperative act and an act that could benefit only themselves while hurting others.

-  Resolution

-  Discuss strategy and agree not to confess
-  Separation adds element of uncertainty
-  Constant communication essential for cooperation

-  Commons dilemma

-  Another situation in which people hurt others and eventually themselves by considering only their own short term interests

Commons dilemma: People who share a common resource tend to overuse it and therefore make it unavailable in the long run

-  Parable

-  Experimental simulation

-  College students with a bowl of peanuts  Can take as many as they want as often as they want
-  Every 10 seconds the number of nuts remaining in the bowl doubles
-  Object of game is to collect as many nuts as possible
-  Best solution
-  Cooperation
-  Actual performance
-  Run on the nuts in the first few seconds

Power of the group

-  Ambiguous situations

-  Usually take our cues from what other people are doing

-  Influence of others

-  Provide us with information (or misinformation)

-  Set norms

-  Conformity

-  Behaviors are contagious

Conformity: Maintaining or matching ones behavior to match the behavior of others is known as conformity

-  Pressure to conform

-  Especially strong in ambiguous situations in which it is difficult for people to be sure of their own judgment

-  Asch and social conformity

-  Examined how strong the effects of group consensus were on a person's tendency to conform

-  Paradigm

-  Asked students to look at a vertical bar
-  Showed them three other vertical bars and their job was to choose the bar that was the same length as the model
-  18 trials
-  Confederates instructed to give wrong answers on 12 of 18 trials

-  Results

-  Average subject conformed on 4 of the 12 trials when in the group
-  Almost never provided incorrect answer when alone

-  Explanations given by subjects for conformity


-  Strengthening conformity

-  Lack of competence or insecure

-  Group size

-  Degree of agreement in group

-  Feelings about group

-  Observation of responses

-  Culture

-  Reasons for conformity

-  Normative social influence

-  Sensitive to social norms
-  Conform to avoid rejection
-  Conform to gain social approval

-  Informational social influence

-  Groups may provide valuable information
-  When we accept other's information about reality we are responding to informational social influence
-  Conformity increases when being right matters

Bystander apathy

-  Kitty Genovese murder

-  Diffusion of responsibility

Diffusion of responsibility: The tendency for people to feel less responsibility for helping when other people are around than when they know no one is around besides themselves to help

-  Latane and Darley (1969)

-  Results (Hint: write overall results here)


-  Pluralistic ignorance

Pluralistic ignorance: A situation where people say nothing and each person falsely assumes that everyone else has a different, perhaps better informed opinion

-  Overall lack of action in a situation provides information or misinformation about appropriate action

-  Decision tree for helping behavior



Social Loafing

Social loafing: The tendency to “loaf” or work less hard when sharing work with other people

-  Reasons

-  Less accountability

-  Worry less about what others think

-  May view their contribution as dispensable

-  Elimination of social loafing



Deindividuation: Abandoning normal restraints to the power of the group

-  Causes

-  Arousal

-  Diminished sense of responsibility

-  Anonymity

-  Become less self-conscious and less restrained in a group situation

Liking and Loving

Predictors of Attraction

- Proximity

Proximity: geographic nearness

- Most powerful predictor of friendship

Mere exposure effect: the more often we are exposed to novel stimuli, the more we like it

- Used to explain the influence of proximity on attraction

- Moreland & Beach (1992)

– 4 equally attractive women
- Attended 0, 5, 10 or 15 class sessions
- Rated for attractiveness
- Those attending the most times were rated as the most attractive

- Similarity

- The greater the similarities between two friends – the longer their friendship tends to endure

- Evidence exists that similarity causes attraction

- Research on attitude similarity

- As attitude similarity increases, subject's ratings of likability of the stranger increases

- Physical Attractiveness

- Very strong predictor of attraction

- Research

- Randomly matching of freshmen at freshman dance
- Before the dance, all the subjects took a battery of personality and aptitude tests
- Attraction to partners almost entirely determined by physical attractiveness of partners

- Wide ranging effects of attractiveness

- Predicts a variety of qualities about a person
- Predicts perceptions of attractive people
- Not related to self-esteem and happiness

- Differences in standards of beauty

- Between cultures
- Across time

- Cultural similarities in standards of beauty: Men

- Youthful appearance
- Hip to waist ratio

- Cultural similarities in standards of beauty: Women

- Each sex tends to advertise the qualities that maximize its odds of attracting desirable partners

Romantic Love

- Two Types

- Passionate love

- Involves a complete absorption in another person

- Companionate love

- Warm, trusting, tolerant, affection

- Arousal and Passionate Love

- Schacter and Singer theory of emotion

- Applied to experience of passionate love

- Passionate love

- Person feels physically aroused
- Person interprets arousal as love and desire

- Experiment

- 2 bridges
- Question subjects on bridges
- Scary bridge
- More likely to write stories containing a relatively high level of sexual imagery
- More likely to call the female research assistant at home

- Triangular theory of love

- Sternberg

- Love has three basic components

- Intimacy
- Feelings that promote closeness, and connection
- Passion
- The intense desire for union with another person
- Commitment
- The decision to maintain a relationship over the long term

- Different combinations of these three components lead to different types of love



- Progression of love

- Passionate love may change to companionate love

- Similarities determine whether love develops to companionate love

- Adaptive