To calculate total reactance, reverse each of the individual scores on items 7, 11, 13, 14, 18, 21, 24, 25, and 28. That is, change 1 to 4, 2 to 3, 3 to 2, and 4 to 1. Now, add up the scores for all 28 items (remember to use the newly reversed scores for the 9 reverse items in your addition, not the original scores).

Create a study aid that you can use for review and self‐testing. The study sheet should be written as either a concept map

e.g., or as a Three‐Column table (add as many rows as you need):

Your study sheet must be thorough and cover all concepts in the text and Lesson Notes and must include the following information on the classic studies:
• Social Influences
• Resisting Social Pressure
• Researcher Study task for participants
• Social psychology concepts that this study identified
• Significance of study to social psychology (why is this considered a classic study?

6.0 Introduction:
“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
– Albert Camus
Sometimes when I am lecturing on social influence (conformity, obedience, and compliance) in class I put the theory to the test early on in the course. As the first several students walk into the room, I ask them to keep standing beside their chosen seat. Or, if I’m feeling particularly creative, I may ask them to sit down on the floor beside their seat. I’ve even asked students to lie down on the long tables. I then watch the rest of the class file in, and see what they do – do they sit down, as usual, or do they keep standing (or sit on the floor, or lie down, as the case may be). I find that many students typically follow the lead of the others. Then I usually ask the million million dollar question to the class, “Why did you obey my request?”, “What was going through your mind when I asked you to sit down on the floor?” and “Why did you do it without question?”. I also ask those who resisted (there’s always one) why they did so and how they felt doing it, and they usually admit that they were uncomfortable even though they were not doing anything unusual.
When you think of the word conformity, do you think of it as a positive or a negative thing? How about obedience? If I tell you that my children are obedient, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If a physician speaks of a patient who is compliant, what does mean to you? Since many of us bring our preconceived connotations to the terms presented in this lesson, let’s take a moment to consider the definitions presented in your text.
Conformity: “a change in behaviour or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 196).
Compliance: “conformity that involves publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 19). (N.B. This is more commonly known as public acceptance)
Acceptance: “conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure”(Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 197). (N.B. This is more commonly known as private acceptance)
Obedience: “acting in accord with a direct order” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 197)
Conformity:
Conformity is something that we all experience quite often throughout our lives. Sometimes we do it quite automatically and at other times we do it because we feel pressure to “fit it” with the crowd. As an example, you probably know of someone who went through high school pretending to be someone s/he was not just to fit in. Perhaps they dressed in a certain way or even acted differently in order to part of a particular “crowd”. When we feel uneasy or out of place in a situation some of us will do almost anything to try to belong.
Within the definition it is important to highlight that the change in behaviour or attitude is a result of either a real pressure or an imagined pressure from external sources. It certainly makes sense that the person standing in the front of the classroom asking you to move is a “real pressure”, however, imagined pressures also influence us to behave in certain ways. How do you act when you are in church? When you are with your friends at a bar? When in line at the theatre? Typically, it is not because of someone standing over your shoulder, but because of larger societal understandings and norms that we should be subdued at church, more casual at the bar, and patient when in line. And because breaking these social norms can have consequences. Sometimes the imagined social influence is even more subtle. As you compare conformity with compliance and obedience, remember that conformity is the only one in which there is no direct request or demand being made.
Important Note:
Even though compliance is defined in chapter 6, this chapter focuses mainly on conformity and obedience. As you have just seen in chapter 5, the term compliance also relates to persuasion, where it is considered a response to a direct request (whether or not the individual privately agreese or disagrees).
________________________________________
Take a Moment . . .
To think of the multitude of different fads that have swept the province or the nation from time to time (for a fun listing of fads across the decades, check out www.crazyfads.com/).
The urge to fit in can be a powerful, yet subtle, force. So, as your textbook suggests, conformity is not always good or bad. The social psychologist is more interested in the question of why people conform.
Before I finish this introduction, I want to make sure you understand a couple more definitions. The distinction below is important to highlight the fact that even though we may not agree that conforming is appropriate, in many cases we still end up doing it.
________________________________________
Learning Objectives:
When you finish this unit you should be able to do the following:
• Know and understand the findings of the classic conformity and obedience experiments.
• Identify the situations and factors that lead to conformity
• Identify what factors lead some people to conform more than others
• Understand what leads some people to resist social pressure.
6.0 Introduction:
“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
– Albert Camus
Sometimes when I am lecturing on social influence (conformity, obedience, and compliance) in class I put the theory to the test early on in the course. As the first several students walk into the room, I ask them to keep standing beside their chosen seat. Or, if I’m feeling particularly creative, I may ask them to sit down on the floor beside their seat. I’ve even asked students to lie down on the long tables. I then watch the rest of the class file in, and see what they do – do they sit down, as usual, or do they keep standing (or sit on the floor, or lie down, as the case may be). I find that many students typically follow the lead of the others. Then I usually ask the million million dollar question to the class, “Why did you obey my request?”, “What was going through your mind when I asked you to sit down on the floor?” and “Why did you do it without question?”. I also ask those who resisted (there’s always one) why they did so and how they felt doing it, and they usually admit that they were uncomfortable even though they were not doing anything unusual.
When you think of the word conformity, do you think of it as a positive or a negative thing? How about obedience? If I tell you that my children are obedient, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If a physician speaks of a patient who is compliant, what does mean to you? Since many of us bring our preconceived connotations to the terms presented in this lesson, let’s take a moment to consider the definitions presented in your text.
Conformity: “a change in behaviour or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 196).
Compliance: “conformity that involves publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 19). (N.B. This is more commonly known as public acceptance)
Acceptance: “conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure”(Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 197). (N.B. This is more commonly known as private acceptance)
Obedience: “acting in accord with a direct order” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 197)
Conformity:
Conformity is something that we all experience quite often throughout our lives. Sometimes we do it quite automatically and at other times we do it because we feel pressure to “fit it” with the crowd. As an example, you probably know of someone who went through high school pretending to be someone s/he was not just to fit in. Perhaps they dressed in a certain way or even acted differently in order to part of a particular “crowd”. When we feel uneasy or out of place in a situation some of us will do almost anything to try to belong.
Within the definition it is important to highlight that the change in behaviour or attitude is a result of either a real pressure or an imagined pressure from external sources. It certainly makes sense that the person standing in the front of the classroom asking you to move is a “real pressure”, however, imagined pressures also influence us to behave in certain ways. How do you act when you are in church? When you are with your friends at a bar? When in line at the theatre? Typically, it is not because of someone standing over your shoulder, but because of larger societal understandings and norms that we should be subdued at church, more casual at the bar, and patient when in line. And because breaking these social norms can have consequences. Sometimes the imagined social influence is even more subtle. As you compare conformity with compliance and obedience, remember that conformity is the only one in which there is no direct request or demand being made.
Important Note:
Even though compliance is defined in chapter 6, this chapter focuses mainly on conformity and obedience. As you have just seen in chapter 5, the term compliance also relates to persuasion, where it is considered a response to a direct request (whether or not the individual privately agreese or disagrees).
________________________________________
Take a Moment . . .
To think of the multitude of different fads that have swept the province or the nation from time to time (for a fun listing of fads across the decades, check out www.crazyfads.com/).
The urge to fit in can be a powerful, yet subtle, force. So, as your textbook suggests, conformity is not always good or bad. The social psychologist is more interested in the question of why people conform.
Before I finish this introduction, I want to make sure you understand a couple more definitions. The distinction below is important to highlight the fact that even though we may not agree that conforming is appropriate, in many cases we still end up doing it.
________________________________________
Learning Objectives:
When you finish this unit you should be able to do the following:
• Know and understand the findings of the classic conformity and obedience experiments.
• Identify the situations and factors that lead to conformity
• Identify what factors lead some people to conform more than others
• Understand what leads some people to resist social pressure.
6.1 Why Do People Conform?
Scenario A Imagine that you have just begun a new job as a research assistant for a large consulting company. In your second week of work, as you walk down the hall of your office building, the fire alarm goes off. What do you do? Do you follow emergency procedures and exit the building immediately? Or do you look around to see what everyone else is doing?
Scenario B Now imagine that you and your new colleagues are eating lunch in the cafeteria. You really like this group and they seem to like you too. Then, after only 15 minutes of eating, with their lunch only half eaten, they start packing up to go back to work. They say “Look at Sonia and Ali over there. Slackers! They take the whole 30 minutes to eat.” As your co-workers finish packing up they call over to Sonia and say “Hi Sonia. Must be nice to be able to take such a leisurely lunch.” You quickly look around – at most of the tables, people are still eating and chatting. You still have lots of food left on your plate, and you are still really hungry. What do you do? Do you stay and finish your lunch, or do you leave with your colleagues?
As these two scenarios illustrate, people conform for different reasons. There are 2 main reasons why people conform: informational social influence and normative social influence.
Informational Social Influence
“conformity that results from accepting evidence about reality provided by other people” (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p. 219).
In Scenario A (provided above), we find that people typically look around to others for information on how to behave. They want to know if they should leave the building or ignore the alarm. If no-one else flees the building, we carry on with what we’re doing rather than risk looking foolish and running out the building. For some reason, we assume others’ interpretation of an ambiguous situation must be more correct than our interpretation. It’s not that we feel any pressure to do what others are doing we just want to know what’s going on and behave “correctly”.
Informational influence is most powerful (i.e., most likely to lead to conformity) when:
a. the situation is ambiguous,
b. the situation is a crisis or requires immediate action, and
c. when the other people are experts.
In your text you will read about Sherif’s (1935, 1937) classic studies of norm formation (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2009, p. 183-186). In these studies, Sherif set up an ambiguous situation for the participants. While sitting in a darkened room, participants were asked to judge how far a tiny dot of light moved. In fact, the dot of light didn’t move at all – it just appeared to move (this is called the autokinetic phenomenon). Nonetheless, Sherif found that participants adjusted their responses over time so that they would be in line with their fellow participants. They had looked to one another as a source of information because they were unsure of the correct answer themselves.
When Informational Social Influence Goes Wrong: Suggestibility and Contagion
Using other people as a source of information is only a good idea if the other people give you good information. This isn’t always the case though. Often times, when people follow the behaviour of others who are actually misinformed, chaos results.
Among the most dramatic examples of suggestibility are cases of mass hysteria. Issues of suggestibility leading to mass hysteria have also been termed contagion, defined as the rapid transmission of emotion or behaviours through a crowd. Your text discusses the “Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic” (p. 199) as a good example of suggestibility.
A classic example of contagion was found on Hallowe’en night in 1938 when Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre broadcast a fictitious, but very realistic, radio play based on the H.G. Wells novel “War of the Worlds”. Welles presented the dramatization of the invasion of Earth by hostile Martians that, for the most part, sounded like a live newscast. The result was mass hysteria and contagion. Keep in mind that this was the era before television. Radio was a source of entertainment but was also the only source of late-breaking news. It is understandable that many Americans mistook this drama for real news if they had tuned into the program part way through.
The War of the Worlds broadcast contained all three factors that make information social influence most powerful. The situation was clearly ambiguous because people were uncertain about what to do while listening to this event unfold on the radio. When you are unsure of the appropriate response or behaviour you will be most open to influence from others. Naturally, people turned to others to see what they were doing. Were other people calm and collected or scared and panicked? If they were panicked, then it provided “information” about how to think and behave. The situation also appeared to be a crisis. In a crisis, there is little time to think. Again, given little time to absorb what is happening, and needing to act quickly, it is natural for us to use those people around us as information guides to our own behaviour. The only problem is that the other individuals we end up imitating are no more experts than we are.
And what about experts? Typically, the more expertise an individual possesses the more valuable we believe that person is as a guide when the situation is ambiguous or a crisis. While hearing the radio broadcast of a Martian invasion, many people phoned their local police stations to get answers. Unfortunately, the local police also thought the broadcast was real, further enhancing the panic and the contagion!
Of course, you may be reading about this radio broadcast thinking that this happened way back in 1938! We have come along way since then and we most certainly are not that gullible or suggestible anymore … are we? Well, not too long ago, we actually faced a very serious situation of our own that contains many of the same factors. I’m talking about the dawn of the 21st century … the new millennium … and the Y2K bug.
An important feature of informational social influence is that it can lead to private acceptance (i.e., conforming to other people’s behaviour out of a genuine belief that what they are doing or saying is right) or public acceptance (conforming to other people’s behaviour publicly, without necessarily believing in what they are doing, or saying). (Note that in your text, public acceptance is referred to as compliance.)
Normative Social Influence
In Scenario B (provided above), it’s not that we don’t know what to do, we just don’t want to be ridiculed by our group members for behaving differently. This is especially likely to occur if we witness someone else being ridiculed – we don’t want to go through that, so we are more likely to conform than if we hadn’t seen the person being ridiculed.
People conform because they do not want to risk rejection or disapproval. People generally feel the need to belong. It’s not surprising that we would conform to the norms of a group when the group is important to us – we want the group members to like and accept us. But what about when we are in a group that is not important to us – do we still conform then? To answer this question we can look at the classic line matching studies of conformity conducted by Solomon Asch (1951).
Unlike Sherif, Asch’s presented a very unambiguous task for the participants where the correct answer was very obvious. While participants were able to perform the task accurately when alone, they knowingly provided incorrect answers when in the presence of confederates. Even though the correct answer was obvious, 76% of participants conformed at least 1 time out of 12, and conformity occurred on 37% of all critical trials overall.
When I read the Asch study results, I try to imagine myself as one of the participants. At some point along the way, I might want to try giving what I know to be the wrong answer just once, just to see what would happen. What would you do?
As Asch’s classic study (1951) demonstrates, normative social influence is effective even when the group is composed of complete strangers who we’ll never see again.
6.2 Who Conforms
Children and adolescents are notoriously high conformists (don’t want to be seen as different) whereas older people (seniors for example) are not. People who have lived longer have more life experiences, and this makes them a more heterogeneous group of people; they don’t feel they NEED to go along.
Two personality variables, self-esteem and gender, have been investigated in relation to normative conformity. There is some evidence that people with low self-esteem are more likely to conform, and that women are more likely to conform than men. However, the magnitude of the relationship is small and controversial. The main point that we should remember from the classic studies is that the situation is powerful, regardless of who is in it.
As we saw in lesson 5, your culture affects many aspects of your life. Although conformity exists in some form in all cultures, it varies greatly between them. Bon and Smith (1996) used meta-analysis to investigate conformity across cultures.
Meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows the combining of the results of significance tests from a number of related studies so that you can draw inferences about an area of research from the results of many individual studies. Bon and Smith (1996) examined the findings of 133 studies that replicated Asch’s line study. These experiments were initially conducted in 17 different countries around the world. It was found that individuals in collectivist cultures (such as Japan) were more likely to conform that people from individualistic cultures (such as Canada or the USA). This is not surprising considering the fact that collectivist cultures tend to value co-operation and interdependence, while individualistic cultures value independence and individual success.
6.3 When Do People Conform?
We do not conform in all situations. The question arises, when are people most likely to conform to normative pressures? For normative social influence group size does matter. The larger the group, the stronger the pressure to conform.
For informational social influence size does not matter. Once the first member of the group has given a response it adds very little information for 2, 3 or more persons to give the same response. Even with normative social influence, Asch’s (1955) research shows that conformity does not increase much after group size reaches 4 or 5 other people.
Your text outlines other factors that influence when a group conforms (i.e., unanimity, cohesion, status, public response, no prior commitment).
6.4 Obedience
Milgram’s classic study of obedience (1965, 1974) is actually several trials wherein Milgram varied one aspect or another of how the study was conducted. Milgram’s study is so important because it showed that it isn’t just sadistic people who are capable of committing inhuman acts toward others, it could be anyone, regardless of personality, because the social situation is such a powerful influence. This is the main contribution that Milgram’s studies made to our understanding of human nature.
In the basic study, about 65% of participants went all the way to the maximum shock level (no difference for males and females). These results were shocking (no pun intended) at the time especially because prior to the study, Milgram asked a group of psychologists to estimate what they thought the rate of obedience would be, and they estimated that only 0.1% of the participants would go to the maximum shock level.
Milgram’s study showed 5 Factors affecting obedience. Note that these results are measured as obedience to the maximum level of shock:
• Institutional prestige (when the study was located at an office building that was not on the prestigious Yale campus obedience dropped to 48%)
• Proximity of authority figure (when the experimenter left the room, or another participant was in charge, obedience to the maximum level of shock was below 20%)
• Proximity of the victim (when the victim was in same room, where the subjects could see and hear him, obedience dropped to 40%. When subjects needed to force the victim’s arm onto the electric plate, 30% obeyed)
• Legitimacy of authority figure (legitimate the authority figures were associated with higher conformity)
• Models of disobedience (when in the presence of other subjects who rebelled against the authority figure, obedience dropped to 10%)
These various trials demonstrate that by manipulating the situation, you can increase or decrease obedience.
6.5 Resisting Social Pressure
You may be wondering, “If the pressure to conform is so strong, how does anyone ever resist it?” The majority of the chapter does focus on conforming but the last section describes the reasons why some people are able to resist conformity’s pressure.
Idiosyncrasy credits
If we conform to a group’s norms most of the time, we earn idiosyncrasy credits. In other words, the group will allow us to deviate occasionally (i.e., behave idiosyncratically) without serious consequences, because most of the time, we go along with them. For example, if I usually go along with the books that my book club chooses, and then one month I tell them I don’t want to read the book they’ve chosen, they’ll still accept me as a member of our book club. But if I rejected their book choices every month, then I would not have built up idiosyncrasy credits with the group, and they would not tolerate my occasional departure from the group’s choices. They wouldn’t consider me to be a member of that club.
A major reason why some people avoid conforming is their desire to be an individual. Individuation is defined as emphasizing one’s own uniqueness in order to stand out from the crowd. Most people do not mind conforming most of the time but still like to think of themselves as individuals. Many of you have probably bought a shirt or pair of shoes that you simply loved only to wear them out the next day and find that ten other people have the exact same ones. Some people are able to shrug this off, and others even like the idea of being “just like everyone else”, but many of you would probably love that shirt or pair of shoes a little less and may even be less likely to wear them. This comes from your desire to be seen as an individual.

Learning Activity
Synder and Fromkin (1977; 1980) developed the Need for Uniqueness Scale (below). Give it a try!
NEED FOR UNIQUENESS SCALE
Direction: The following statements concern your perceptions about yourself in a variety of situations. Your task is to indicate the strength of your agreement with each statement, utilizing a scale in which 1 denotes strong disagreement, 5 denotes strong agreement, and 2, 3, and 4 represent intermediate judgments. In the blank space preceding each statement, place a number from 1 to 5 from the following scale:
1 2 3 4 5
Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
1 2 3 4 5

1. When I am in a group of strangers, I am not reluctant to express my opinion openly.
1 2 3 4 5

2. I find that criticism affects my self-esteem.
1 2 3 4 5

3. I sometimes hesitate to use my own ideas for fear they may be impractical.
1 2 3 4 5

4. I think society should let reason lead it to new customs and throw aside old habits or mere traditions.
1 2 3 4 5

5. People frequently succeed in changing my mind.
1 2 3 4 5

6. I find it sometimes amusing to upset the dignity of teachers, judges, and “cultured” people.
1 2 3 4 5

7. I like wearing a uniform because it makes me proud to be a member of the organization it represents.
1 2 3 4 5

8. People have sometimes called me “stuck-up”.
1 2 3 4 5

9. Others’ disagreements make me uncomfortable.
1 2 3 4 5

10. I do not always need to live by the rules and standards of society.
1 2 3 4 5

11. I am unable to express my feelings if they result in undesirable consequences.
1 2 3 4 5

12. Being a success in one’s career means making a contribution that no one else has made.
1 2 3 4 5

13. It bothers me if people think I am being too unconventional.
1 2 3 4 5

14. I always try to follow rules.
1 2 3 4 5

15. If I disagree with a superior on his/her views, I usually do not keep it to myself.
1 2 3 4 5

16. I speak up in meetings in order to oppose those whom I feel are wrong.
1 2 3 4 5

17. Feeling “different” in a crowd of people makes me feel uncomfortable.
1 2 3 4 5

18. If I must die, let it be an unusual death rather than an ordinary death in bed.
1 2 3 4 5

19. I would rather be just like everyone else than be called a “freak”.
1 2 3 4 5

20. I must admit I find it hard to work under strict rules and regulations.
1 2 3 4 5

21. I would rather be known for always trying new ideas than for employing well-trusted methods.
1 2 3 4 5

22. It is better to agree with the opinions of others than to be considered a disagreeable person.
1 2 3 4 5

23. I do not like to say unusual things to people.
1 2 3 4 5

24. I tend to express my opinion publicly, regardless of what others say.
1 2 3 4 5

25. As a rule, I strongly defend my own opinions.
1 2 3 4 5

26. I do not like to go my own way.
1 2 3 4 5

27. When I am with a group of people, I agree with their ideas so that no arguments will arise.
1 2 3 4 5

28. It is very important for me to get along well with the people I work with.
1 2 3 4 5

29. I have been quite independent and free from family rule.
1 2 3 4 5

30. Whenever I take part in group activities, I am somewhat of a nonconformist.
1 2 3 4 5

31. In most things in life, I believe in playing it safe rather than taking a gamble.
1 2 3 4 5

32. It is better to break rules than always to conform with an impersonal society.
To calculate the total Need for Uniqueness Scale score, reverse each of the individual scores on items 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 17, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 31. That is, a score of 1 changes to 5, 2 to 4, 3 stays as 3, 4 to 2, and 5 to 1. Now, add the scores for all 32 items. The higher the score, the higher the need for uniqueness as measured by this scale. Remember that this scale was developed to measure not how different one actually may be but rather the magnitude of a person’s desire or need to be unique. Synder and Fromkin (1980) report that among 1404 students a score of 100 was at the 50th percentile (i.e., an average, not very unique, need for uniqueness!)
RAW SCORE PERCENTILE
70 2
80 10
90 26
100 50
110 74
120 90
130 98
________________________________________
Another factor your text mentions in its discussion of resisting social pressure is the theory of Reactance – a motive to protect or restore one’s sense of freedom (Myers, Spencer, & Jordan, 2012, p.226). The classic example of reactance is a young teenager who has difficulty getting along with his or her parents. Teenagers may fight about rules that they see as unfair and may rebel against curfews or punishments that are a threat to their freedom. Sneaking out of the house after curfew is something that many of us have done and probably did in response to a freedom limiting punishment! Freedom is highly valued in western society and we are taught from an early age that we should keep our freedom at all costs. Given these values it is no wonder reactance is a powerful weapon to fight conformity.
Dowd, Milne, and Wise (1991) developed the Therapeutic Reactance Scale to measure individual differences in reactance potential, or in the tendency to be oppositional. Want to give it a try?
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTANCE SCALE
Respond to the statements below using the following scale:
1 2 3 4
Strongly disagree Disagree Agree Strongly agree
1 2 3 4

1. If I receive a lukewarm dish at a restaurant, I make an attempt to let that be known.
1 2 3 4

2. I resent authority figures who try to tell me what to do.
1 2 3 4

3. I find that I often have to question authority.
1 2 3 4

4. I enjoy seeing someone else doing something that neither of us is supposed to.
1 2 3 4

5. I have a strong sense to maintain my personal freedom.
1 2 3 4

6. I enjoy playing “devil’s advocate” whenever I can.
1 2 3 4

7. In discussions, I am easily persuaded by others.
1 2 3 4

8. Nothing turns me on as much as a good argument.
1 2 3 4

9. It would be better to have more freedom to do what I want on a job.
1 2 3 4

10. If I am told what to do, I often do the opposite.
1 2 3 4

11. I am sometimes afraid to disagree with others.
1 2 3 4

12. It really bothers me when police officers tell people what to do.
1 2 3 4

13. It does not upset me to change my plans because someone in the group wants to do something else.
1 2 3 4

14. I don’t mind other people telling me what to do.
1 2 3 4

15. I enjoy debates with other people.
1 2 3 4

16. If someone asks a favour of me, I will think twice about what this person is really after.
1 2 3 4

17. I am not very tolerant of others’ attempts to persuade me.
1 2 3 4

18. I often follow the suggestions of others.
1 2 3 4

19. I am relatively opinionated.
1 2 3 4

20. It is important to me to be in a powerful position relative to others.
1 2 3 4

21. I am very open to solutions to my problems from others.
1 2 3 4

22. I enjoy “showing up” people who think they are right.
1 2 3 4

23. I consider myself more competitive than cooperative.
1 2 3 4

24. I don’t mind doing something for someone even when I don’t know why I’m doing it.
1 2 3 4

25. I usually go along with others’ advice.
1 2 3 4

26. I feel it is better to stand up for what I believe than to be silent.
1 2 3 4

27. I am very stubborn and set in my ways.
1 2 3 4

28. It is very important for me to get along well with the people I work with.
To calculate total reactance, reverse each of the individual scores on items 7, 11, 13, 14, 18, 21, 24, 25, and 28. That is, change 1 to 4, 2 to 3, 3 to 2, and 4 to 1. Now, add up the scores for all 28 items (remember to use the newly reversed scores for the 9 reverse items in your addition, not the original scores). The higher the score, the greater the tendency to be oppositional. For 150 introductory psychology students the mean was 68.86, and the range was 50 to 87 (Dowd, Milne, & Wise, 1991).
________________________________________
Learning Activity
Practice Quiz:
Now that you have completed reading the chapter on Conformity why not see how much you have learned?
Visit their website to take a short quiz on the topic of conformity! (Note: This quiz is purely for your own benefit. Although it will provide you with feedback, your mark will not affect your grade in this course!)
6.6 Personal Study:
Read chapter 6. Conformity can be destructive, such as when a military unit kills unarmed civilians. Conformity can be constructive, such as when people hurriedly follow each other out of a burning building. Nonconformity can be constructive, such as when a business executive blows the whistle on his corporation’s unethical business practices.
Nonconformity can be destructive, such as when an antiwar protester decides that violence is the only way to get across his message. Again, I’ll reiterate that conformity is neither good nor bad in and of itself. It depends a great deal on the context and our values. Take a couple minutes here and think of one more example of each of the ways in which conformity and nonconfomity can be constructive and destructive.
Here are a few issues that I will highlight for you regarding Chapter 6 on conformity:
• The classic studies that were done in the area of conformity are both amazing and disturbing in their implications. They give us an incredible amount of insight into our own willingness to conform at inappropriate times and what it takes to resist. The three classic studies (the studies conducted by Sherif Asch and Milgram) point out the power of the social situation.
• Milgram’s obedience experiments are probably one of the most classic and infamous sets of studies you will read about in social psychology. When following one rule (e.g., following the directions of an expert) means breaking another (e.g., hurting another human being), how are we to know which rule to follow? Martin Safer (1980) suggests that students who read about Milgram’s obedience experiments often mistakenly conclude that people are evil and would harm a stranger if given the opportunity. Attributing cruelty to the internal (evil) disposition of the participant misses the whole point of the experiment – which is that the situational factors, not the individual character, determines behaviour in the obedience paradigm. Actually, those who readily suggest that people are evil have made the fundamental attribution error (check back to chapter 3 for a refresher).
• There are a number of factors that you need to pay attention to when reading and thinking about when people conform. The text focuses on group size, unanimity, cohesion, status, public response, and prior commitment. Make sure you understand how each of these factors affects the likelihood that an individual will conform.
• The chapter winds up by discussing (1) who conforms, highlighting some personality and cultural differences and (2) how people resist social pressure, discussing the theory of reactance and our need to feel as though we are unique (but not too unique!).
Sample Questions
1. Milgram’s studies of obedience are considered to be classic studies in social psychology. What was the most significant contribution Milgram’s studies made to our understanding of human nature?
2. This Lesson describes five factors that breed (influence) opbedience. Identify three of these factors and describe how they were shown in Milgram’s studies of obedience.
3. How did ambiguity (or the lack of ambiguity) influence the participants in Asch’s study and Sherif`s study.