Everyday, we interact with others and they with us. We give little little thought as to how we may have an impact on others and how others influence us. Social psychologists refer to this as "social influence", the exercise of social power by a person or group to change the attitudes or behavior of others in a particular direction. Social power is the force available to the influencer to motivate attitude or behavior change.
But before we go further in the discussion, we need to examine the various ways that we are influenced and how we influence others. Conformity is a change in behavior or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure. Compliance is the publicly acting in accordance with social pressure while privately disagreeing. Obedience, on the other hand is the performance of an action in response to a direct order from an authority figure. Acceptance is both acting and believing in accord with social pressure.
Obedience, as stated above is defined as the performance of an action in response to a direct order from an authority figure. One of the most powerful experiments performed investigating obedience was performed by Stanley Milgram (1965-1974). Because it is considered one of the most important experiments in the history of psychology, I am going to provide a detailed description of the procedures Milgram used.
Milgram was of Jewish descent. He fled from Nazi Germany during WWII and immigrated to America. This influenced the direction of Milgram's research because the orginal purpose of his research was to investigate the likelihood that individuals living in a democratic society would perform deviant acts in direct response to orders given by authority figure (Note: One of the defense arguments used by Nazi defendents was that they were "just following orders"). The deceptive purpose of the study ( what subjects were told) was that they were assisting in a pioneer study on the effects of punishment on learning.
Subjects in the first experiment were recruited from the community. Subjects were always given the role of teacher. The role of learner was played by a 47 year old accountant.
APPARATUS: "Shock Generator" with switches indicating voltage arranged in increments of 15 volts to 450 volts. Switches were given labels such as slight shock, very stong shock, danger and higher voltage had "XXX".
PROCEDURE: Each subject experienced the shock to provide them with an indication of what the learner experienced. The subject is told to move one level higher on the schock generator each time the learner responded incorrectely. Subjects were given a list of word pairs that the learner was to repeat after a short interval of time. Here's a layout of the shock levels used and the response of the learner at each level. NOTE: This was actually a ruse. Once the experiment began no shock was actually delivered to the learner!
Shock Level Learner's Response
75 volts Grunts
90 volts Grunts
105 volts Grunts
"Experimenter get me out
of here. I won't be in the
experiment anymore. I
refuse to go on".
Screams of agony
(Wants to get out)
Learner screams his
refusal to answer
330 volts Learner is silent.
If Teacher/Subject wanted to terminate the experiment, the experimenter informed him that he must treat the learner's non-response as an incorrect answer and to continue the shock.
The experimenter used four verbal prods:
1. "Please continue" or "please go on"
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you msut go on.
HOW FAR ON THE SHOCK METER DO YOU THINK THESE INDIVIDUALS WENT?
Of the tolal number of subjects (n=40) age 20 to 50 year, 25 subjects or 63% of subjects went to 450 volts.
PART II OF THE EXPERIMENT
In the second phase of the experiment, Milgram made learners/confederate's responses more compelling. Learner/confederate has "slight" heart condition but no permanent damage.
Additionally, the learner/confederate's statement at 330 volts becam "LET ME OUT OF HERE, MY HEART IS BOTHERING ME!!!!!! LET ME OUT!!!!
RESULTS: Results of the second phase was that 65% of subjects complited
at the 450 volts. Milgram also noted that subjects in both phases of the
experiment displayed what many would consider unusual behavior. They exhibited
sweating, trembling, stuttering, bit their lips, groaning, or broke into
Milgram investigated not only the extent to which individuals obey authority but also under what conditions.
Conditions that affect obedience:
1. Emotional Distance: Individuals with the least compassion were those teachers/subjects who could not see their learners/confederaes and could not be seen by them.
2. Closeness and legitimacy of authority; the physical presence of the experimenter affected obedience. Authority characteristics that affect obedience are; the authority must be perceived as legimate and when an auhority that was perceived to be of lower status (80%) of teacher/subjects refused to comply.
Milgram was a very through investigated. He moved his experiment from
Yale to Bridgeport Conn. to determine if affiliation with Yale University
influenced results. In Bridgeport, Milgram obtained similar results with
48% of subjects complying with authority orders. Milgram continued to experiment
using this approach. At one time he replaced the learner/confederate with
a tape recorder. You also should be aware that Milgram did not operationalize
compliance as just one or two shocks; in order to be included or counted
in the results, subjects had to adminster shock at the 330 volt level.
Out of all of the subjects who participated in this study (and there were
many over time) only one individual refused to shock the learner.
New topic: Attitudes
Any cognitive representation that summarizes our evaluations of an attitude object
ABCs of attitudes:
Affect: attitudes have an emotional element, a feeling associated with them.
Behavioral: attitudes have behaviors or actions associated with them. If you like sports, you probably attend sporting events or watch them on TV.
Cognitive: attitudes have thoughts associates with them, if you hate WalMart (like I do) you probably think that they run smaller family-owned buisness out of buisness.
How Attitudes Are Changed
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE (Festinger, 1957)
We strive to keep our attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors consistent with one another so if I hate WalMart I better not be shoping there on a regular basis. When behaviors are in conflict with stated attitudes we experience dissonance or a tension associated with the inconsistency between attitudes and behavior. This can lead to attitude change (but not always, for example there are many people who know smoking is dangerous to their health but continue to smoke). When is dissonance likely to cause attitude change?
When the inconsistencies are importantt or self-relevant.
Actions that jeopardize moral integrity or threaten a positive view of the self
When the person is motivated to reduce this negative feeling
When the person realizes that the behavior could have negative consequences
Attribution of Personal Responsibility: when the person freely engages in the behavior (is not cohersed).
How people use information to make judgments about the causes of behavior
Biases in Attribution
Situational Attribution: a person's behavior is due to external factors ("he's not a bad guy, he just did that because he has been under alot of pressure lately.")
Dispositional Attribution: a person's behavior is due to internal factors ("he did that because he's a jerk")
Fundamental Attribution Error: the tendency to ascribe our own behavior to situational factors while ascribing the actions of others to dispositional factors.