Social influence and conformity

In this week’s lesson we will discuss social influence and conformity. However, before we get started, here is a quick reminder that you should watch the movie you selected during week 3 for the final project. A one paragraph plot summary will be due this week.

Review the PowerPoint slides on Social Influence and Conformity located in the announcements (Week 5: Slides)

In a small group or individually make a list of norms we follow today that the previous generation did not. For example, most people recycle today (this is the norm) whereas previous generations did not.

Watch these 3 videos detailing famous conformity experiments:

Philip Zimbardo Ted Talk “The Psychology of Evil”

Play Video

Play Video
As you watch these videos, decide what your reaction would be.

On-ground students – complete the form your instructor will give you in class. Be prepared for an in-class discussion on the form.

Online students – read the following scenario and reflect personally on how you would react. Feel free to share the scenario with a friend, family member, or colleague to see what they think their reaction would be too!

Online students’ scenario to read:

“Imagine yourself in the following situation: You sign up for a psychology experiment, and on a specified date you and seven others whom you think are also participants arrive and are seated at a table in a small room.

You don’t know it at the time, but the others are actually associates of the experimenter, and their behavior has been carefully scripted. You’re the only real participant.

The experimenter arrives and tells you that the study in which you are about to participate concerns people’s visual judgments. She places two cards before you. The card on the left contains one vertical line. The card on the right displays three lines of varying length.

The experimenter asks all of you, one at a time, to choose which of the three lines on the right card matches the length of the line on the left card. The task is repeated several times with different cards.

On some occasions, the other “participants” unanimously choose the wrong line. It is clear to you that they are wrong, but they have all given the same answer.”

Online students – what would you do? If your instructor holds an Adobe Connect session this week, this might be something interesting to talk about with him or her!

1. In a 250-300 word essay, detail Asch, Milgram, or Zimbardo’s experiment. Do you think you would have behaved any differently than the other test subjects? Why or why not? This part of the assignment is worth 90 points.

2. On a separate Word document type a one paragraph plot summary for the film you chose to watch for the final project. This part of the assignment is worth 10 points.

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