“Social Psychology’s great lesson is the enormous power of social influence. This influence can be seen in our conformity, our compliance, and our group behavior (Myers 680)”. Social influence relates to conformity and obedience, group influence, and ultimately, the power of individuals. “Social Psychologists explore these connections by scientifically studying how we think about, influence, and relate to one another (Myers 673)”. There are two kinds of social influence: Normative and Informational. These two influences are the reason why people adjust their behavior to coincide with a group standard.
Solomon Asch devised a simple test in order to study conformity. He put six people in a room with one thinking they were being studied on their visual perception. Each person took their turn answering the experimenter’s question: Which of the three comparison lines is identical to the standard line? After everyone answered, another set of lines was shown. The pattern continued until the first five people purposely give the wrong answer. The findings showed that more than one-third of the time, the sixth person conformed by going along with the group’s wrong answer. They were “willing to call white black”.
Sometimes people succumb to their situations. When we become aware that our attitudes and actions don’t match, we experience cognitive dissonance. In order to assess people’s attitudes before and after they adopt a new role, Philip Zimbardo designed an experiment. He took college students, randomly designated them as guards or prisoners, and
put them in a simulated prison. The prisoners were locked up in barren cells and forced to wear humiliating uniforms. The guards were given uniforms, billy clubs, and whistles and instructed to enforce certain rules. The findings showed that a toxic situation can trigger degrading behaviors due to the fact that, “After a day or two in which the volunteers self-consciously “played” their roles, the...
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