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advocate of a particular point of view.

Gender and Conformity
Besides investigating situational forces that affect conformity, social psychologists have
investigated how individual characteristics affect conformity. Early research suggested
that women were more likely to conform than men (Eagly & Carli, 1981). For example,
43% of the studies published before 1970 reported this phenomenon, in contrast to
only 21% published after 1970. Did changes in the cultural climate make women less
likely to conform? Or did early conformity studies have a male bias, as expressed in
male-oriented tasks and a predominantly male environment? Research indicates that
the nature of the task was not important in producing the observed gender differences,
but the gender of the experimenter was. Generally, larger gender differences are found
when a man runs the conformity experiment. No gender differences are found when a
woman runs the experiment (Eagly & Carli, 1981).
An analysis of the research also shows that there are conditions under which women
are more likely to conform than men and others under which men are more likely to
conform than women (Eagly & Chrvala, 1986). For example, women are more likely to
conform than men in group pressure situations”that is, under conditions of normative
social in¬‚uence”than in persuasion situations, where informational social in¬‚uence
is being applied (Eagly, 1978; Eagly & Carli, 1981).
Two explanations have been proposed for gender differences in conformity (Eagly,
1987). First, gender may serve as a status variable in newly formed groups. Traditionally,
the female gender role is seen as weaker than the male role. In everyday life, males are
more likely to hold positions of high status and power than women. Men are more likely
to be in the position of “in¬‚uencer” and women in the position of “in¬‚uencee.” The
Chapter 7 Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience 243

lower status of the female role may contribute to a greater predisposition to conform
on the part of women, especially in group pressure situations. Second, women tend
to be more sensitive than men to conformity pressures when their behavior is under
surveillance”that is, when they have to state their opinions publicly (Eagly, Wood, &
Fishbaugh, 1981). When women must make their opinions public, they are more likely
than men to conform. In the Asch paradigm, participants were required to state their
opinions publicly; this favors women conforming more than men.

Historical and Cultural Differences in Conformity
Asch conducted his classic experiment on conformity during the 1950s in the United
States. The sociocultural climate that existed at the time favored conformity. The country
was still under the in¬‚uence of “McCarthyism,” which questioned individuals who did
not conform to “normal” American ideals. This climate may have contributed in signi¬-
cant ways to the levels of conformity Asch observed (Larsen, 1982; Perrin & Spencer,
1981). Researchers working in England failed to obtain conformity effects as strong
as those Asch had obtained (Perrin & Spencer, 1981). This raised a question: Were the
Asch ¬ndings limited to a particular time and culture?
Unfortunately, this question has no simple answer. Evidence suggests that within
the United States, rates of conformity vary with the sociopolitical climate (Larsen, 1974,
1982). The conformity rate in the early 1970s was 62.5% (that is, 62.5% of participants
conformed at least once in an Asch-type experiment) compared to a rate of 78.9% during
the early 1980s (Larsen, 1982). Compare this to Aschʼs (1956) rate of 76.5%. Results
like these suggest that conformity rates may be tied to the cultural climate in force at
the time of a study.
The evidence for cross-cultural in¬‚uences is less clear. A host of studies suggest
that conformity is a fairly general phenomenon across cultures. Conformity has been
demonstrated in European countries such as Belgium, Holland, and Norway (Doms
& Van Avermaet, 1980; Milgram, 1961; Vlaander & van Rooijen, 1985) as well as
in non-Western countries such as Japan, China, and some South American countries
(Huang & Harris, 1973; Matsuda, 1985; Sistrunk & Clement, 1970). Additionally, some
research suggests that there may be cross-cultural differences in conformity when North
Americans are compared to non“North Americans (see Furnham, 1984, for a review)
and across other non“North American cultures (Milgram, 1961). Differences in con-
formity in Asian cultures (Korean versus Japanese) have also been found (Park, Killen,
Crystal, & Wanatabe, 2003).
What is the bottom line? It is safe to say that the Asch conformity effect is fairly
general across cultures. However, some cultural groups may conform at different levels
than others. It also seems evident that cultural groups should not be seen as being
uniform in conformity. Conformity also appears to ¬‚uctuate in size across time within
a culture.


Minority In¬‚uence
In the classic ¬lm Twelve Angry Men, Henry Fonda portrayed a juror who was ¬rmly
convinced that a criminal defendant was not guilty. The only problem was that the other
11 jurors believed the defendant was guilty. As the jurors began to deliberate, Fonda
held fast to his belief in the defendantʼs innocence. As the ¬lm progressed, Fonda con-
vinced each of the other 11 jurors that the defendant was innocent. The jury ¬nally
returned a verdict of not guilty.
Social Psychology
244

In this ¬ctional portrayal of a group at work, a single unwavering individual not
only was able to resist conformity pressure but also convinced the majority that they
were wrong. Such an occurrence would be extremely rare in a real trial (Kalven &
Zeisel, 1966). With an 11 to 1 split, the jury would almost always go in the direction
of the majority (Isenberg, 1986; Kalven & Zeisel, 1966). The ¬lm, however, does
raise an interesting question: Can a steadfast minority bring about change in the
majority? For almost 35 years after Sherifʼs original experiments on norm formation,
this question went unanswered. It was not until 1969 that social psychologists began
to investigate the in¬‚uence of the minority on the majority. This line of investiga-
tion has been pursued more by European social psychologists than American social
psychologists.

Can a Minority In¬‚uence the Majority?
In the ¬rst published experiment on minority in¬‚uence, researchers devised an Asch-
like conformity situation. Participants were led to believe that they were taking part in
a study on color perception (Moscovici, Lage, & Naffrechoux, 1969). Participants were
shown a series of slides and asked to say the color of the slide aloud. Unbeknownst to
the real participants (four, making up the majority), two confederates (comprising the
minority) had been instructed to make an error on certain trials”by calling a blue slide
green, for example. Researchers found that 8.42% of the judgments made by the real
participants were in the direction of the minority, compared to only .025% of the judg-
ments in a control condition in which there was no incorrect minority. In fact, 32% of
the participants conformed to the incorrect minority. Thus, a minority can have a sur-
prisingly powerful effect on the majority.
In this experiment, the minority participants were consistent in their judgments.
Researchers theorized that consistency of behavior is a strong determinant of the social
in¬‚uence a minority can exert on a majority (Moscovici et al., 1969). An individual
in a minority who expresses a deviant opinion consistently may be seen as having a
high degree of con¬dence in his or her judgments. In the color perception experiment,
majority participants rated minority members as more con¬dent in their judgments than
themselves. The consistent minority caused the majority to call into question the valid-
ity of their own judgments.
What is it about consistency that contributes to the power of a minority to in¬‚uence
a majority? Differing perceptions and attributions made about consistent and inconsistent
minorities are important factors. A consistent minority is usually perceived as being more
con¬dent and less willing to compromise than an inconsistent minority (Wolf, 1979). A
consistent minority may also be perceived as having high levels of competence, espe-
cially if it is a relatively large minority (Nemeth, 1986). Generally, we assume that if a
number of people share a point of view, it must be correct. As the size of the minority
increases, so does perceived competence (Nemeth, 1986).
Although research shows that consistency increases the power of a minority to
in¬‚uence a majority, consistency must be carefully de¬ned. Will a minority that adopts
a particular view and remains intransigent be as persuasive as one that is more ¬‚exible?
Two styles of consistency have been distinguished: rigid and negotiating (Mugny, 1975).
In the rigid style, the minority advocates a position that is counter to the norm adopted
by the majority but is unwilling to show ¬‚exibility. In the negotiating style, the minority,
although remaining consistent, shows a willingness to be ¬‚exible. Each of these styles
contributes to the minorityʼs image in the eyes of the majority (Mugny, 1975). The rigid
Chapter 7 Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience 245

minority is perceived in a less positive way than a negotiating minority, perhaps leading
to perceptions that the rigid minorityʼs goal is to block the majority. Conversely, the
negotiating minority may be perceived as having compromise as its goal.
Generally, research suggests that a more ¬‚exible minority has more power to in¬‚u-
ence the majority than a rigid one, as long as the perception of minority consistency
remains (Mugny, 1975; Nemeth, Swedlund, & Kanki, 1974). The perception of the
minority is also partially dependent on the degree to which it is willing to modify its
position in response to new information. A minority that adapts to new information
is more in¬‚uential than a minority that holds a position irrespective of any additional
information (Nemeth et al., 1974).
A minority also has more power to in¬‚uence the majority when the majority knows
that people have switched to the minority viewpoint. The effect, however, leveled off
after three defections from the minority (Clark, 1999). Clark concluded that minority
in¬‚uence depended on the quality of the arguments they made against the majority
viewpoint and the number of majority defections. In a later experiment, Clark (2001)
employed the “12 angry men paradigm” to further test this effect. In the 12 angry men
paradigm jurors are exposed to arguments opposing a majority verdict by either a single
minority juror, or by multiple jurors, some of whom were members of the majority.
Clark found that minority in¬‚uence increased when the original dissenting minority
member was joined by a member of the majority.
Another interesting aspect of minority in¬‚uence is that a minority is more likely to
voice a dissenting view when he or she is anonymous (e.g., via computer) compared
to face-to-face communication (McLeod, Baron, Marti, & Yoon, 1997). Interestingly,
however, a minority has more power to in¬‚uence a majority in face-to-face communi-
cation. Ironically, then, those media that enhance the likelihood of a minority voicing
a dissenting opinion also decrease the ability of the minority to in¬‚uence the majority
(McLeod et al., 1997). In another ironic twist, the degree to which a majority will care-
fully process a persuasive message of the minority is inversely related to the size of the
minority. The smaller the minority, the more likely it is that the majority will carefully
process the minorityʼs message (Martin, Gardikiotis, & Hewstone, 2002). A majority
only needs a 50% split to gain compliance from a minority (Martin et al., 2002).

Majority and Minority In¬‚uence: Two Processes or One?
Social in¬‚uence, as we have seen, operates in two directions: from majority to minority
and from minority to majority. The discovery of minority in¬‚uence raised an issue con-
cerning the underlying social psychological processes controlling majority and minor-
ity in¬‚uence. Do two different processes control majority and minority in¬‚uence, or is
there a single process controlling both?

The Two-Process Model
Judgments expressed by a minority may be more likely to make people think about the
arguments raised (Moscovici, 1980). This suggests that two different processes operate:
majority in¬‚uence, which occurs almost exclusively on a public level, and minority in¬‚u-
ence, which seems to operate on a private level. Majority in¬‚uence, according to the
two-process approach, operates through the application of pressure. People agree with
a majority because of public pressure, but often they really donʼt accept the majorityʼs
view on a private level. The fact that the majority exerts great psychological pressure
is re¬‚ected in the ¬nding that people feel very anxious when they ¬nd themselves in
disagreement with the majority (Asch, 1956; Nemeth, 1986). However, as soon as
Social Psychology
246

majority pressure is removed, people return to their original beliefs. Majority in¬‚u-
ence, in this model, is like normative in¬‚uence”it does not necessarily have a lasting
effect. For example, Karl, in the Leroy Reed case, changed his verdict in response to
group pressure. However, he probably went home still believing, deep down, that Reed
should have been convicted.
Minority in¬‚uence, according to the two-process approach, operates by making
people think more deeply about the minorityʼs position (Nemeth, 1986). In doing so,
they evaluate all the aspects of the minority view. The majority decides to agree with
the minority because they are converted to its position (Nemeth, 1992). Minority in¬‚u-
ence is like informational in¬‚uence. The character played by Henry Fonda in Twelve
Angry Men convinced the majority members to change their votes through informational
social in¬‚uence. Thus, unlike the majority in¬‚uencing Karl in the Reed case through
normative pressure, Fonda changed the minds of the other jurors by applying persua-
sive informational arguments.

A Single-Process Model: Social Impact Theory
The dual-process model suggests that there are different psychological processes under-
lying majority and minority in¬‚uence. A competing view, the single-process approach
to social in¬‚uence, suggests that one psychological process accounts for both majority
and minority in¬‚uence. The ¬rst theory designed to explain majority and minority in¬‚u-
ence with a single underlying process was proposed by Latan© (Latan©, 1981; Latan©
social impact theory & Wolf, 1981). Latan©ʼs social impact theory suggests that social in¬‚uence processes
A theory stating that social are the result of the interaction between the strength, immediacy, and number of in¬‚u-
in¬‚uence is a function of the ence sources. This model can be summed up by the formula:
combination of the strength,
immediacy, and number of
In¬‚uence = ’(SIN)
in¬‚uence sources.

where S represents the strength of the source of the in¬‚uence, I represents the imme-
diacy (or closeness) of the source of in¬‚uence, and N represents the number of in¬‚u-
ence sources.
Latan© (1981) suggested an analogy between the effect of social in¬‚uence and
the effect of lightbulbs. If, for example, you have a bulb of a certain strength (e.g.,
50 watts) and place it 10 feet from a wall, it will cast light of a given intensity against
the wall. If you move the bulb closer to the wall (immediacy), the intensity of the
light on the wall increases. Moving it farther from the wall decreases the intensity.
Increasing or decreasing the wattage of the bulb (the strength of the source) also
changes the intensity of the light cast on the wall. Finally, if you add a second bulb
(number), the intensity of light will increase. Similarly, the amount of social in¬‚u-
ence increases if the strength of a source of in¬‚uence is increased (e.g., if the sourceʼs
credibility is enhanced), if the sourceʼs immediacy is increased, or if the number of
in¬‚uence sources is increased.
Latan© also suggested that there is a nonlinear relationship between the number
of sources and the amount of in¬‚uence. According to Latan©, adding a second in¬‚u-
ence source to a solitary source will have greater impact than adding the 101st source
to 100 sources. Social impact theory predicts that in¬‚uence increases rapidly between
zero and three sources and then diminishes beyond that point, which is consistent with
the research on the effects of majority size.
Social impact theory can be used to account for both minority and majority in¬‚u-
ence processes. In a minority in¬‚uence situation, social in¬‚uence forces operate on both
the minority and majority, pulling each other toward the otherʼs position (Latan©, 1981).
Chapter 7 Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience 247

Latan© suggested that minority in¬‚uence will depend on the strength, immediacy, and
number of in¬‚uence sources in the minority, just as in majority in¬‚uence. Thus, a
minority of two should have greater in¬‚uence on the majority than a minority of one, a
prediction that has received empirical support (Arbuthnot & Wayner, 1982; Moscovici
& Lage, 1976).
An experiment by Hart, Stasson, and Karau (1999) provides support for the social
impact explanation for minority in¬‚uence. In their experiment, Hart et al. varied the
strength of the minority source (high or low) and the physical distance between the minor-
ity member and majority (near or far). The results showed that in the “near” condition
the high- and low-strength minority had equivalent levels of in¬‚uence. However, in the
“far” condition, the low-strength source had little in¬‚uence whereas the high-strength
minority had a strong in¬‚uence. So, two factors included in social impact theory affect
the amount of minority in¬‚uence.
Although there is still a measure of disagreement over the exact mechanisms under-
lying minority in¬‚uence, it is fair to say that there is more support for the single-process
model. However, there is also evidence supporting the dual-process model .



Compliance: Responding to a Direct Request
compliance Social in¬‚uence
Compliance occurs when you modify your behavior in response to a direct request from
process that involves modifying
another person. In compliance situations, the person making the request has no power
behavior after accepting a
to force you to do as he or she asks. For example, your neighbor can ask that you move
direct request.
your car so that she can back a truck into her driveway. However, assuming your car is
legally parked, she has no legal power to force you to move your car. If you go out and
move your car, you have (voluntarily) complied with her request. In this section, we
explore two compliance strategies: the foot-in-the-door technique and the door-in-the-
face technique. We start by looking at the foot-in-the-door technique.

Foot-in-the-Door Technique
Imagine that you are doing some shopping in a mall and a person approaches you. The

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