Types of Social Influence

Lesson 1, Topic 3
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Types of Social Influence

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Directions: Before you start, listen to part of a talk in a psychology class.

*Vocabulary is sometimes provided in written form when it may be unfamiliar to the student but essential for understanding the lecture

normative social influence
informational social influence
Asch conformity studies

Types of Social Influence - Transcript

In normative social influence, people conform to the group norm to fit in, to feel good, and to be accepted by the group. However, with informational social influence, people conform because they believe the group is competent and has the correct information, particularly when the task or situation is ambiguous. In one famous study, known as the Asch conformity studies, participants were placed together in a room and asked to look at a drawing of clear and simple straight line. The participants in the study did not have to rely on the group for information, anyone who saw the picture knew it was a straight line. So, when the other participants, who were secretly researchers taking part of the study, all agreed that the line was a curved line and not a straight line, the one studied participant actually agreed with the other people in the group, even though it was clear that they were wrong. In other words, participants complied to fit in and avoid ridicule, an instance of normative social influence.

An example of informational social influence may be what to do in an emergency situation. Imagine that you are in a movie theater watching a film and what seems to be smoke comes in the theater from under the emergency exit door. You are not certain that it is smoke — it might be a special effect for the movie, such as a fog machine. When you are uncertain you will tend to look at the behavior of others in the theater. If other people show concern and get up to leave, you are likely to do the same. However, if others seem unconcerned, you are likely to stay put and continue watching the movie.