The Art and Science of Persuasion

Week 3 – Assignment

The Art and Science of Persuasion

Read Harnessing the Science of Persuasion (Cialdini, 2001).  Consider this source as you complete the Assignment.

  1. Part I:  Examples
    1. Assemble advertisements, commercials, or personal experiences/observations that illustrate each of the six fundamental principles identified in Cialdini (2001).  Do not use examples from your textbook.
      • Submit “Part I”, a separate document with the examples you located.  Preferably, copy and paste print media examples, along with proper citation information; links are acceptable for broadcast or electronic media (television, internet, etc.).  If neither images nor links are available (e.g., in the case of a personal observation or experience), a brief description will suffice.  Label your examples clearly and provide a one paragraph explanation for each.
  2. Part II:  A Social Psychological Analysis of _______
    1. Explain in-depth how social psychological principles of persuasion are relevant for one of your selected advertisements, citing relevant research.  Relate characteristics of the communicator, the message, and the target audience.
    2. Formulate a plan to intentionally enhance persuasiveness.  What are various alternative techniques one might employ effectively?
      • Submit “Part II”, structured as a paper and written in APA style.

The Art and Science of Persuasion paper

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Harnessing the Science of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

A LUCKY FEW HAVE IT; most of US do not. A handful / \ of gifted “naturals” simply know how to cap-

/ \ ture an audience, sway the undecided, and convert the opposition. Watching these masters of persuasion work their magic is at once impressive and frustrating. What’s impressive is not just the easy way they use charisma and eloquence to convince others to do as they ask. It’s also how eager those others are to do what’s requested of them, as if the persuasion itself were a favor they couldn’t wait to repay.

The frustrating part of the experience is that these bom persuaders are often unahle to ac- count for their remarkable skill or pass it on to others. Their way with people is an art, and artists as a rule are far hetter at doing than at explaining. Most of them can’t offer much help to those of us who possess no more than the ordinary quotient of charisma and eloquence but who still have to wres- tle with leadership’s fundamental chal- lenge: getting things done through oth- ers. That challenge is painfully familiar to corporate executives, who every day have to figure out how to motivate and direct a highly individualistic workforce. Playing the “Because I’m the boss” card is out. Even if it weren’t demeaning and demoraliz- ing for all concerned, it would be out of place in a world where cross-functional teams, joint ven- tures, and intercompany part- nerships have blurred the lines of authority. In such an en- vironment, persuasion skills exert far greater influence over others’ behavior than formal power structures do.


Jo leader can succeed without mastering the art of persuasion.

But there’s hard science in that skill, too, and a large body

3f psychological research suggests there are six basic laws of

rinning friends and influencing people.


Harness i ng the Science o f Persuas ion

Which brings us back to where we started. Persuasion skills may be more necessary than ever, but how can ex- ecutives acquire them if the most talented practitioners can’t pass them along? By looking to science. For the past five decades, behavioral scientists have conducted exper- iments that shed considerable light on the way certain interactions lead people to concede, comply, or change. This research shows that persuasion works by appealing to a limited set of deeply rooted human drives and needs, and it does so in predictable ways. Persuasion, in other words, is governed by basic principles that can be taught, learned, and applied. By mastering these principles, exec- utives can bring scientific rigor to the business of securing consensus, cutting deals, and winning concessions. In the pages that follow, 1 describe six fundamental principles of persuasion and suggest a few ways that executives can apply them in their own organizations.


Liking: People like those who like them.


Uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise.

The retailing phenomenon known as the Tupperware party is a vivid illustration of this principle in action. The demonstration party for Tupperware products is hosted by an individual, almost always a woman, who in- vites to her home an array of friends, neighbors, and rel- atives. The guests’ affection for their hostess predisposes them to buy from her, a dynamic that was confirmed by a 1990 study of purchase decisions made at demonstra- tion parties. The researchers, Jonathan Frenzen and Harry Davis, writing in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that the guests’ fondness for their hostess weighed twice as heavily in their purchase decisions as their re- gard for the products they bought. So when guests at a Tupperware party buy something, they aren’t just buy- ing to please themselves. They’re buying to please their hostess as well.

What’s true at Tupperware parties is true for business in general: If you want to influence people, win friends. How? Controlled research has identified several factors that reliably increase liking, but two stand out as espe-

Robert B. Cialdini is the Regents’ Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and the author of Influence: Science and Practice (Allyn & Bacon, 2001), now in its fourth edition. Further regularly updated information about the in- fluence process can be found at

cially compelling-similarity and praise. Similarity liter- ally draws people together. In one experiment, reported in a 1968 article in the Journal of Personality, participants stood physically closer to one another after learning that they shared political beliefs and social values. And in a 1963 article in American Behavioral Scientists, researcher F. B. Evans used demographic data from insurance com- pany records to demonstrate that prospects were more willing to purchase a policy from a salesperson who was akin to them in age, religion, politics, or even cigarette- smoking habits.

Managers can use similarities to create bonds with a re- cent hire, the head of another department, or even a new boss. Informal conversations during the workday create an ideal opportunity to discover at least one common area of enjoyment, be it a hobby, a college basketball team, or reruns of Seinfeld. The important thing is to es- tablish the bond early because it creates a presumption of goodwill and trustworthiness in every subsequent encounter. It’s much easier to build support for a new project when the people you’re trying to persuade are al- ready inclined in your favor.

Praise, tbe other reliable generator of affection, both charms and disarms. Sometimes the praise doesn’t even have to be merited. Researchers at the University of North Carolina writing in the Journal of Experimental So- cial Psychology found that men felt the greatest regard for an individual who flattered them unstintingly even if the comments were untrue. And in their book Interpersonal Attraction (Addison-Wesley, 1978), Ellen Berscheid and Elaine Hatfieid Walster presented experimental data showing that positive remarks about another person’s traits, attitude, or performance reliably generates liking in retum, as well as willing compliance with the wishes of the person offering the praise.

Along with cultivating a fruitful relationship, adroit managers can also use praise to repair one that’s damaged or unproductive. Imagine you’re the manager of a good- sized unit within your organization. Your work frequently brings you into contact with another manager-call him Dan – whom you have come to dislike. No matter bow much you do for him, it’s not enough. Worse, he never seems to believe that you’re doing the best you can for him. Resenting his attitude and his obvious lack of trust in your abilities and in your good faith, you don’t spend as much time with him as you know you should; in con- sequence, the performance of both his unit and yours is deteriorating.

The research on praise points toward a strategy for fix- ing the relationship. It may be hard to find, but there has to be something about Dan you can sincerely admire, whether it’s his concern for the people in his department, his devotion to his family, or simply his work ethic. In your next encounter with him, make an appreciative comment about that trait. Make it clear that in this case


Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

at least, you value what tie values. I predict that Dan will relax his relentless negativity and give you an opening to convince him of your competence and good intentions.


Reciprocity: People repay in kind.


Give what you want to receive.

Praise is likely to have a wanning and softening effect on Dan because, ornery as he is, he is still human and subject to the universal human tendency to treat people the way they treat him. If you have ever caught yourself smiling at a coworker just because he or she smiled first, you know how this principle works.

Charities rely on reciprocity to help them raise funds. For years, for instance, the Disabled American Veterans organization, using only a well-crafted fund-raising letter, garnered a very respectable 18% rate of response to its ap- peals. But when the group started enclosing a small gift in the envelope, the response rate nearly doubled to 35%. The gift – personalized address labels – was extremely modest, but it wasn’t what prospective donors received that made the difference. It was that they had gotten any- thing at all.

What works in that letter works at the office, too. It’s more than an effusion of seasonal spirit, of course, that impels suppliers to shower gifts on purchasing depart- ments at holiday time. In 1996, purchasing managers ad- mitted to an interviewer from Inc. magazine that after having accepted a gift from a supplier, they were willing to purchase products and services they would have oth- erwise declined. Gifts also have a startling effect on re- tention. I have encouraged readers of my book to send me examples of the principles of influence at work in their own lives. One reader, an employee of the State of Ore- gon, sent a letter in which she oftered these reasons for her commitment to her supervisor:

He gives me and my son gifts for Christmas and gives me presents on my birthday. There is no promotion for the type of job I have, and my only choice for one is to move to another department. But I find myself resist- ing trying to move. My boss is reaching retirement age, and I am thinking 1 will be able to move out after he re- tires….[F]or now, I feel obligated to stay since he has been so nice to me. Ultimately, though, gift giving is one of the cruder

applications of the rule of reciprocity. In its more sophis- ticated uses, it confers a genuine first-mover advantage on any manager who is trying to foster positive attitudes

and productive persona! relationships in the office: Managers can elicit the desired behavior from cowork- ers and employees by displaying it first Whether it’s a sense of trust, a spirit of ctwperation, or a pleasant de- meanor, leaders should model the behavior they want to see from others.

The same holds true for managers faced with issues of information delivery and resource allocation. If you lend a member of your staff to a colleague who is shorthanded and staring at a fast-approaching deadline, you will sig- nificantly increase your chances of gefting help when you need it. Your odds wil! improve even more if you say, when your colleague thanks you for the assistance, some- thing like, “Sure, glad to help. I know how important it is for me to count on your help when I need it.”


Social Proof: People follow the lead of similar others. ,


Use peer power whenever it’s available.

Social creatures that they are, human beings rely heav- ily on the people around them for cues on how to think, feel, and act. We know this intuitively, but intuition has also been confirmed by experiments, such as the one first described in 1982 in the Journal of Applied Psychology. A group of researchers went door-to-door in Columbia, South Carolina, soliciting donations for a charity cam- paign and displaying a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the cause. The researchers found that the longer the donor list was, the more likely those solicited would be to donate as well.

To the people being solicited, the friends’ and neigh- bors’ names on the list were a form of socia! evidence about how they should respond. But the evidence would not have been nearly as compelling had the names been those of random strangers. In an experiment from the 1960s, first described in the Journal of Personality and 50- ciat Psychology, residents of New York City were asked to retum a lost wallet to its owner. They were highly likely to aftempt to return the waUet when they !earned that an- other New Yorker had previous!y aftempted to do so. But !eaming that someone from a foreign country had tried to retum the wallet didn’t sway their decision one way or the other.

The lesson for executives ftom these two experiments is that persuasion can be extremely effective when it comes from peers. The science supports what most sales professionals already know: Testimonials from satis- fied customers work best when the satisfied customer

OCTOBER 2001 75

Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

and the prospective customer share similar circum- stances. That lesson can help a manager faced with the task of selling a new corporate initiative. Imagine that you’re trying to streamline your department’s work processes. A group of veteran employees is resisting. Rather than try to convince the employees of the move’s merits yourself, ask an old-timer who supports the initia- tive to speak up for it at a team meeting. The compatriot’s testimony stands a much better chance of convincing the group than yet another speech from the boss. Stated sim- ply, influence is often best exerted horizontally rather than vertically.


Consistency: People align with their clear commitments.


Make their commitments active, public, and voluntary.

Liking is a powerful force, but the work of persuasion in- volves more than simply making people feel warmly to- ward you, your idea, or your product. People need not only to like you but to feel committed to what you want them to do. Good turns are one reliable way to make peo- ple feel obligated to you. Another is to win a public com- mitment from them.

My own research has demonstrated that most people, once they take a stand or go on record in favor of a posi- tion, prefer to stick to it. Other studies reinforce that find- ing and go on to show how even a small, seemingly triv- ial commitment can have a powerful effect on future actions. Israeli researchers writing in 1983 in the Person- ality and Social Psychology Bulletin recounted how they asked half the residents of a large apartment complex to sign a petition favoring the establishment of a recreation center for the handicapped. The cause was good and the request was small, so almost everyone who was asked agreed to sign. T\vo weeks later, on National Collection Day for the Handicapped, all residents of the complex were approached at home and asked to give to the cause. A little more than half of those who were not asked to sign the petition made a contribution. But an astounding 92% of those who did sign donated money. The residents of the apartment complex felt obligated to live up to their commitments because those commitments were active, public, and voluntary. These three features are worth con- sidering separately.

There’s strong empirical evidence to show that a choice made actively – one that’s spoken out loud or written down or otherwise made explicit – is considerably more

likely to direct someone’s future conduct than the same choice left unspoken. Writing in 1996 in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Delia Cioffi and Randy Gar- ner described an experiment in which college students in one group were asked to fill out a printed form saying they wished to volunteer for an AIDS education project in the public schools. Students in another group volun- teered for the same project by leaving blank a form stat- ing that they didn’t want to participate. A few days later, when the volunteers reported for duty, 74% of those who showed up were students from the group that signaled their commitment by filling out the form.

The implications are clear for a manager who wants to persuade a subordinate to follow some particular course of action: Get it in writing. Let’s suppose you want your employee to submit reports in a more timely fashion. Once you believe you’ve won agreement, ask him to sum- marize the decision in a memo and send it to you. By doing so, you’ll have greatly increased the odds that he’ll fulfill the commitment because, as a rule, people live up to what they have written down.

Research into the social dimensions of commitment suggests that written statements become even more pow- erful when they’re made public. In a classic experiment, described in 1955 in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, college students were asked to estimate the length of lines projected on a screen. Some students were asked to write down their choices on a piece of paper, sign it, and hand the paper to the experimenter. Others wrote their choices on an erasable slate, then erased the slate im- mediately. Still others were instructed to keep their deci- sions to themselves.

The experimenters then presented all three groups with evidence that their initial choices may have been wrong. Those who had merely kept their decisions in their heads were the most likely to reconsider their original es- timates. More loyal to their first guesses were the students in the group that had written them down and immedi- ately erased them. But by a wide margin, the ones most re- luctant to shift from their original choices were those who had signed and handed them to the researcher.

This experiment highlights how much most people wish to appear consistent to others. Consider again the matter of the employee who has been submitting late re- ports. Recognizing the power of this desire, you should, once you’ve successfully convinced him of the need to be more timely, reinforce the commitment by making sure it gets a public airing. One way to do that would be to send the employee an e-mail that reads, “1 think your plan is just what we need. I showed it to Diane in manufacturing and Phil in shipping, and they thought it was right on tar- get, too.” Whatever way such commitments are formal- ized, they should never be like the New Year’s resolutions people privately make and then abandon with no one the wiser. They should be publicly made and visibly posted.


Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

More than 300 years ago, Samuel Butler wrote a cou- plet that explains succinctly why commitments must be voluntary to be lasting and effective: “He that complies against his will/Is of his own opinion still.” If an undertak- ing is forced, coerced, or imposed from the outside, it’s not a commitment; it’s an unwelcome burden. Think how you would react if your boss pressured you to donate to the campaign of a political candidate. Would that make you more apt to opt for that candidate in the privacy of a vot- ing booth? Not likely. In fact, in their 1981 book Psycho- logical Reactance (Academic Press), Sharon S. Brehm and Jack W. Brehm present data that suggest you’d vote the opposite way just to express your resentment of the boss’s coercion.

This kind of backlash can occur in the office, too. Let’s return again to that tardy employee. If you want to pro- duce an enduring change in his behavior, you should avoid using threats or pressure tactics to gain his compli- ance. He’d likely view any change in his behavior as the result of intimidation rather than a personal commitment to change. A better approach would be to identify some- thing that the employee genuinely values in the work- place – high-quality workmanship, perhaps, or team spirit-and then describe how timely reports are consis- tent with those values. That gives the employee reasons for improvement that he can own. And because he owns them, they’ll continue to guide his behavior even when you’re not watching.


Authority: People defer to experts.


Expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident

T\vo thousand years ago, the Roman poet Virgil offered this simple counsel to those seeking to choose correctly: “Believe an expert.” That may or may not be good advice, but as a description of what people actually do, it can’t be beaten. For instance, when the news media present an ac- knowledged expert’s views on a topic, the effect on pub- lic opinion is dramatic. A single expert-opinion news story in the New York Times is associated with a 2% shift in pub- lic opinion nationwide, according to a 1993 study de- scribed in the Public Opinion Quarterly. And researchers writing in the American Political Science Review in 1987 found that when the expert’s view was aired on national television, public opinion shifted as much as 4%. A cynic might argue that these findings only illustrate the docile submissiveness of the public. But a fairer explanation is

that, amid the teeming complexity of contemporary life, a well-selected expert offers a valuable and efficient short- cut to good decisions. Indeed, some questions, be they legal, financial, medical, or technological, require so much specialized knowledge to answer, we have no choice but to rely on experts.

Since there’s good reason to defer to experts, execu- tives should take pains to ensure that they establish their

Surprisingly often, people mistakenly

assume that others recognize and

appreciate their experience.

own expertise before they attempt to exert influence. Sur- prisingly often, people mistakenly assume that others rec- ognize and appreciate their experience. That’s what hap- pened at a hospital where some colleagues and I were consulting. The physical therapy staffers were frustrated because so many of their stroke patients abandoned their exercise routines as soon as they left the hospital. No mat- ter how often the staff emphasized the importance of regular home exercise-it is, in fact, crucial to the process of regaining independent function – the message just didn’t sink in.

Interviews with some of the patients helped us pin- point the problem. They were familiar with the back- ground and training of their physicians, but the patients knew little about the credentials of the physical therapists wbo were urging them to exercise. It was a simple matter to remedy that lack of information: We merely asked the therapy director to display all the awards, diplomas, and certifications of her staff on the walls of the therapy rooms. The result was startling: Exercise compliance jumped 34% and has never dropped since.

What we found immensely gratifying was not just how much we increased compliance, but how. We didn’t fool or browbeat any of the patients. We informed them into compliance. Nothing had to be invented; no time or re- sources had to be spent in the process. The staff’s exper- tise was real -all we had to do was make it more visible.

The task for managers who want to establish their claims to expertise is somewhat more difficult. They can’t simply nail their diplomas to the wall and wait for every- one to notice. A little subtlety is called for. Outside the United States, it is customary for people to spend time in- teracting socially before getting down to business for the first time. Frequently they gather for dinner the night be- fore their meeting or negotiation. These get-togethers can

OCTOBER 2001 77

Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

Persuasion Experts, Safe at Last

Thanks to several decades of rigorous empirical research by behavioral scientists, our understand- ing of the how and why of persuasion has never been broader, deeper, or more detailed. But these scientists aren’t the first students of the subject. The history of persuasion studies is an ancient and honorable one, and it has generated a long rosterof heroes and martyrs.

A renowned student of social influence, William McCui re, contends in a chapter of the Handbook of Social Psychology, 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press, 1985) that scattered among the more than four millennia of recorded Western history are four centuries in which the study of persuasion flourished as a craft. The first was the Periclean Age of ancient Athens, the second oc- curred during the years of the Roman Republic, the next appeared in the time of the European Renaissance, and the last extended over the hun- dred years that have just ended, which witnessed the advent of large-scale advertising, mformation, and mass media campaigns. Each of the three previous centuries of systematic persuasion study was marked by a flowering of human achieve- ment that was suddenly cut short when political authorities had the masters of persuasion killed. The philosopher Socrates is probably the best known of the persuasion experts to run afoul of the powers that be.

Information about the persuasion process is a threat because it creates a base of power entirely separate from the one controlled by political au- thorities. Faced with a rival source of influence, rulers in previous centuries had few qualms about eliminating those rare individuals who truly understood how to marshal forces that heads of state have never been able to monopo- lize, such as cleverly crafted language, strategi- cally placed information, and, most important, psychological insight.

It would perhaps be expressing too much faith in human nature to claim that persuasion experts no longer face a threat from those who wield politi- cal power. But because the truth about persuasion is no longer the sole possession of a few brilliant, inspired individuals, experts in the field can pre- sumably breathe a littie easier Indeed, since most people in power are interested in remaining in power, they’re likely to be more interested in ac- quiring persuasion skills than abolishing them.

make discussions easier and help blunt disagreements- remember the findings about liking and similarity – and they can also provide an opportunity to establish exp)er- tise. Perhaps it’s a matter of telling an anecdote about successfully solving a problem similar to the one that’s on the agenda at the next day’s meeting. Or perhaps dinner is the time to describe years spent mastering a complex discipline-not in a boastful way but as part of the ordi- nary give-and-take of conversation.

Granted, there’s not always time for lengthy introduc- tory sessions. But even in the course of the preliminary conversation that precedes most meetings, there is almost always an opportunity to touch lightly on your relevant background and experience as a natural part of a sociable exchange. This initial disclosure of personal information gives you a chance to establish expertise early in the game, so that when the discussion turns to the business at hand, what you have to say will be accorded the respect it deserves.


Scarcity: People want more ofwhat they can have less of.


Highlight unique benefits and exclusive information.

Study after study shows that items and opportunities are seen to be more valuable as they become less available. That’s a tremendously useful piece of information for managers. They can harness the scarcity principle with the organizational equivalents of limited-time, limited- supply, and one-of-a-kind offers. Honestly informing a coworker of a closing window of opportunity-the chance to get the boss’s ear before she leaves for an extended va- cation, perhaps-can mobilize action dramatically.

Managers can learn from retailers how to frame their offers not in terms of what people stand to gain but in terms ofwhat they stand to lose if they don’t act on the in- formation. The power of “loss language” was demon- strated in a 1988 study of California home owners written up in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Half were told that if they fully insulated their homes, they would save a certain amount of money each day. The other half were told that if they failed to insulate, they would lose that amount each day. Significantly more people insulated their homes when exposed to the loss language. The same phenomenon occurs in business. According to a 1994 study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, potential losses figure far more heavily in managers’ decision making than potential gains.


Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

In framing their offers, executives should also remem- ber that exclusive information is more persuasive than widely available data. A doctoral student of mine, Amram Knishinsky, wrote his 1982 dissertation on the purchase decisions of wholesale beef buyers. He observed that they more than doubled their orders when they were told that, because of certain weather conditions overseas, there was likely to be a scarcity of foreign beef in the near future. But their orders increased 600% when they were in- formed that no one else had that information yet.

The persuasive power of exclusivity can be harnessed by any manager who comes into possession of informa- tion that’s not broadly available and that supports an idea or initiative he or she would like the organization to adopt. The next time that kind of information crosses your desk, round up your organization’s key players. The information itself may seem dull, but exclusivity will give it a special sheen. Push it across your desk and say, “I just got this report today. It won’t be distributed until next week, but I want to give you an early look at what it shows.” Then watch your listeners lean forward.

Allow me to stress here a point that should be obvious. No offer of exclusive information, no exhortation to act now or miss this opportunity forever should be made un- less it is genuine. Deceiving colleagues into compliance is not only ethically objectionable, it’s foolhardy. If the de- ception is detected-and it certainly will be- i t will snuff out any enthusiasm the offer originally kindled. It will also invite dishonesty toward the deceiver. Remember the rule of reciprocity.

Putting It All Together There’s nothing abstruse or obscure about these six prin- ciples of persuasion. Indeed, they neatly codify our intu- itive understanding of the ways people evaluate informa- tion and form decisions. As a result, the principles are easy for most people to grasp, even those with no formal education in psychology. But in the seminars and work- shops I conduct, I have learned that two points bear re- peated emphasis.

First, although the six principles and their applications can be discussed separately for the sake of clarity, they should be applied in combination to compound their im- pact. For instance, in discussing the importance of ex- pertise, I suggested that managers use informal, social conversations to establish their credentials. But that con- versation affords an opportunity to gain information as well as convey it. While you’re showing your dinner com- panion that you have the skills and experience your busi- ness problem demands, you can also learn about your companion’s background, likes, and dislikes – informa- tion that will help you locate genuine similarities and give sincere compliments. By letting your expertise sur- face and also establishing rapport, you double your per-

suasive power. And if you succeed in bringing your din- ner partner on board, you may encourage other peopie to sign on as well, thanks to the persuasive power of so- cial evidence.

The other point I wish to emphasize is that the rules of ethics apply to the science of social influence just as they do to any other technology. Not only is it ethically wrong to trick or trap others into assent, it’s ill-advised in practical terms. Dishonest or high-pressure tactics work only in the short run, if at all. Their long-term effects are malignant, especially within an organization, which can’t function properly without a bedrock level of trust and cooperation.

That point is made vividly in the following account, which a department head for a large textile manufacturer related at a training workshop I conducted. She described a vice president in her company who wrung public com- mitments from department heads in a highly manipu- lative manner. Instead of giving his subordinates time to talk or think through his proposals carefully, he would approach them individually at the busiest moment of their workday and describe the benefits of his plan in exhaustive, patience-straining detail. Then he would move in for the kill. “It’s very important for me to see you as being on my team on this,” he would say. “Can I count on your support?” Intimidated, frazzled, eager to chase the man from their offices so they could get back to work, the department heads would invariably go along with his request. But because the commitments never felt voluntary, the department heads never followed through, and as a result the vice president’s initiatives all blew up or petered out.

Tliis story had a deep impact on the other participants in the workshop. Some gulped in shock as they recog- nized their own manipulative behavior. But what stopped everyone cold was the expression on the department head’s face as she recounted the damaging collapse of her superior’s proposals. She was smiling.

Nothing I could say would more effectively make the point that the deceptive or coercive use of the principles of social infiuence is ethically wrong and pragmatically wrongheaded. Yet the same principles, if applied appro- priately, can steer decisions correctly. Legitimate exper- tise, genuine obligations, authentic similarities, real so- cial proof, exclusive news, and freely made commitments can produce choices that are likely to benefit both parties. And any approach that works to everyone’s mutual ben- efit is good business, don’t you think? Of course, I don’t want to press you into it, but, if you agree, 1 would love it if you could just jot me a memo to that effect. ^

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Chapter 8

Conformity and Obedience

8.1 Conformity


Norma�ve and Informa�onal Influence

Minority Influence

8.2 Obedience to Authority

8.3 Leadership

Chapter Summary


Learning Objec�ves

A�er reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Explain Solomon Asch’s study of conformity

Differen�ate injunc�ve norms from descrip�ve norms and norma�ve influence from informa�onal influence

Describe how conformity may result in either acceptance or compliance

Explain the power of minori�es

Describe Milgram’s study of obedience and the factors that make obedience more or less likely to occur

Explain factors that predict disobedience

Describe the ethical issues with Milgram’s study and Milgram’s response to those concerns

Define leadership and differen�ate the three main types of leadership

Define implicit leadership theories

Chapter Outline

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What Predicts Obedience?


Ethics of Obedience Research

* * *

In 1956, Jim Jones, an untrained but charisma�c pastor, started the “People’s Temple,” a racially integrated, socially minded church in Indiana. Ten years later, he and his congrega�on moved to California and grew in size and power. Here, pressures toward conformity helped align individuals’ behavior with group expecta�ons. Jones used social influence in services to punish members for undesirable behavior, bringing members up during gatherings and publicly shaming them for their ac�ons. Church members were expected to obey Jones’ edicts without ques�on. Feeling persecuted for the good work he was doing Jones moved his en�re church to Guyana, in South America, to a se�lement he named Jonestown. He dreamed of crea�ng a utopian community, where young and old were treated with dignity and respect and the color of one’s skin did not ma�er. But Jones became increasingly paranoid and controlling. Members worked long days, o�en listening to Jones speak over the loudspeaker, and were not allowed to leave. Concerned families back home asked U.S. Representa�ve Leo Ryan to check out the situa�on.

In November 1978, Ryan, some of his staff, and a news crew traveled to Guyana to meet with Jones and members of the People’s Temple. Some of the Jonestown residents decided to leave with the congressman and as they waited for the planes to be readied other members of Jonestown a�acked the group, killing the congressman and several others. Fearing retalia�on Jones asked his followers to commit suicide in what he called a revolu�onary act. They mixed up vats of flavored drink laced with cyanide and gave it to the children first, then the adults. Those who refused were encouraged by guards with guns. In the end, 918 people died, either in the a�ack at the airport or in the mass suicide. Jones died of a gunshot to the head (Hall, 1987). The People’s Temple relied on pressure from the group and obedience to authority to do its work and to grow. The story of Jonestown is a drama�c example of the power of conformity and obedience, forces we will explore in greater depth in this chapter.

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Figure 8.1: Visual percep�on test

Asch used this visual percep�on test. Par�cipants were asked which comparison line was the same length as the standard line. The par�cipants were unknowingly mixed with confederates. The confederates purposefully agreed on the wrong answer. Asch measured how many par�cipants agreed with the confederates (even though they were wrong) and how many did not. From Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scien�fic American, 193, 31–35. doi: 10.1038/scien�ficamerican1155-31

Figure 8.2: Par�cipant conformity rates with confederate(s)

8.1 Conformity You have been invited to be a par�cipant in a research study. When you show up, you find that seven other par�cipants have already arrived. All of you are seated around a table and are asked to be part of a study that, at least by appearances, is inves�ga�ng visual percep�on. You are shown a line, called the s�mulus line, and are asked which of three other lines the s�mulus line matches. This looks to be a simple task; you expect to be a li�le bored. For the first couple of rounds, the study goes as expected, with each person around the table choosing the line that obviously matches the s�mulus line. Then something odd happens. The first person chooses the wrong line. You are surprised; the line the person chooses is obviously not the right one. You wait for the second person to choose the right line. But the second person agrees with the first person. The third and fourth also agree. The fi�h person chooses the same wrong line and then the sixth. Finally, it is your turn. You need to decide whether to go along with the group, a group that is unanimous, or trust your eyes and choose what you perceive is the right line. What do you do?

This scenario was experienced by par�cipants in Solomon Asch’s (1958) study of conformity. Conformity can be defined as going along with a group’s ac�ons or beliefs. The study was designed to pit individuals against a unanimous group to see whether people would go along with the group or s�ck with what their senses were telling them was right. In this study, one third of judgments made by par�cipants went along with the majority opinion. Looking at how likely individual par�cipants were to conform, Asch found that one quarter of all par�cipants never went along with the majority. On the other side, one third of par�cipants conformed 50% of the �me or more. The rest of the par�cipants showed at least occasional conformity. Altogether, three quarters of par�cipants conformed to the group judgment at least once. See Figures 8.1 and 8.2 for more on the specific test Asch used and the results.

Par�cipants who did not go along with the group were not unaffected by the fact that their judgments were going against the group. Some seemed confused or hesitant in their answers, but persevered anyway. Even those who were more certain of their judgments were chagrined at their own deviance. Of those who went along with the group, some thought that the answers they and the group were giving were wrong, but nevertheless went along with the group. Others came to believe that the group was right.

Asch followed up his original study with a few varia�ons. When he varied the size of the group, he found that a unanimous group of one or two others was not as persuasive as three, but there were only minimal gains a�er adding the third person. He also had a varia�on in which another person in the group gave an accurate judgment. The presence of another person who went against the group and gave the right answer decreased conformity. Even when it goes against the majority opinion, having one other person around who agrees with us gives us more confidence to express what we believe is right.

Conformity occurs in all cultures, although rates may be slightly different. In independent cultures, we generally find less conformity than in interdependent cultures (Bond & Smith, 1996). One caveat to this is the rates of conformity in Japan. In a study using a similar conformity task to Asch’s, rates of conformity were lower in Japan than in the United States, a surprising finding given that Japanese culture is more interdependent than U.S. culture (Frager, 1970). Later researchers found that in Japan, when the group was made up of friends, conformity was much higher (Williams & Sogon, 1984). It seems that in an interdependent culture, people conform more to the ingroup but less to the outgroup. Conformity has declined slightly since Asch did his study in the early 1950s, perhaps because of a cultural shi� increasingly emphasizing individuality and the ques�oning of authority (Bond & Smith, 1996).

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When par�cipants were grouped with a single confederate in Asch’s study, they were generally as accurate as if they had been alone. When they were grouped with four confederates, they agreed with the incorrect confederates more than 30% of the �me. Adapted from Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scien�fic American, 193, 31–35. doi: 10.1038/scien�ficamerican1155- 31

Both injunc�ve and descrip�ve norms can influence our behavior.


Cri�cal Thinking Ques�ons

What is an example of an injunc�ve norm and a descrip�ve norm?

Which type of norm do you think influences your behavior more?

©2008 Ge�y Images/Chris Clinton/Lifesize/Thinkstock

If recycling is a norm in your neighborhood, you might be more likely to recycle.

Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

Did all of the par�cipants in Asch’s study go along with the group? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

No. About a quarter of the par�cipants never went along with the group. The rest conformed at least once.

What effect did the presence of someone else who went against the group have on the par�cipants in Asch’s study? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

When there was another person who did not conform, conformity of the par�cipant declined as well.


Even though most of us do not find ourselves in a room with a group of people answering targeted ques�ons, we can s�ll develop ideas based on what the collec�ve group is thinking or doing. For example, you might believe that the majority of people brush their teeth at least twice a day, and that most people are against removing educa�onal services for children with disabili�es. These beliefs about what the group is thinking or doing are called norms.

Two types of norms may influence our behavior. Norms for what is approved or disapproved of are called injunc�ve norms. Norms describing what most people do are descrip�ve norms (Cialdini, Kallgren, & Reno, 1991). Some�mes these two types of norms are in conflict; for example, a high school student may believe that the majority of people are not in favor of underage drinking (injunc�ve norm) but may also believe that the majority of teens engage in underage drinking (descrip�ve norm). O�en the injunc�ve and descrip�ve norms are similar. Most people agree that we should not steal from one another (injunc�ve norm) and that most people do not steal (descrip�ve norm). We can also be wrong about one or both of these norms. The high school student may be right that most people disapprove of underage drinking but wrong that most students engage in it (Borsari & Carey, 2003).

One place we get informa�on about norms is the environment itself. For example, if you are in a public place and see trash all around, the descrip�ve norm the environment is providing is that

everyone li�ers. This may lead you to li�er as well (Cialdini, Reno, & Kallgren, 1990). If the injunc�ve norm against li�ering were more prominent, for example, if there were signs asking you not to li�er and easily accessible trash cans were available, you may not li�er (Cialdini et al., 1990; Reno, Cialdini, & Kallgren, 1993). Norms that come from the environment will differ from place to place and culture to culture.

Telling people about descrip�ve norms can be helpful in encouraging posi�ve behaviors. In a study of energy consump�on, households that used more than the average amount of energy reduced energy consump�on when informed of the descrip�ve norm. However, households that were below the average for energy consump�on actually increased consump�on when told about the descrip�ve norm, crea�ng a boomerang effect. This can be moderated by including the injunc�ve norm along with the descrip�ve norm. Households that were told they were lower than average in energy consump�on (told of the descrip�ve norm) and then praised for their conserva�on (indica�ng an injunc�ve norm) maintained their low rate of energy consump�on (Schultz, Nolan, Cialdini, Goldstein, & Griskevicius, 2007). An adver�sing campaign in Montana that targeted drinking and driving among 21-to-34-year-olds used informa�on about social norms to encourage this age group to reduce drinking and driving, and encourage the use designated drivers (Perkins, Linkenbach, Lewis, & Neighbors, 2010).

General descrip�ve norms about posi�ve behaviors are helpful for encouraging those behaviors, but more specific norms are even more helpful. If you have stayed in a hotel recently, you have probably seen a sign about towel reuse. The hotel will replace your towel but, if you want to save water and electricity, you can choose to reuse your towel. Does it ma�er if you know what others do in this situa�on? When told that the majority of other guests in the hotel reuse their towels,

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guests were more likely to reuse their towels. But this can be strengthened with greater specificity. When told that 75% of people who stayed in their specific room (e.g., Room 201) reused their towels, guests were more likely to reuse their towels than if they were told 75% of people staying in the hotel reused their towels (Goldstein, Cialdini, & Griskevicius, 2008). Greater specificity of a norm leads to greater conformity to that norm.

Social Psychology in Depth: Drinking Norms

Drinking on college campuses is an epidemic. Nearly 80% of college students report drinking. Despite a minimum legal drinking age in the United States of 21, almost 60% of students aged 18 to 20 report drinking. Much of this drinking is binge drinking, which involves consuming at least four drinks (for women) or five drinks (for men) in a 2-hour period. More than 40% of college students report binge drinking at least once in a 2- week period (Na�onal Ins�tute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2011). In addi�on to alcohol poisoning, such behavior contributes to injuries, assaults, unsafe sex and sexual assault, academic problems, and vandalism (Centers for Disease Control and Preven�on, 2010; Na�onal Ins�tute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2011).

Alcohol use for college students depends, in part, on perceived injunc�ve and descrip�ve norms (Park, Klein, Smith, & Martell, 2009). Approval of drinking is an injunc�ve norm; the percep�on of how much drinking is being done is a descrip�ve norm. Not all norms are created equal. Researchers have found that people closer to a student are more likely to influence that student’s behavior. Perceived approval for drinking (injunc�ve norm) by close friends and parents is more important than the approval for drinking of typical students, even same-sex students (Lee, Geisner, Lewis, Neighbors, & Larimer, 2007; Neighbors et al., 2008). Similarly, students’ beliefs about how much their friends drink has more of an impact than the perceived behaviors of others (Cho, 2006; Lee et al., 2007). Descrip�ve norms seen on social media (Facebook) predicted alcohol-related thinking pa�erns that are related to alcohol use (Li� & Stock, 2011). In other words, believing that others in one’s social network are drinking makes you more willing to drink, have more posi�ve a�tudes toward drinking, and perceive your own use of alcohol as more likely.

Norms involve what we believe others approve of or are doing, but beliefs are not always accurate. In the case of norms about drinking, U.S. and Canadian students overes�mate the quan�ty and frequency of drinking by other students. Along with this, personal alcohol use is more influenced by the inaccurate norm than by the real norm for drinking on campus (Perkins, 2007; Perkins, Haines, & Rice, 2005).

Does correc�ng these mispercep�ons reduce drinking? Overall, yes. At schools where the perceived norm is more in line with the lower actual norm, there is less problema�c drinking (Perkins et al., 2005). Campaigns to change social norms tend to change perceived norms and bring down problema�c drinking behaviors (Perkins et al., 2010). For binge drinkers, the descrip�ve norms for friends influence behavior more than descrip�ve campus norms or injunc�ve norms. People who were not binge drinkers were more influenced by campus descrip�ve norms (Cho, 2006). Unfortunately, interven�ons with those most at risk, high binge drinkers, can backfire if students perceive the messages as restric�ng their freedom to do as they like (Jung, Shim, & Mantaro, 2010).

Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

When a friend tells you everyone is doing it so you should too, that friend is talking about what kind of norm? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

Descrip�ve norm. Descrip�ve norms are norms that describe what most people are doing.

What is the difference between an injunc�ve and a descrip�ve norm? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

Injunc�ve norms focus on what people think you should do–what is approved of, while descrip�ve norms focus on what most people are actually doing.

Norma�ve and Informa�onal Influence

Why do we conform? Conformity may occur because we believe that a group has some knowledge we do not. Imagine yourself at the zoo. You walk up to the lion enclosure and no�ce there are a lot of people standing over on the right side, and no one is on the le�. If you want to see the lion, where do you go? Your best bet is to the right, where all the people are. It’s likely that no one is on the le� because the lion not there. The crowd knows something you do not–where the lion is–and so by following the crowd you are more likely to see the lion. When we conform because we believe the crowd knows something, we are experiencing informa�onal influence (Castelli, Vanze�o, Sherman, & Luciano, 2001). Conformity may also occur because we want to be liked and accepted by the group. In high school, you might have worn a certain style of clothing or acted in a par�cular way not because you believed it was the right thing to do but because you wanted to be liked and accepted. When we conform because we want to be liked and accepted by others, we are experiencing norma�ve influence (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955).

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Informa�onal influence might compel you to join a crowd of onlookers—these people may know something you don’t.

These different forms of influence can lead to different types of persuasion. If you believed the group knew informa�on, you would likely act as the group does, as well as come to believe as the group does. If you were in a theater and suddenly everyone started running for the exits yelling “Fire!,” you may follow the crowd, truly believing there is a fire somewhere, even if you have not seen any evidence of it. When we both behave and believe as the group does we have experienced acceptance of the social norm. We more o�en find acceptance in the case of informa�onal influence. On the other hand, if you were in that theater following everyone as they rushed toward the exits but you did not believe there was a fire, you would be ac�ng in a way that goes along with the group norms while privately disagreeing. Such ac�on without belief is called compliance. We find more compliance in the case of norma�ve influence. In the case of the tragedy at Jonestown it seems both of these were at work. Based on recordings made during the mass suicide in Jonestown it appears many of Jim Jones’ followers truly believed in him and in his dire predic�ons, readily and willingly drinking the poisoned beverage. These people accepted the social norm. Others seem to have drunk the cyanide while not truly believing that such an act was necessary (Federal Bureau of Inves�ga�on, 1978).

Adver�sers use conformity to their advantage. By telling us how many people switched their car insurance, an insurance company is sugges�ng that these other people know something we do not. If everyone else discovered cheaper insurance, perhaps we should join them and switch too; informa�onal influence is at work. Another adver�ser might show us a lot of happy people wearing a par�cular brand of jeans, sugges�ng that if we want to fit in we should buy and wear these jeans. When we buy what others do to be liked or accepted, we are conforming due to norma�ve influence. There are �mes when we are more suscep�ble to conformity pressures. For example, individuals are more likely to go along with the crowd when they are in a good mood (Tong, Tan, Latheef, Selamat, & Tan, 2008) and are more involved with the topic at hand (Huang & Min, 2007). Norma�ve influence can help self-managed teams in businesses to manage themselves. Team members who feel they belong and are commi�ed to the team can show greater produc�vity (Stewart, Courtright, & Barrick, 2012).

Test Yourself

Click on the ques�on below to reveal the answer.

How are acceptance and compliance related to norma�ve and informa�onal influence? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

When we conform because of informa�onal influence we are more likely to show acceptance, not just compliance. Compliance is more likely with norma�ve influence because we are going along with the crowd to be accepted, but not necessarily because we believe the crowd is right.

Minority Influence

So far, this chapter has discussed the ways in which norms can have a powerful influence on the individual, causing them to go along with what everyone else is doing. But individuals are not powerless. When an individual goes against the majority, that ac�on can influence the majority. In the 1957 film 12 Angry Men, one juror persuades the other 11 jurors to his side of thinking. While, at the beginning of the film, he is the only one who believes in the innocence of the accused, by the end they all believe the young man accused of the crime is not guilty. The majority is more likely to find a minority viewpoint persuasive if the minority viewpoint is dis�nct and the posi�on is held consistently. When a minority holds one point of difference from the group but agrees with the majority on other points, this creates dis�nc�veness. If a friend shares your beliefs concerning school reform except for the use of student achievement for teacher evalua�on, you might be more willing to entertain that friend’s perspec�ve and poten�ally be convinced by his arguments (Bohner, Frank, & Erb, 1998). Consistently held posi�ons are also more persuasive. If your friend waivered in his beliefs about teacher evalua�ons, you would be less willing to hear his arguments (Moscovici & Lage, 1976). Minori�es can also become more persuasive when there are defec�ons from the minority. If your friend were to convince someone who used to agree with you to now agree with his line of thinking, you would be more likely to also change your opinion (Clark, 2001).

Whether or not minori�es actually lead the majority to change beliefs, minori�es do create greater crea�vity and complexity in the thinking of the majority (Legrenzi, Butera, Mugny, & Perez, 1991; Nemeth, Mayseless, Sherman, & Brown, 1990). The alterna�ve perspec�ve of the minority causes the majority to consider other viewpoints and approaches to an issue. The minority viewpoint allows them to think about their ideas from other angles they may not have accounted for before. When minori�es do change the opinion of the majority, that changed belief tends to be more stable and more resistant to future change (Mar�n, Hewstone, & Mar�n, 2008). In this way, minori�es perform a service for the majority, even if they do not convince anyone in the majority to their way of thinking.

Having a group move from agreeing with you on an issue to disagreeing with you is an unse�ling experience. Individuals who began in the majority and maintain their opinion as the rest of the group joins the minority opinion tend to have hos�le feelings toward the group. On the other hand, those who began in the minority and have a group adopt their opinion tend to like the group more and expect posi�ve interac�ons with the group in the future (Prislin, Limbert, & Bauer, 2000). Being in the minority is an uncomfortable experience that can improve if others come to see things as we do.

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Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

When are minori�es more persuasive? In other words, what quali�es in the minority make it more likely to persuade the majority to change? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

Minori�es who offer a dis�nc�ve viewpoint, are consistent in their viewpoint, and gain defec�ons from the majority are most persuasive.

Without convincing members of the majority to their side do minori�es do anything to or for the majority by holding a minority view? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

Minori�es create more crea�vity and complexity in the majority, even when the majority does not change its viewpoint.

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The impact of Stanley Milgram’s experiment.

Stanley Milgram

Cri�cal Thinking Ques�ons

What mo�vated Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment?

What is a contemporary example of how authority influences behavior?


We are required to display obedience on a daily basis. For example, drivers are expected to stop at red lights and pedestrians must wait for a signal before crossing an intersec�on.

8.2 Obedience to Authority It began like many other research studies. Having answered a newspaper adver�sement, male research par�cipants entered the research laboratory and were told they were going to be part of a study of performance and punishment. Each par�cipant was paired with another par�cipant, and both were told they would each be taking on the role of teacher or the role of learner. These roles were chosen randomly, from li�le slips of paper in a hat. The learner was brought to a separate room. Electrodes were connected to the learner’s arm and the learner was strapped to a chair. Learners were told, in the presence of the teacher, the shocks would be painful but they would cause no permanent damage. The teachers returned with the experimenter to the other room and were told they would be teaching the learner a series of words, using electrical shocks to punish the leaner for wrong answers.

As the teacher and learner worked through the word list, the teacher increased the shock level by 15 volts for every wrong answer, as instructed by the experimenter. At first the experiment was uneven�ul, but at 75 volts the learner u�ered an “Ugh!” a�er the shock. A�er several more of these sorts of verbaliza�ons from the learner at the 150-volt level, the leaner said “Ugh! Experimenter! That’s all. Get me out of here. I told you I had heart trouble. My heart’s star�ng to bother me now. Get me out of here please. My heart’s star�ng to bother me. I refuse to go on. Let me out” (Milgram, 1974, p. 56). When the teacher asked the experimenter what to do, the experimenter replied that he should go on. A�er that, if the teacher con�nued the learner protested un�l the 330- volt level. A�er the 330-volt level the learner fell silent, not providing any further protests, but also not answering any ques�ons. The highest shock level possible was 450, a level denoted with XXX, past the denota�on of Danger: Severe Shock.

Before the study began, psychology undergraduates, adults, and psychiatrists were asked to predict how far on the shock generator the teachers would go. They predicted that only 1 in 1,000 would go all the way to the end of the shock generator, with about 4% even making it to the 300-volt level (Milgram, 1974). In the study, 62.5% of the par�cipants (25/40) went to the end. Many teachers protested along the way, showing signs of extreme stress, but con�nued to the end. None of the teachers dropped out before the 135-volt level, and 80% con�nued to give shocks un�l the 285-volt level, having given 18 shocks and heard 14 separate protests by the learner. What the par�cipants did not know was that the learner was not ge�ng any electrical shocks; he was working with the experimenter, his “random” assignment as learner was rigged, and his verbaliza�ons throughout the study were recordings. The study was designed to inves�gate obedience, and the primary interest of the researcher was whether the par�cipant (the teacher) would obey, even when it meant harming another person.

Milgram undertook his study, in part, to try to be�er understand the events that occurred in Nazi Germany, where many ordinary people went against their own moral codes and their own ethics and par�cipated in the degrada�on, imprisonment, and killing of Jewish civilians and other innocent people (Milgram, 1963). Milgram argued that one reason for that behavior was obedience. But could obedience be so powerful? Milgram’s study suggests it is. Even given immoral orders to con�nue to hurt another person, people tend to obey. Many, including Stanley Milgram, the researcher, found these results surprising (Milgram, 1963). The findings of this study suggest that people are willing to harm another person if told to do so by an authority. They may protest, express disapproval, and ask the authority figure to let them stop, but when the authority figure says they should con�nue, they will.

Obedience is a deeply engrained tendency–one that we are taught early on in life. Most of the �me, obedience is a posi�ve behavior. Driving your car through an intersec�on at a green light, you hope that those stopped for the red light on the cross street will obey traffic laws and stop. Obedience to authority prevents many the�s, murders, and kidnappings. In fact, we may wish for more obedience in regards to violent and nonviolent crimes. But, as Milgram showed, and as history has taught us, there is also a dark side to obedience. This dark side can be clearly seen in the events at Jonestown. Jim Jones demanded obedience from his followers and, in the end, received ul�mate obedience from many–they killed themselves on his command.

Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

In Milgram’s study, did most of the par�cipants obey or did most disobey? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

In Milgram’s original study more than half, 62.4% or 25/40, obeyed and gave powerful electrical shocks to an innocent vic�m.

Were the findings of Milgram’s study expected by people asked to predict the results? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

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Expand Your Knowledge: Zimbardo on Evil

Phillip Zimbardo described the social psychological factors in destruc�ve behaviors in his book The Lucifer Effect. Although obedience is only a part of the explana�on, if you are interested in learning more about why people act in ways that hurt others, read this book. Zimbardo also wrote two shorter pieces on this topic: a chapter in an edited book �tled The Social Psychology of Good and Evil: Understanding Our Capacity for Kindness and Cruelty and a short ar�cle for the magazine Eye on Psi Chi. The book chapter explores what Zimbardo calls a situa�onist perspec�ve on evil.

Zimbardo, P. G. (2008). The Lucifer effect: Understanding how good people turn evil. New York: Random House. Informa�on on the Lucifer Effect is available here (h�p:// .

No. People told about the study but not the results predicted very few would obey to the end.

Social Psychology in Depth: Bad Apples or Vinegar Barrels?

When we hear about some of the bad events that happen in our world, we o�en describe the perpetrators as “bad people.” Yet prominent psychologist Philip Zimbardo argues that we apply such terms too liberally, failing to recognize the capacity for evil that we all hold, given the right set of circumstances (Zimbardo, 2004; 2008).

Take, for example, the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal. In 2004, pictures began to emerge of U.S. prison guards (Army reservists) at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq abusing the Iraqi prisoners. The images were graphic. Prisoners were shown naked, in humilia�ng poses, on leashes, and being threatened by dogs. Our ini�al ins�nct is to say the guards were bad people–bad apples who should never have been allowed into the Army (Shermer, 2007). In making such a conclusion we make a fundamental a�ribu�on error, ignoring situa�onal factors and blaming disposi�onal factors for behavior.

Milgram’s experiment shows us how powerful situa�onal factors can be. Normal, ordinary Americans were willing to inflict great harm on another person simply because of the orders of a man in a white lab coat. If such behavior can be elicited in a rela�vely short period in a largely innocuous psychology laboratory situa�on, might even more brutal behavior be expected over a longer period in a frightening and unfamiliar scenario?

Despite focusing on the situa�on in explaining evil events, Zimbardo does not advocate excusing bad behavior. Understanding the situa�on that brought about the behavior does not condone it. Those who do bad things should be punished for what they have done. But without some a�en�on to the situa�on, more people will engage in the behaviors, crea�ng more pain and suffering in the world.

Zimbardo (2004) writes:

‘While a few bad apples might spoil the barrel (filled with good fruit/people), a barrel filled with vinegar will always transform sweet cucumbers into sour pickles–regardless of the best inten�ons, resilience, and gene�c nature of those cucumbers.’ So, does it make more sense to spend our resources on a�empts to iden�fy, isolate, and destroy the few bad apples or to learn how vinegar works so that we can teach cucumbers how to avoid undesirable vinegar barrels? (p. 47)

What Predicts Obedience?

Milgram (1974) completed a variety of related experiments to learn what factors contribute to obedience. Unlike many studies in social psychology, Milgram used community members for his research, not college undergraduates. His par�cipants were from a variety of educa�on levels, ranging from not comple�ng high school to having obtained doctoral degrees, and varied from age 20 to age 50. Milgram’s original studies used only male par�cipants; when Milgram expanded his study to include women, though, he found no appreciable differences between men and women (Shanab & Yahya, 1977). Age does not seem to ma�er in level of obedience in this type of study either. Children aged 6 to 16 years were about as obedient in a replica�on of Milgram’s study, with no differences based on age (Shanab & Yahya, 1977).

Proximity of the Vic�m

Milgram found that the proximity between the learner (the vic�m) and the teacher (the par�cipant) was an important factor in obedience. In one study, the learner was in another room and had no communica�on with the teacher, except in providing answers and, at the 300- and 315-volt level, banging on the wall. In this instance, obedience was raised only to 65% (26 out of 40 par�cipants) from 62.5% in the first study. In another study, the learner was in the same room as the teacher. In another, the learner and teacher were next to one another. In this second experiment the learner had to touch a shock plate every �me he got an answer wrong. He eventually refused to touch the plate and the teacher had to physically move his hand and force it down on the shock plate. In these studies, Milgram found that the closer the learner was to the teacher, the lower the obedience. When the learner was far removed, obedience was very high; more than half of the par�cipants obeyed the experimenter. When the learner was in the same room as the teacher, obedience declined to 40%, and it further declined to 30% when physical contact was required. When someone is ordered to hurt another, the closer the vic�m is the lower the likelihood of obedience.

Would we harm those we know well? In one of Milgram’s studies, par�cipants brought a friend along. The friend was enlisted as the experimenter’s helper and fulfilled the role of learner, including giving all the protests the confederate learner had offered in the original study. The researchers found much lower

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Expand Your Knowledge: Video Clips of Obedience

The Heroic Imagina�on project (h�p://heroicimagina� /situa�onal-awareness/social-influence-forces /obedience-to-authority/)

provides an interes�ng set of clips on obedience. The collec�on includes some archival footage from Milgram’s study and videos of obedience in situa�ons where the authority figure had li�le authority, including an amusing Candid Camera clip asking people at a lunch counter to follow the direc�ons of a light for when they could and could not eat.

obedience in this condi�on. Only 15% (3 out of 20) of par�cipants were willing to go all the way to the end of the shock generator when their friend protested (Rochat & Modigliani, 1997).

Proximity of the Authority

In another set of studies, the distance between the experimenter (the authority figure) and the teacher was varied. In one study, the experimenter provided direc�ons by telephone or through a prerecorded message. When the authority figure was distant, the par�cipants were less likely to obey. The legi�macy of the authority was also varied. Milgram moved the study to an office building in Bridgeport, Connec�cut, out of the Yale University laboratory he had been using. Par�cipants believed they were par�cipa�ng in a study for the “Research Associates of Bridgeport” and saw no connec�on of the study to pres�gious Yale University. In this study obedience declined some, from 65% to 48%. Other researchers found similar results with an authority figure without legi�mate authority (Mantell, 1971; Rosenhan, 1969). The implica�ons are frightening: nearly half of par�cipants s�ll obey immoral orders from authority figures who have very li�le legi�macy.

The appearance of authority can be enough to convince us to obey. Outside of the laboratory se�ng, this concept was demonstrated in a study of nurses in a hospital in the 1960s. In this study, a physician, who the nurses on duty were not familiar with, called on the phone and asked them to give a pa�ent what they would have known to be an unsafe level of a drug. The study found 95% of the nurses obeyed before being intercepted on their way to give the drug (Hofling, Brotzman, Dalrymple, Graves, & Pierce, 1966). If a security guard asked you to stand on the other side of a bus stop sign, would you do it? Even though the request was not part of the security guard’s domain, most people asked by a uniformed person to do a simple act, did so (Bickman, 1974).

Compliant or Defiant Others

When groups of people were part of the study, Milgram found that compliant others led to compliant par�cipants, and defiant others led to defiant par�cipants. In these studies Milgram had confederates who appeared to be other par�cipants do a variety of teaching tasks. In one study the par�cipant watched as a confederate gave shocks. In this study 90% of par�cipants were fully obedient. In another study two confederates and one par�cipant were assigned to give shocks. At the 150-volt level, when the learner makes his first long protest, the confederate giving the shocks refused to con�nue. The second confederate was then given the job of giving shocks. At the 210-volt level this second confederate joined in the protest, ge�ng up from his chair near the shock generator and refusing to con�nue the study. At that point the actual par�cipant was asked to con�nue the study on his own. When the two other teachers (the confederates) quit, obedience declined significantly, to 27.5% (Milgram, 1965).


Culture can also contribute to obedience. In the United States, independence is a dominant value and parents tend to pass on those values to children through childrearing. For example, researchers found that when mothers encourage their children to recount a story, U.S. children are encouraged to describe events that illustrate their own opinions and quali�es, while Chinese children are encouraged to describe ac�vi�es that they did with others or that relate them to others (Wang, 2006). Because social harmony is highly valued in interdependent cultures like Chinese culture, children are more socialized to be obedient (Xiao, 1999). Even within cultures there are varia�ons in the value of obedience. Researchers find that middle-class parents in the United States are more likely to be concerned with emphasizing independence in their children, while working-class parents tend to focus more on obedience (Gecas & Nye, 1974; Xiao, 2000). In cultures where authority is highly valued, we are more likely to see the kind of destruc�ve obedience that Milgram studied–obedience without cri�cal examina�on–that is evidenced in genocide and other violent human acts (Staub, 1999).

Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

What effect did the closeness of the learner/vic�m have on obedience in Milgram’s study? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

The closer the teacher was to the learner/vic�m the lower the obedience.

In situa�ons of obedience do we conform to the ac�ons of others in their obedience to authority? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

Yes. In studies where confederates posing as par�cipants also obeyed, the par�cipant obeyed as well. In studies where confederates posing as par�cipants disobeyed, fewer par�cipants obeyed the authority figure.


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William Warren/Science Fac�on/SuperStock

In an act of civil disobedience, Vietnam veterans protest against the war.

In Milgram’s original study, 35% of par�cipants disobeyed the authority figure and discon�nued the study. There are �mes in life when disobedience is a more just and moral choice than obedience. Can we predict who will disobey? In many ways, obedient and disobedient par�cipants are indis�nguishable. In later studies on obedience, no difference in stress levels were found–all par�cipants showed physical and psychological markers of stress as the study con�nued. As par�cipants con�nued to be obedient, they tended to reach a point of compliant resigna�on, offering fewer and shorter disagreements and con�nuing to engage in the behavior. However, when the amount of �me people were part of the study was taken into account (disobedient par�cipants obviously finished more quickly), the number of disagreements were no different between those who con�nued to be obedient and those that disobeyed. No differences in personality were found between obedient and disobedient par�cipants (Bocchiaro & Zimbardo, 2010; Bocchiaro, Zimbardo, & Van Lange, 2012).

Disobedience tends to occur at a cri�cal juncture. In studies using Milgram’s paradigm, par�cipants who disobeyed tended to do so when the confederate first protested or when the confederate’s protests changed in content or tone (Meeus & Raaijmakers, 1986; Packer, 2008). A�er disobeying, most par�cipants believed they did what others would have done. In other words, they did not see their behavior as unusual, showing false consensus, and were surprised that anyone would have con�nued to obey. Par�cipants reported they made a quick decision when they chose to disobey; for some it was a moral or an ethical decision. These par�cipants men�oned that it would not be right or fair to con�nue when the other person is clearly suffering. Other par�cipants worried about the other person, or felt empathy for his/her suffering. Others simply did not see the point of con�nuing within the situa�on (Bocchiaro & Zimbardo, 2010). Overall, it is difficult to predict who will disobey and who will obey authority in these types of situa�ons. It appears decisions are made quickly at cri�cal points within a situa�on, and are made for a variety of reasons. These reasons are not reflec�ve of personality differences, or differences in reac�vity to stress. Future research on obedience is needed to help us be�er predict disobedience.

One type of disobedience that occurs in response to poten�ally illegi�mate authority is legal disobedience. Legal disobedience may take the form of conscien�ous objec�on, civil disobedience, or outright rebellion against a government or leader (Herr, 1974; Raz, 1975). This form of disobedience occurred as people in communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe overthrew their governments in 1989 and in a variety of Arab countries in 2011, which came to be known as the Arab Spring.

Conscien�ous objec�ons and civil disobedience helped free India from rule by the Bri�sh Empire, bring about civil rights in the United States in the 1960s, and help end the Vietnam war in the 1970s. In such circumstances, people may feel an en�tlement or a responsibility to disobey as an act of ci�zenship (Ra�ner, Yagil, & Sherman-Segal, 2003). In fact, people most commi�ed to democracy are o�en those who are most likely to disobey in the face of poten�ally illegi�mate authority (Passini & Morselli, 2011). For these people democracy provides both an opportunity and a responsibility to disobey when democracy is threated. This disobedience prevents authoritarian governments to take hold, preserving or bringing about democra�c rule.

Test Yourself

Click on the ques�on below to reveal the answer.

How are those who disobey different from those who obey authority? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

For the most part they are not different. There is no difference in personality or in the distress they show or the protests they make.

Ethics of Obedience Research

The par�cipants in Milgram’s studies underwent an experience that was very stressful. According to an observer of the study:

I observed a mature and ini�ally poised businessman enter the laboratory smiling and confident. Within 20 minutes he was reduced to a twitching, stu�ering wreck, who was rapidly approaching a point of nervous collapse. He constantly pulled on his earlobe, and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and mu�ered: “Oh God, let’s stop it.” And yet he con�nued to respond to every word of the experimenter, and obeyed to the end (Milgram, 1963, p. 377).

When entering into an experimental situa�on, research par�cipants put themselves into the hands of the experimenter. A�er Milgram’s study, other researchers asked if placing unsuspec�ng people into these kinds of situa�ons was ethical. The main problems iden�fied were that par�cipants had a very stressful experience, and that they would have to live with the knowledge of the lengths to which they would obey, all within a situa�on based on trust (Baumrind, 1964).

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Milgram (1964) responded to these cri�cisms by no�ng that the findings of his studies and the reac�ons of the par�cipants were unexpected. When he asked psychologists and others what to expect, they did not believe par�cipants would go all the way to the end of the shock generator and be as obedient as they were. At the end of the experimental session, the experimenter reunited the confederate with the par�cipant so the par�cipant could see that he was not harmed in any way. The experimenter was suppor�ve of whatever decision the par�cipant made in terms of obedience.

The study involved a great deal of decep�on. The par�cipants were lied to about the purpose of the study, about the complicity of the other par�cipant, and about what was actually happening. Cri�cs of the study argued that this type of decep�on may have an impact on the par�cipants themselves, as they feel duped by the researcher. This form of decep�on in psychological experiments can poten�ally impact the general public’s view of psychological research. When researchers use decep�on a great deal, the public may become suspicious of all research studies, and wary of par�cipa�ng in research, even research that does not in fact involve decep�on. Milgram (1974) contacted par�cipants a�er their par�cipa�on to ask how they felt about the study. The vast majority said they were glad or very glad to have been part of the study (83.7%). Only 1.3% of the par�cipants reported being sorry or very sorry to have par�cipated. Almost three fourths of par�cipants reported learning something of personal importance.

Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

What were some ethical issues with Milgram’s study? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

Par�cipants in Milgram’s study experienced a great deal of distress and were deceived about the nature of the study in a situa�on of trust. In the end, they may have learned something unpleasant about their own tendencies that they would have to live with.

Did Milgram find any long-term nega�ve effects in the par�cipants who were part of his study? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�

For the most part, no. In follow-up work he found that most people were happy to have been part of the study.

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Leaders can use different strategies and tac�cs to achieve goals.

8.3 Leadership The influences of conformity and obedience sway our beliefs and ac�ons. Cult leader Jim Jones expected obedience from his followers and used conformity to keep his followers in line. Leaders–good and bad–make a difference in what people think and do, contribu�ng to or breaking from conformity. Obedience to leaders has led to some of the most inspiring and heartbreaking events in history. Leadership involves influencing a group and its members to contribute to the goals of the group and coordina�ng and guiding those efforts (Kaiser, Hogan, & Craig, 2008). If leaders are good leaders who make good decisions, then obedience is appropriate.

What makes a good leader? When are leaders most effec�ve? A number of models for describing types of leadership exist. One model offers two main categories of leadership: transac�onal and transforma�onal leadership. In transac�onal leadership, leaders can lead by offering an exchange of rewards for effort from followers. By contrast, some leaders offer their followers a common purpose and ask that individual interest be put aside so the group can work together toward that goal. This leadership style is called transforma�onal leadership (Bass, 1985). An addi�onal type of leadership, called laissez-faire leadership, is characterized by a hands-off approach, with the leader simply allowing the followers to do what they would like without substan�al input from the leader (Yammarino, Spangler, & Bass, 1993).

Transac�onal leaders focus on con�ngent rewards and ac�ve management. These leaders work out agreements with their followers that will sa�sfy both par�es. People obey transac�onal leaders because they desire the rewards the transac�onal leader can provide. Con�ngent rewards are provided once the followers have fulfilled their end of the bargain.

This type of leadership may also involve ac�ve management, where the leader monitors what the follower is doing to redirect, if needed, and enforce the rules that have been agreed upon. Transac�onal leaders do not always ac�vely manage their followers. At �mes, they take a passive management approach, intervening when problems are brought to their a�en�on (Bass, 1997). These leaders do not necessarily inspire their followers, but they do get the job done. Many leaders of businesses, coaches of sports teams, and poli�cians would best be described as transac�onal leaders.

Transforma�onal leaders are characterized by charisma, inspira�onal mo�va�on, intellectual s�mula�on, and individualized considera�on. Charisma, in this context, means influence toward an ideal that can be accomplished through the leader displaying convic�on about the goal, presen�ng and taking stands on important issues, and emphasizing trust. When leaders clearly ar�culate a vision, provide encouragement, and show op�mism, they display inspira�onal mo�va�on. Nelson Mandela, an�-apartheid leader and former president of South Africa, was such a transforma�onal leader, as was Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II. Intellectual s�mula�on within transforma�onal leadership is modeled by leaders in their welcoming of new ideas and perspec�ves. Finally, transforma�onal leaders tend to focus on individual gi�s, abili�es, and needs, offering individual considera�on for followers (Bass, 1997). Along with these quali�es, transforma�onal leaders are generally self-confident and are able to handle pressure and uncertainty well. Op�mis�c and self-determined, such leaders are able to cast a vision for their followers (van Eeden, Cilliers, & van Deventer, 2008). Not all transforma�onal leaders bring about peace and reconcilia�on. Jim Jones would likely fit in the category of transforma�onal leadership. Jones a�racted his followers to his vision for a color-blind world where people worked together to create a modern-day utopia.

People differ in what they consider to be ideal in a leader. Because of past experiences, values, and personality differences, people develop schemas for what they consider good leadership quali�es and these schemas are rela�vely stable over �me (Epitropaki & Mar�n, 2004; Keller, 1999; Keller, 2003; Kriger & Seng, 2005). These schemas are called implicit leadership theories. Individuals who show quali�es that people expect in leaders–those that fit the implicit leadership theories people hold–are more likely to be viewed as leaders (Melwani, Mueller, & Overbeck, 2012). Interac�ons between a follower and a leader will be largely impacted by the follower’s implicit leadership theories (Epitropaki & Mar�n, 2005; Fraser & Lord, 1988). Some leaders may be considered bad leaders not because they intend to do any harm to their followers or because they are inherently bad leaders, but because the implicit leadership theories of the followers do not match the leadership quali�es and ac�ons of the leader (Peus, Braun, & Frey, 2012).

Success of a leader can be defined in a variety of ways. Successful leaders might be those who have helped their followers to reach a goal (Kaiser & Hogan, 2007). Even without reaching or moving toward obtaining a goal, leaders might be defined as successful if their group is sa�sfied or mo�vated or, simply, if followers rate the leader as successful (Tsui, 1984). Looking from a strict monetary perspec�ve, 14% of the variance in the financial results of a business is due to the leadership provided by the CEO (Joyce, Nohria, & Robertson, 2003). Although we o�en think of transforma�onal leaders as be�er leaders, generally there are no overall differences in effec�veness of transforma�onal versus transac�onal leaders (Judge, Piccolo, & Ilies, 2004).

Test Yourself

Click on each ques�on below to reveal the answer.

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A leader who seeks to inspire followers and cast a vision for where those followers might go is using what type of leadership? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover#)

Transforma�onal leadership.

Joe believes a leader should be kind and compassionate to followers. Marcus thinks leaders should be clear about expecta�ons but uninvolved in the lives of their followers. Joe and Marcus are different in what way? (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover#)

Joe and Marcus are different in their implicit leadership theories, they have different schemas regarding the appropriate quali�es of leaders.


Conformity affects our everyday behavior. We might follow what everyone else is doing or what we think others would like us to do. We might follow because the crowd seems to know something we do not know, or because we want acceptance from the crowd. But minority groups can also influence behavior, par�cularly when they maintain a consistent, dis�nc�ve posi�on. Overall, people tend to be obedient, a posi�ve tendency that allows for a well-ordered and safe society. But rates of obedience are o�en s�ll high even when it involves harming others, as found in Stanley Milgram’s famous study of obedience. Obedience is even more common when the authority figure is close, the vic�m is distant, and others are also obeying. Milgram’s studies were a�acked for being unethical, as his par�cipants were put under extreme stress and were deceived within a context where trust is important. Authority figures or leaders come in a variety of styles, showing effec�veness in their roles depending on expecta�ons of followers and the situa�on in which they lead.

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Chapter Summary


When we do as others do, we are conforming to the behavior of the group. At �mes our conformity is due to what we believe others want us to do. In this instance we are influenced by injunc�ve norms. Descrip�ve norms refer to what most people do, not necessarily what most people approve of. When we conform we may do so to be liked or accepted by the group. Norma�ve influence produces this type of conformity. When we conform to be liked or accepted we may act as others do without believing that ac�on is right; we show compliance to the social norm. Informa�onal influence brings about conformity because we believe the group knows something we do not. At such �mes we may act and believe as the group does, showing acceptance of the social norm. Majori�es are powerful, but minori�es can have an influence too. Minori�es with dis�nc�ve posi�ons, that are consistent in their posi�on, and that gain defec�ons from the majority are most persuasive.

Obedience to Authority

Stanley Milgram completed a study of obedience where par�cipants were asked to follow the orders of an experimenter despite the protests of a vic�m. In his study, 62.5% of par�cipants were fully obedient. When Milgram varied the distance of the authority figure from the par�cipant, obedience declined as the authority figure’s presence was less prominent. The vic�m’s presence led to a decrease in obedience. When the legi�macy of the authority figure was lessened, obedience was lower, although s�ll quite high. More recent research has shown that obedience has not declined significantly. Disobedience is hard to predict on the individual level, although some situa�onal factors do predict when people are likely to disobey. Milgram’s study of obedience placed par�cipants in a situa�on of great stress in an environment of trust. Milgram’s follow-ups with his par�cipants indicated that most were happy to have par�cipated and had no long-term ill effects from the study.


Leadership styles may involve a transac�on of rewards for effort, known as transac�onal leadership, or inspira�on toward a common goal and purpose, known as transforma�onal leadership. Laissez-faire leadership involves leadership without substan�al input from the leader. Followers have par�cular ways of thinking about leadership, influencing how they evaluate leaders. Generally, leaders do ma�er and a variety of leadership styles are poten�ally effec�ve.

Cri�cal Thinking Ques�ons

1. Have you been in a situa�on where you changed your behavior, or observed others changing their behavior, due to conformity? What was that situa�on like?

2. In your own life, where might you have seen injunc�ve norms and descrip�ve norms?

3. If you held a minority opinion in a group and wanted to convince the rest of the group to join you in that opinion, what might you do to convince them?

4. Milgram inves�gated the closeness and legi�macy of the authority figure, the closeness to and iden�ty of the vic�m, and the ac�ons of others in rela�on to degree of obedience. What other factors might influence obedience?

5. If you had been part of Milgram’s study of obedience, what do you think you would have done?

6. What do you think about the ethics of Milgram’s studies of obedience? Do you think they should have been done, or are the ethical implica�ons too great?

7. How might you describe your own implicit leadership theories? What effect have these had on your interac�ons with leaders?

8. The chapter begins with a discussion of the mass suicide of the people at Jonestown. Based on what you now know about conformity and obedience what do you think could have been done to prevent this tragedy or others like it?

Key Terms

Click on each key term to reveal the defini�on.

acceptance (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

When both ac�ons and beliefs are in line with the social norm.

compliance (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

When ac�ons are in line with the social norm, but belief remains dis�nct.

conformity (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

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Going along with a group in ac�ons or beliefs.

descrip�ve norms (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

Norms describing what most people do.

dis�nc�veness (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

That which gives minori�es power despite their minority status. This occurs when one point of differences from the group is held by a minority, but the minority agrees with the majority on other points.

implicit leadership theories (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

The schemas people have for good leadership quali�es.

informa�onal influence (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

A type of social influence toward conformity that occurs when the individual believes the crowd possesses knowledge that the individual does not.

injunc�ve norms (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

Norms for what is either approved of or disapproved of.

laissez-faire leadership (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

Characterized by a hands-off approach, with the leader simply allowing the followers to do what they would like without substan�al input from the leader.

leadership (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

Influencing a group and its members to contribute to the goals of the group and coordina�ng and guiding those efforts.

norma�ve influence (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

A type of social influence toward conformity that occurs when the individual conforms to avoid social rejec�on and to be liked or accepted by the group.

transac�onal leadership (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

Leadership involving offering an exchange of rewards for effort from followers.

transforma�onal leadership (h�p://�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/books/AUPSY301.14.1/sec�ons/cover/boo

Leadership where the leader offers followers a common purpose and asks that individual interests be put aside so the group can work together toward that goal.

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