Abnormal Psychology

Social Norms
Explain Social Learning Theory, making reference
to two relevant studies
Discuss the use of compliance techniques
Evaluate research on conformity to group norms
Discuss factors influencing conformity
Define social norm. What do they do?
• According to Smith and Mackie (2007) – a
generally accepted way of thinking, feeling, or
behaving that most people in a group agree
on and endorse as right and proper.
• Norms:
– Provide for appraisal of true/false and
– Regulate behaviours
– Make social life predictable
Explain observational learning.
• Variant of behaviouristic learning – extended to
observing others and learning from their
consequences. A form of vicarious learning – we
learn by imitating the behaviours of others
(models) and anticipate the same consequences
they elicited.
• Reinforcement:
– Is cognitive rather than direct – increases our ability to
predict the future.
– Reinforcement is not needed for learning but for the
performance of what has been learned.
Outline the cognitive processes
involved in Social Learning Theory.
• Motivation – we behave according to outcome
• Attention – we focus awareness on a model
and their actions and consequences. The more
attractive, distinctive, or powerful the model
the more we attend to them.
• Coding and memory – model behaviour needs
to be encoded to allow for immediate
imitation or delayed imitation
Give an example from your own
experience of abstract modelling.
• Abstract modelling – Learning of abstract
skills or underlying principles that guide
behaviour and consequence through
observation of models.
How does our sense of our effectiveness affect our motivation?
What impact do you see this having on the classroom setting?
• We are more motivated to behave in a given
manner if we believe we will be successful or
effective in gaining our anticipated outcome. We
are more likely to imitate a model in a behaviour
in which we anticipate we will be effective.
• In a classroom setting, if a student believes that
the task is beyond their capability or they
anticipate poor performance, incomplete
modelling will occur or motivation will decrease.
Social Learning Theory
• Abstract modelling, observational learning,
self-efficacy, deferred imitation and vicarious
reinforcement all show us how normative
standards for behaviour are internalized. –
Social Cognitive Theory
“Our behaviour is largely regulated by our beliefs and expectancies rather
than…the external environment” Do you agree or disagree with this
statement? Explain your point of view referencing your personal experience
and your prior knowledge from the course.
• Do you sing in the shower? Do you pick your
nose? Do you behave differently when you are
alone? FARTS!!!!
Social Learning Theory - Bandura
• Type – covert observation experiment
• Aims – to determine whether children will play more aggressively with a
doll after observing adult models play aggressively.
• Methods – In the control condition, children were shown a video of adults
playing with a “Bobo” doll aggressively by throwing it around and kicking
it. In the model-reward condition, the adults behaved aggressively toward
the doll and a second adult entered the frame and rewarded them with a
soft drink. In the model-punished condition, the adult behaved
aggressively toward the doll and was scolded and spanked by another
• After viewing, children were taken into a second room of toys including
the Bobo doll and their play was observed.
• Conclusions – control and model-reward conditions resulted in equal
levels of aggressive play. Model-punished condition showed significantly
lower aggression. When asked to repeat the aggressive play for a reward,
all children acted more aggressively.
Bobo doll experiment
• Demand characteristics – were the children being
authentically aggressive to the doll or were they
just mimicking the adult models according to the
expectations of the researchers?
• Internal validity – did the operational definition
of aggressive play accurately reflect aggression or
was this an a priori assumption
• Natural validity – it’s just a doll – it doesn’t have
feelings, it doesn’t cry, it doesn’t say stop
Do you think the study supported the theory that aggression is a
learned rather than an innate behaviour?
• Do infants perform the task and grow into its
meaning or do they behave according to their
disposition or urge?
Explain social learning theory, making
reference to two relevant studies
• 1) Bandura’s “Bobo” doll experiment (1965)
• Aggressive play was observed and learned by children
by just observing rewards and punishments. Aggressive
play was elicited with expectancies of rewards.
Therefore learning occurred without rewards and
punishments but they were required for performance.
• 2) Gergely et al (2002)
• Children did not simply imitate the behaviour of the
adult models (turning on the light with their , they
attributed a reason to the behaviour and copied the
reasoning, not just the behaviour.
Sherif 1935
• To investigate the effect of group setting on responses to
ambiguous situations
• Participants viewed an optical illusion involving a lit object that
would be stationary but appear to move. Participants made 100
judgements regarding how much the object moved. Personal norms
were generated through these estimates. Participants were then
asked to form group judgements by announcing their
interpretations in order. The alterations in judgements were then
compared and analysed.
• Group estimated settled around a group norm that varied from
other group norms and from the individual norms. Subsequent
individual estimated reflected the new group norms.
• To what extent were these authentic groups? Are these natural
ambiguous settings that we would be likely to encounter in real
Asch 1951
• To investigate the impact of group influence on conformity in
unambiguous situations.
• Participants were asked to compare a single line length to a set of
three lines. In the control condition, participants were responding
aloud and alone. In the experiment condition, participants were
responding among a group of confederates who announced their
responses out loud first. In 12 of the 18 group trials confederates
announced incorrect responses.
• Participants conformed to the wrong responses 37% of the time
and 76% conformed at least once.
• There are some ethical concerns with deception. Will all
participants conform for the same reason? Why, if this is a powerful
situational determinant, were conformant responses not 100% of
the time? What would influence a participant to break from the
group some of the time and not all of the time?
Abrams et al. 1990
• To investigate the impact of perceived ingroup influence on
• Participants were asked to compare line lengths to another
set of lines in groups. In one condition, the participants
were told that the other group members were fellow
psychology student and in the second condition,
participants were told that the fellow group respondants
were history of civilization students.
• 100% of participants conformed at least once in the
ingroup condition, 50% in the outgroup condition.
• Would there be a genuine perception of ingroup sentiment
from simply enrolling in the same field of study?
Describe the three forms of influence
on conformity identified in the reading
• Informational influence - when we take another’s
views as our own for the purpose of gaining evidence
we perceive as valid or useful. Important for reducing
ambiguity and based on our need to be right.
• Normative influence – when we allow ourselves to be
influenced to meet the expectations of others, avoid
disapproval or rejection, and be liked by others.
• Referent informational influence – when we conform
out of a need to belong to important ingroups as part
of maintaining our desired social identities. We
conform more to groups we identify with and want to
belong to.
How does the study by Deutch and Girard exhibit both
informational and normative influence?
• College students would alter their answers
and conform to the authoritative result
showing informational influence
• College students would lie about their
unwritten answers to conform to the norm of
the actual estimate
How is referent informational influence different
from informational and normative influence?
• People conform not to other group members
(normative) but to the group norm.
• They use others as a source of information on
what the norm is rather than the actual
answer (informational).
What dispositional traits are associated with higher
levels of conformity?
• Dispositional traits for conformity:
– Low self esteem
– High need for social approval
– Anxiety
– Perception of low status
Research and give an example of ONE study showing the impact
of group size on conformity. Give the author, date and
conclusions of the study.
• http://gpi.sagepub.com/content/8/4/331.short
Define risky shift. Explain how social comparison theory
and social identity theory account for this group
• Risky shift – the tendency for group decisions to be riskier than
individual decisions.
• Modified later into group polarization – the tendency for the group
to make decisions that are more extreme than individual decisions.
• Social comparison – norms are extablished in group discussions, the
need for some to establish individuality causes them to want to
stand out. This leads to greater ingratiation into the ingroup and
further members to conform. The net effect is a more extreme
norm being established. Studies controlling for group modelling of
this effect have still obtained extreme norm formation which would
indicate that this effect is not uniform.
• SIT – in order to maximize ingroup-outgroup differentiation,
category accentuation effect will cause positions to become more
extreme. Research shows that norms can be polarized away from
target outgroups to maintain positive distinctiveness.
What are the defining characteristics of groupthink?
How was the phenomenon modified in its
interpretation of group cohesion?
High group cohesiveness
Decisional urgency
Need for consensus
Research indicates group members share social
identity rather than individual information
showing that group cohesiveness was a function
of group level effects rather than interpersonal
liking. Social identification strengthens the effects
of normative and informational influence and
intensify conformity
Culture and Cultural Norms
Outline two definitions of culture.
• Shirav and Levy, 2004 - A set of attitudes,
behaviours and symbols shared by a large group
of people and usually communicated from one
generation to the next.
• Matsumoto and Juang, 2008 - A unique meaning
and information system, shared by a group and
transmitted across generations, that allows the
group to meet basic needs of survival, pursue
happiness and well-being, and derive meaning
from life
Define cultural norms. How are they similar to social norms and
how are they different?
• Cultural norms – Norms of an established
group which are transmitted across
generations and regulate behaviour in
accordance with the group’s beliefs about
acceptable and unacceptable ways of thinking,
feeling, and behaving.
• They cover wider groups and form parts of
larger identities.
Describe the method used by Hofstede to define cultural
dimensions. Do you think there are any validity issues with this
• Thematic content analysis of survey data of workrelated attitudes of IBM employees in 72
countries. Depending on the questions asked,
there could be sampling validity issues
considering only one company or type of
company was used as a pool of respondants.
Demand characteristics could also account for
uniformity of answers as the relevant culture
expressed in the responses would be one of the
workplace rather than the culture of the host
Identify the five cultural dimensions according to
Hofstede. Explain where you think we rank on these
• Individualism/collectivism – Individual societies define identity with
personal characteristics whereas collectivist societies define
identity with membership in groups (families, tribes, etc)
• Power distance – the extent to which a society fosters power and
status differences between individuals and encourage people to
accept their place in the social hierarchy
• Uncertainty avoidance – the extent to which a society accepts
ambiguous situations or uncertainty or are uncomfortable and
unaccepting of them.
• Masculinity/femininity – Masculine societies emphasize
achievement, success, and possessions as opposed to feminine
societies which emphasize interpersonal harmony, caring for others,
• Long-term/short-term orientation – Confucian dynamism – the
extent to which a culture will promote delay of gratification or will
promote consumption or hedonism.
How would the dimension of individualism and
collectivism impact the SIT of identity? Evaluate how
the textbook deals with this issue.
• SIT states that our identity comes from our
network of group memberships and the
relationship between our group and other
attended groups. Individualism/collectivism
define the cultures in isolation broadly.
According to the text – people in
individualistic cultures will still seek out and
become part of defining groups.
Describe the research conducted by Petrova (2007). Do
you agree with the textbook’s explanation for the
results (Cialdini, 1999)?
• Field experiment-experimental study
• Aim – to investigate the interaction of individual/collective cultural
dynamics on compliance levels
• Method – 3000 US college students, half of which are Asian. All are
sent an email participation request for a study. A month later, all
were asked to participate in an online survey.
• Results – a higher proportion of Asian students agreed to the first
request but a higher proportion of US students followed through to
the second request.
• Cialdini hypothesized that a higher proportion of collectivist culture
members would be sensitive to the actions of the group and would
therefore “fall in line” with the rest if they knew who had complied
in the past to requests. This was not studied as part of Petrova’s
Summarize the impact of individualism and collectivism
on compliance and conformity.
• Meta-analysis of conformity studies shows
that collectivist cultures showed more
tendencies toward conformity in Asch
paradigm studies than individualistic societies.
This is consistent with the cultural dynamic of
collectivism as members of collectivist
societies would be more concerned with
agreement and minimizing conflict rather than
submitting to the will of another which would
a negative idea in individualistic cultures
Summarize the research by Chen (2005). How would SIT explain
the results?
• Chen (2005)
• Aims: To investigate the prevalence of patience in long term oriented
societies compared to short term societies.
• Methods: 147 participants of both Singaporean and US origin were split
into two groups. One viewed a collage of images related to Singaporean
culture and the second group viewed images relate to US culture. Both
groups were then given a decision to purchase a book with a delayed
delivery or with an extra charge and an immediate delivery.
• Results: participants activated by the US images valued immediate
consumption by purchasing the book immediately more than Singaporean
activated participants.
• SIT would explain these results with the idea that the images activated
perspectives of the relevant ingroup. Participants then would behave in a
way which would emphasize positive distinctiveness and social
comparison. Participants were able to choose either ingroup to identify
with and would consciously or unconsciously act in accordance with them.
Identify some extraneous variables that may confound the
results in some of the research identified in this section.
• It would be an assumption to link viewing
images with activating a mindset of a
particular culture. There are many possible
variables that would factor in to the decision
of a subject and other factors may account for
behaviour. Participants history would be
composed of other relevant events that would
presumably shape behaviour.
Emic and Etic Concepts
Define emic and etic. How did these
concepts originate?
• Etic – An approach to cross-cultural analysis.
Studying what all cultures have in common.
Seeking universal principles of human behaviour.
• Emic – An approach to single cultural
examinations. Isolated to one culture’s distinctive
or unique behaviour. The meaning of behaviour
can only be expressed in terms of the culture of
its origin.
• These approaches grew out of the study of
language sounds – phonetics.
Using the above definitions, would you consider Hofstede’s
method of defining cultural dimension emic or etic?
• Hosfstede’s approach would be etic – some
identified concepts are common for all
cultures (time? Definition of wealth?)
• defined in relation to another culture.
What is the imposed etic approach? Is
all research inherently etic?
• Using the concepts of one culture to study
another – imposed etic approach
• Is it possible to explain behaviour without
culture-specific approaches?
– Language used to convey results and discuss
– Audience of the targeted hypothesis
– Purpose of doing the study to begin with
How do emic and etic approached differ in their approach to
depression? Give one example of research supporting each
• Depression – etic – Symptoms of depression are
common across cultures – sadness, joylessness,
anxiety, sense of insufficiency. Some symptoms were
reported that were not asked as part of the diagnosis possibly due to cultural factors related to the study. Eg.
WHO study of depression across four countries
• Depression – emic – approach to depression would be
different in different cultures. Eg. Hopi Indians – AID
Scale – no word to describe depression but five illness
categories. Some categories were similar to Western
conceptions of depression but others were not.
What effect would language have in the research and
interpretation of data in cross-cultural studies?
• Understanding and expression of ideas
automatically involve some cultural bias in
interpretation. Some sets of feelings
associated with what we would call
depression may not be called the same terms
or expressed in the same perspective in
another culture. Framing conclusions in
English automatically introduces cultural
Going back over the cultural dimensions – explain the behavior
associated with depression according to TWO of the five
dimensions. How would you guess someone with depression
would behave in those cultures?
Power distance
Risk/uncertainty avoidance
Confucian dynamism
Sense of
Methods used in the sociocultural
level of analysis
• Discuss how and why particular research
methods are used at the sociocultural level of
• Discuss ethical considerations related to
research studies at the sociocultural level of
• Egs
– Jones and Harris – FAE study
– Bargh et al – experimental study on automatic stereotype
– Bandura – Bobo Doll experiment
Validity is high
Artificiality leads to low ecological validity
Rarely are experiments taken alone – triangulation
True lab experiments are not possible on cross-cultural
• Field experiments and natural experiments are more
common – Chen et al – bicultural participants
Correlational studies
• Egs
– Hofsetde’s cultural dimensions
• Relies on massive surveys - factor analysis
through elaborate mathematical formluas
• Individuality de-emphasized for broad cultural
• Allows for more specific claims to be
Case studies
Janis – Groupthink
Relies on archival research and interviews
Must be seen in a group framework rather
than individual behaviour
• Asch and Sherif – are these group studies or
case studies?
• Use of deception and inducing stress:
– Asch
– Milgram
• Evoking of stereotypes
– Bargh et al.
• Cross-cultural studies used as grounds/justifications for
– Hofstedes’ cultural dimensions
• Final question must be based on the value of the knowledge
gained – which of the studies we have examined could be
justified on these ground? What cultural biases would make
one answer different from another?
Choose one…/8 marks
• 1. Outline TWO principles that define the
sociocultural level of analysis
• 2. Explain ONE error in attribution
• 3. Describe ONE factor influencing conformity
• 4. Explain the terms emic and etic.
Choose ANOTHER one…/22 marks
• 1. Evaluate social identity theory, make reference
to two relevant studies
• 2. Discuss research on conformity to social norms

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