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Case Study Design and Analysis

DEINDIVIDUATION: WHEN DO PEOPLE LOSE THEIR SENSE OF SELF IN GROUPS?

Define “deindividuation” and identify circumstances that trigger it.

In April 2003, in the wake of American troops entering Iraq’s cities, looters—“liberated” from the scrutiny of police—ran rampant. Hospitals lost beds. The National Library lost tens of thousands of old manuscripts and lay in smoldering ruins. Universities lost computers, Page 212chairs, even lightbulbs. The National Museum in Baghdad lost 15,000 precious objects (Burns, 2003a, 2003b; Lawler, 2003c; Polk & Schuster, 2005). “Not since the Spanish conquistadors ravaged the Aztec and Inca cultures has so much been lost so quickly,” reported Science (Lawler, 2003a). “They came in mobs: A group of 50 would come, then would go, and another would come,” explained one university dean (Lawler, 2003b).

Such reports—and those of the 2011 arson and looting that occurred in London, the 2014 looting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the mob sexual assaults in Germany as 2016 dawned—had the rest of the world wondering: What happened to people’s sense of morality? Why did such behavior erupt? And why was it not anticipated?

Deindividuation: During England’s 2011 riots and looting, rioters were disinhibited by social arousal and by the anonymity provided by darkness and their hoods and masks. Later, some of those arrested expressed bewilderment over their own behavior.

©Lewis Whyld/AP Images

Their behavior even left many of the rioters later wondering what had possessed them. In court, some of the arrested London rioters seemed bewildered by their behavior (Smith, 2011). The mother of one of them, a recent university graduate, explained that her daughter had been sobbing in her bedroom since her arrest over a stolen television. “She doesn’t even know why she took it. She doesn’t need a telly.” An engineering student, arrested after looting a supermarket while he was walking home, was said by his lawyer to having “got caught up in the moment” and was now “incredibly ashamed” (Somaiya, 2011).

Doing Together What We Would Not Do Alone

Social facilitation experiments show that groups can arouse people, and social loafing experiments show that groups can diffuse responsibility. When arousal and diffused responsibility combine, and normal inhibitions diminish, the results may be startling. People may commit acts that range from a mild lessening of restraint (throwing food in the dining hall, snarling at a referee, screaming during a rock concert) to impulsive self-gratification (group vandalism, orgies, thefts) to destructive social explosions (police brutality, riots, lynchings).

These unrestrained behaviors have something in common: They are provoked by the power of being in a group. Groups can generate a sense of excitement, of being caught up in something bigger than one’s self. It is hard to imagine a single rock fan screaming deliriously at a private rock concert, or a single rioter setting a car on fire. It’s in group situations that people are more likely to abandon normal restraints, to forget their individual identity, to become responsive to group or crowd norms—in a word, to become what Leon Festinger, Albert Pepitone, and Theodore Newcomb (1952) labeled deindividuated. What circumstances elicit this psychological state?

GROUP SIZE

A group has the power not only to arouse its members but also to render them unidentifiable. The snarling crowd hides the snarling basketball fan. A lynch mob enables its members to believe they will not be prosecuted; they perceive the action as the group’s. Looters, made faceless by the mob, are freed to loot. One researcher analyzed 21 instances in which crowds were present as someone threatened to jump from a building or a bridge (Mann, 1981). When the crowd was small and exposed by daylight, people usually did not try to bait the person with cries of “Jump!” But when a large crowd or the cover of night gave people anonymity, the crowd usually did bait and jeer.

Lynch mobs produce a similar effect: The bigger the mob, the more its members lose self-awareness and become willing to commit atrocities, such as burning, lacerating, or dismembering the victim (Leader et al., 2007; Mullen, 1986a).

In each of these examples, from sports crowds to lynch mobs, evaluation apprehension plummets. People’s attention is focused on the situation, not on themselves. And because “everyone is doing it,” all can attribute their behavior to the situation rather than to their own choices.

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ANONYMITY

How can we be sure that crowds offer anonymity? We can’t. But we can experiment with anonymity to see if it actually lessens inhibitions. Philip Zimbardo (1970, 2002) got the idea for such an experiment from his undergraduate students, who questioned how good boys in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies could so suddenly become monsters after painting their faces. To experiment with such anonymity, he dressed New York University women in identical white coats and hoods, rather like Ku Klux Klan members (Figure 5). Asked to deliver electric shocks to a woman, they pressed the shock button twice as long as did women who were unconcealed and wearing large name tags. Even dimmed lighting or wearing sunglasses increases people’s perceived anonymity, and thus their willingness to cheat or behave selfishly (Zhong et al., 2010).

FIGURE 5

In Philip Zimbardo’s deindividuation research, anonymous women delivered more shock to helpless victims than did identifiable women.

©Philip Zimbardo

The Internet offers similar anonymity. Millions of those who were aghast at the looting by the Baghdad mobs were on those very days anonymously pirating music tracks using file-sharing software. With so many doing it, and with so little concern about being caught, downloading someone’s copyrighted property and then offloading it to an MP3 player just didn’t seem terribly immoral. Internet bullies who would never say, “Get a life, you phony,” to someone’s face will hide behind their anonymity online. Most social media sites, to their credit, require people to use their real names, which constrains hate-filled comments.

On several occasions, anonymous online bystanders have egged on people threatening suicide, sometimes with live video feeding the scene to scores of people. Online communities “are like the crowd outside the building with the guy on the ledge,” noted one analyst of technology’s social effects (quoted by Stelter, 2008). Sometimes a caring person tried to talk the person down, while others, in effect, chanted, “Jump, jump.” “The anonymous nature of these communities only emboldens the meanness or callousness of the people on these sites.”

Testing deindividuation on the streets, Patricia Ellison, John Govern, and their colleagues (1995) had a driver stop at a red light and wait for 12 seconds whenever she was followed by a convertible or a 4 × 4 vehicle. During the wait, she recorded horn-honking (a mild aggressive act) by the car behind. Compared with drivers of convertibles and 4 × 4s with the car tops down, those who were relatively anonymous (with the tops up) honked one-third sooner, twice as often, and for nearly twice as long. Anonymity feeds incivility.

A research team led by Ed Diener (1976) cleverly demonstrated the effect both of being in a group and of being physically anonymous. At Halloween, they observed 1,352 Seattle children trick-or-treating. As the children, either alone or in groups, approached 1 of 27 homes scattered throughout the city, an experimenter greeted them warmly, invited them to “take one of the candies,” and then left the candy unattended. Hidden observers noted that children in groups were more than twice as likely to take extra candy than were solo children. Also, children who had been asked their names and where they lived were less than half as likely to transgress as those who were left anonymous. As Figure 6 shows, when they were deindividuated both by group immersion and by anonymity, most children stole extra candy.

FIGURE 6

Children were more likely to transgress by taking extra Halloween candy when in a group, when anonymous, and, especially, when deindividuated by the combination of group immersion and anonymity.

Source: Data from Diener et al., 1976.

Page 214Those studies make us wonder about the effect of wearing uniforms. Preparing for battle, warriors in some tribal cultures (like some rabid sports fans) depersonalize themselves with body and face paints or special masks. Robert Watson (1973) scrutinized anthropological files and discovered this: The cultures with depersonalized warriors were also the cultures that brutalized their enemies. In Northern Ireland, 206 of 500 violent attacks studied by Andrew Silke (2003) were conducted by attackers who wore masks, hoods, or other face disguises. Compared with undisguised attackers, these anonymous attackers inflicted more serious injuries, attacked more people, and committed more vandalism.

Does becoming physically anonymous always unleash our worst impulses? Fortunately, no. In all these situations, people were responding to clear antisocial cues. Robert Johnson and Leslie Downing (1979) point out that the Klan-like outfits worn by Zimbardo’s participants may have been stimulus cues for hostility. In an experiment at the University of Georgia, women put on nurses’ uniforms before deciding how much shock someone should receive. When those wearing the nurses’ uniforms were made anonymous, they became less aggressive in administering shocks. From their analysis of 60 deindividuation studies, Tom Postmes and Russell Spears (1998; Reicher et al., 1995) concluded that being anonymous makes one less self-conscious, more group-conscious, and more responsive to situational cues, whether negative (Klan uniforms) or positive (nurses’ uniforms).

AROUSING AND DISTRACTING ACTIVITIES

Aggressive outbursts by large groups are often preceded by minor actions that arouse and divert people’s attention. Group shouting, chanting, clapping, or dancing serve both to hype people up and to reduce self-consciousness.

Experiments have shown that activities such as throwing rocks and group singing can set the stage for more disinhibited behavior (Diener, 1976, 1979). There is a self-reinforcing pleasure in acting impulsively while seeing others do likewise. When we see others act as we are acting, we think they feel as we do, which reinforces our own feelings (Orive, 1984). Moreover, impulsive group action absorbs our attention. When we yell at the referee, we are not thinking about our values; we are reacting to the immediate situation. Later, when we stop to think about what we have done or said, we sometimes feel chagrined. Sometimes. At other times we seek deindividuating group experiences—dances, worship experiences, team sports—where we enjoy intense positive feelings and closeness to others.

“Attending a service in the Gothic cathedral, we have the sensation of being enclosed and steeped in an integral universe, and of losing a prickly sense of self in the community of worshipers.”

—Yi-Fu Tuan, Segmented Worlds and Self, 1982

Diminished Self-Awareness

Group experiences that diminish self-consciousness tend to disconnect behavior from attitudes. Research by Ed Diener (1980) and Steven Prentice-Dunn and Ronald Rogers (1980, 1989) Page 215revealed that unself-conscious, deindividuated people are less restrained, less self-regulated, more likely to act without thinking about their own values, and more responsive to the situation. These findings complement and reinforce the experiments on self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the opposite of deindividuation. Those made self-aware, by acting in front of a mirror or a TV camera, exhibit increased self-control, and their actions more clearly reflect their attitudes. In front of a mirror, people taste-testing cream cheese varieties ate less of the high-fat variety (Sentyrz & Bushman, 1998).

Looking in a mirror or being on camera increases self-awareness, making us think about our individual actions more carefully.

©Syda Productions/Shutterstock

People made self-aware are also less likely to cheat (Beaman et al., 1979; Diener & Wallbom, 1976). So are those who generally have a strong sense of themselves as distinct and independent (Nadler et al., 1982). In Japan, where people more often imagine how they might look to others, the presence of a mirror had no effect on cheating (Heine et al., 2008). The principle: People who are self-conscious, or who are temporarily made so, exhibit greater consistency between their words outside a situation and their deeds in it.

We can apply those findings to many situations in everyday life. Circumstances that decrease self-awareness, as alcohol consumption does, increase deindividuation (Hull et al., 1983). Deindividuation decreases in circumstances that increase self-awareness: mirrors and cameras, small towns, bright lights, large name tags, undistracted quiet, individual clothes and houses (Ickes et al., 1978). When a teenager leaves for a party, a parent’s parting advice could well be “Have fun, and remember who you are.” In other words, enjoy being with the group, but be self-aware; maintain your personal identity; be wary of deindividuation.

SUMMING UP: Deindividuation: When Do People Lose Their Sense of Self in Groups?

When high levels of social arousal combine with diffused responsibility, people may abandon their normal restraints and lose their sense of individuality.

Such deindividuation is especially likely when people are in a large group, are physically anonymous, and are aroused and distracted.

The resulting diminished self-awareness and self-restraint tend to increase people’s responsiveness to the immediate situation, be it negative or positive. Deindividuation is less likely when self-awareness is high.

GROUP POLARIZATION: DO GROUPS INTENSIFY OUR OPINIONS?

Describe and explain how interaction with like-minded people tends to amplify preexisting attitudes.

Do group interactions more often have good or bad outcomes? Police brutality and mob violence demonstrate the destructive potential of groups. Yet support-group leaders, work-group consultants, and educational theorists proclaim the beneficial effects of group interaction. And self-help group members and religious adherents strengthen their identities by fellowship with like-minded others.

Studies of small groups have produced a principle that helps explain both bad and good outcomes: Group discussion often strengthens members’ initial inclinations. The unfolding Page 216of this research on group polarization illustrates the process of inquiry—how an interesting discovery often leads researchers to hasty and erroneous conclusions, which get replaced with more accurate conclusions. This is a scientific mystery I [DM] can discuss firsthand, having been one of the detectives.

The Case of the “Risky Shift”

More than 300 studies began with a surprising finding by James Stoner (1961), then an MIT graduate student. For his master’s thesis in management, Stoner tested the commonly held belief that groups are more cautious than individuals. He posed decision dilemmas in which the participant’s task was to advise imagined characters how much risk to take. Put yourself in the participant’s shoes: What advice would you give the character in this situation?1

Helen is a writer who is said to have considerable creative talent but who so far has been earning a comfortable living by writing cheap westerns. Recently she has come up with an idea for a potentially significant novel. If it could be written and accepted, it might have considerable literary impact and be a big boost to her career. On the other hand, if she cannot work out her idea or if the novel is a flop, she will have expended considerable time and energy without remuneration.

Imagine that you are advising Helen. Please check the lowest probability that you would consider acceptable for Helen to attempt to write the novel.

Helen should attempt to write the novel if the chances that the novel will be a success are at least

_____ 1 in 10

_____ 2 in 10

_____ 3 in 10

_____ 4 in 10

_____ 5 in 10

_____ 6 in 10

_____ 7 in 10

_____ 8 in 10

_____ 9 in 10

_____ 10 in 10 (Place a check here if you think Helen should attempt the novel only if it is certain that the novel will be a success.)

After making your decision, guess what this book’s average reader would advise.

Having marked their advice on a dozen items, five or so individuals would then discuss and reach agreement on each item. How do you think the group decisions compared with the average decision before the discussions? Would the groups be likely to take greater risks, be more cautious, or stay the same?

To everyone’s amazement, the group decisions were usually riskier. This “risky shift phenomenon” set off a wave of group risk-taking studies. These revealed that risky shift occurs not only when a group decides by consensus; after a brief discussion, individuals, too, will alter their decisions. What is more, researchers successfully repeated Stoner’s finding with people of varying ages and occupations in a dozen nations.

The risky shift: Groups of people, like these teens in a car together, may make more risky decisions than individuals alone.

©Big Cheese Photo/Superstock

During discussion, opinions converged. Curiously, however, the point toward which they converged was usually a lower (riskier) number than their initial average. Here was an intriguing puzzle. The small risky shift effect was reliable, unexpected, and without any immediately obvious explanation. What group influences produce such an effect? And how widespread is it? Do discussions in juries, business committees, and military organizations also promote risk taking? Does this explain why teenage reckless driving, as measured by death rates, nearly doubles when a 16- or 17-year-old driver has two teenage Page 217passengers rather than none (Chen et al., 2000)? Does it explain stock bubbles, as people discuss why stocks are rising, thus creating an informational cascade that drives stocks even higher (Sunstein, 2009)?

After several years of study, my [DM’s] colleagues and I discovered that the risky shift was not universal. We could write decision dilemmas on which people became more cautious after discussion. One of these featured “Roger,” a young married man with two school-age children and a secure but low-paying job. Roger can afford life’s necessities but few of its luxuries. He hears that the stock of a relatively unknown company may soon triple in value if its new product is favorably received or decline considerably if it does not sell. Roger has no savings. To invest in the company, he is considering selling his life insurance policy.

Can you see a general principle that predicts both the tendency to give riskier advice after discussing Helen’s situation and more cautious advice after discussing Roger’s? If you are like most people, you would advise Helen to take a greater risk than Roger, even before talking with others. It turns out there is a strong tendency for discussion to accentuate these initial leanings. Thus, groups discussing the “Roger” dilemma became more risk-averse than they were before discussion (Myers, 2010).

Do Groups Intensify Opinions?

Realizing that this group phenomenon was not a consistent shift toward increased risk, we reconceived the phenomenon as a tendency for group discussion to enhance group members’ initial leanings. Similar minds polarize. This idea led investigators to propose what French researchers Serge Moscovici and Marisa Zavalloni (1969) called group polarization: Discussion typically strengthens the average inclination of group members.

GROUP POLARIZATION EXPERIMENTS

This new view of the group-induced changes prompted experimenters to have people discuss attitude statements that most of them favored, or that most of them opposed. Would talking in groups enhance their shared initial inclinations? In groups, would risk takers take bigger risks, bigots become more hostile, and givers become more generous? That’s what the group polarization hypothesis predicts (Figure 7).

FIGURE 7

Group Polarization

The group polarization hypothesis predicts that discussion will strengthen an attitude shared by group members.

Dozens of studies confirm group polarization. Three examples:

Moscovici and Zavalloni (1969) observed that discussion enhanced French students’ initially positive attitude toward their president and negative attitude toward Americans.

Mititoshi Isozaki (1984) found that Japanese university students gave more pronounced judgments of “guilty” after discussing a traffic case. When jury members are inclined to award damages, the group award tends to exceed that preferred by the median jury member (Sunstein, 2007a).

When people believed they were watching an online video of a political speech at the same time as many other viewers (vs. with no other viewers), their judgments of the speech were more extreme (Shteynberg et al., 2016).

Markus Brauer and co-workers (2001) found that French students were more adamant in their dislike of someone after discussing their shared negative impressions with others. If some individuals dislike you, together they may dislike you more.

Another research strategy has been to pick issues on which opinions are divided and then isolate people who hold the same view. Does discussion with like-minded people strengthen shared views? Does it magnify the attitude gap that separates the two sides?

George Bishop and I [DM] wondered. So we set up groups of relatively prejudiced and unprejudiced high school students and asked them to respond—before and after discussion—to issues involving racial attitudes (Myers & Bishop, 1970). Page 218For example, they responded to a case involving the property right to rent only to one’s race versus the civil right to not face discrimination. We found that the discussions among like-minded students did indeed increase the initial gap between the two groups (Figure 8). Moreover, Jessica Keating and her collaborators (2016) report that people are unaware of the phenomenon in their own lives. When small groups of like-minded people discussed whether Barack Obama or George W. Bush was the better president, participants underestimated how much the discussion polarized their attitudes, misremembering their earlier attitudes as less extreme than they actually were.

FIGURE 8

Discussion increased polarization between homogeneous groups of high- and low-prejudice high school students. Talking over racial issues increased prejudice in a high-prejudice group and decreased it in a low-prejudice group.

Source: Data from Myers & Bishop, 1970.

Studies in Britain and Australia confirm that group discussion can magnify both negative and positive tendencies. When people share negative impressions of a group, such as an immigrant group, discussion supports their negative views and increases their willingness to discriminate (Smith & Postmes, 2011). And when people share concern about an injustice, discussion amplifies their moral concern (Thomas & McGarty, 2009). Like hot coals together, like minds strengthen one another.

GROUP POLARIZATION IN EVERYDAY LIFE

In everyday life, people associate mostly with others whose attitudes are similar to their own. (See the Attraction chapter, or just look at your own circle of friends.) So, outside the laboratory, do everyday group interactions with like-minded friends intensify shared attitudes? Do the nerds become nerdier, the jocks jockier, and the rebels more rebellious?

It happens. The self-segregation of boys into all-male groups and of girls into all-female groups increases their initially modest gender differences, noted Eleanor Maccoby (2002). Boys with boys become gradually more competitive and action oriented in their play and fictional fare. Girls with girls become more relationally oriented.

On U.S. federal appellate court cases, judges appointed by Republican presidents tend to vote like Republicans and judges appointed by Democratic presidents tend to vote like Democrats. No surprise there. But such tendencies are accentuated when among like-minded judges, report David Schkade and Cass Sunstein (2003): “A Republican appointee sitting with two other Republicans votes far more conservatively than when the same judge sits with at least one Democratic appointee. A Democratic appointee, meanwhile, shows the same tendency in the opposite ideological direction.”

“What explains the rise of fascism in the 1930s? The emergence of student radicalism in the 1960s? The growth of Islamic terrorism in the 1990s? . . . The unifying theme is simple: When people find themselves in groups of like-minded types, they are especially likely to move to extremes. [This] is the phenomenon of group polarization.”

—Cass Sunstein, Going to Extremes, 2009

GROUP POLARIZATION IN SCHOOLS Another real-life parallel to the laboratory phenomenon is what education researchers have called the “accentuation” effect: Over time, initial differences among groups of college students become accentuated. If the first-year students at Big Brain College are initially more intellectual than the students at Party School College, that gap is likely to increase by the time they graduate. Likewise, compared with fraternity and sorority members, nonmembers have tended to have more liberal political attitudes, a difference that grows with time in college (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Researchers believe this results partly from group members reinforcing shared inclinations.

GROUP POLARIZATION IN COMMUNITIES Polarization also occurs in communities, as people self-segregate. “Crunchy places . . . attract crunchy types and become crunchier,” observes David Brooks (2005). “Conservative places . . . attract conservatives and become more so.” Neighborhoods can become echo chambers, with opinions ricocheting off kindred-spirited friends.

Show social psychologists a like-minded group that interacts mostly among themselves and they will show you a group that may become more extreme. While diversity moderates us, like minds polarize.

One experiment assembled small groups of Coloradoans in liberal Boulder and conservative Colorado Springs. The discussions increased agreement within small groups about global warming, affirmative action, and same-sex unions. Nevertheless, those in Boulder generally converged further left and those in Colorado Springs further right (Schkade et al., 2007).

Page 219In laboratory studies, the competitive relationships and mistrust that individuals often display when playing games with one another often worsen when the players are groups (Winquist & Larson, 2004). During actual community conflicts, like-minded people associate increasingly with one another, amplifying their shared tendencies. Gang delinquency emerges from a process of mutual reinforcement within neighborhood gangs, whose members share attributes and hostilities (Cartwright, 1975). If “a second out-of-control 15-year-old moves in [on your block],” surmises David Lykken (1997), “the mischief they get into as a team is likely to be more than merely double what the first would do on his own. . . . A gang is more dangerous than the sum of its individual parts.” (Or, as one friend of mine [JT] put it when we were in college and had witnessed a few too many drunken antics, “Boys do dumb things when they get together in groups.”) Indeed, “unsupervised peer groups” are “the strongest predictor” of a neighborhood’s crime victimization rate, report Bonita Veysey and Steven Messner (1999). Moreover, experimental interventions that take delinquent adolescents and group them with other delinquents—no surprise to any group polarization researcher—increase the rate of problem behavior (Dishion et al., 1999).

In two trials, South African courts reduced sentences after learning how social psychological phenomena, including deindividuation and group polarization, led crowd members to commit murderous acts (Colman, 1991). What do you think: Should courts consider social psychological phenomena as possible extenuating circumstances?

GROUP POLARIZATION IN POLITICS With like-minded communities serving as political echo chambers, the United States offers a case example of an urgent social problem—political polarization. As more and more people view their party as morally superior and the opposition as corrupt, cooperation and shared goals get replaced by gridlock. Consider:

Like-minded counties. The percentage of Americans living in “landslide counties”—those in which 60% or more voted for the same Presidential candidate—rose from 38% in 1992 to 60% in 2016 (Aisch et al., 2016).

Minimized middle ground. The percentage of entering collegians declaring themselves as politically “middle of the road” dropped from 60% in 1983 to 42% in 2016, and those identifying as “far left” or “far right” has increased (Eagan et al., 2017; Twenge et al., 2016).

Increasing partisan divide. The gap between Republicans and Democrats, as expressed in congressional speeches and in citizen attitudes, has never been greater (Figure 9) (Gentzkow et al., 2017; Pew, 2017).

Antagonism. In 2016, most Republicans and Democrats for the first time acknowledged having “very unfavorable” views of the other party (Doherty & Kiley, 2016). In 1960, just 5% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats said they would be upset if their son or daughter was going to marry someone from the other political party. By 2010, 49% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats said they would be upset (Iyengar et al., 2012).

Persistent partisanship. The rate of Americans’ voting for the same party across successive presidential elections has never been higher (Smidt, 2017).

FIGURE 9

A polarizing society. Democrats have increasingly agreed that “Racial discrimination is the main reason why many Black people can’t get ahead these days” (Pew, 2017). Republicans have become less likely to agree.

This worsening divide is increasingly apparent to all, with a record 77% of Americans perceiving their nation as divided (Jones, 2016).

Groups often exceed individuals. A gang is more dangerous than the sum of its parts, much as “the pack is greater than the wolf.”

©Raimund Linke/Getty Images

GROUP POLARIZATION ON THE INTERNET From the long-ago invention of the printing press to today’s Internet, the amount of available information has mushroomed. Where once people shared the same information from a few networks and national news magazines, today we choose from a myriad of sources. With so many choices, we naturally “selectively expose” ourselves to like-minded media (Dylko et al., 2017). Page 220We embrace media feeds that support our views and slam those we despise. (Tell us which media you consume and we’ll guess your political ideology.)

As people selectively read blogs and visit chat rooms, does the Internet herd them into “tribes of common thought” (or do we have more—and more diverse—friends on Facebook than in daily life)? Do people (do you?) tend to click on content they (you?) agree with and block what’s disagreeable? Do progressives tend to friend progress

Case Study Design and Analysis

Group and Organizational Behavior.html

Group and Organizational Behavior

A group can be defined as individual interacting together for a purpose.

When discussing organizational group behavior, the first question that arises is, what is the purpose of a work group, especially a group related to product development, quality improvement, or management? The probable answer to this question is, “The fundamental activity of groups is to integrate individual knowledge into collective knowledge” (Okhuysen & Eisenhardt, 2002, p. 370). Therefore, most work groups entail some sort of change (in the product line, delivery of services, quality of work, work or task design, marketing strategy, or organizational mission or values). These changes enhance group participation and therefore improve group performance and the quality of products. However, sometimes, significant changes in the work process of a group or an organization evoke increased negative job stress, resulting in poor overall performance (Seel, 2001).

See the linked document for an example of group dynamics.

Okhuysen, G., & Eisenhardt, K. (2002). Integrating knowledge in groups: How formal interventions enable flexibility. Organizational Science, 13(4), 370–386.

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Stages of Group Development

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

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Stages of Group Development

Group and Organizational Behavior

Stages of Group Development

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) was a unique movie
demonstrating the various aspects of group dynamics, especially dysfunctional group dynamics. The
movie was based on a novel written by Peter George and was produced and codirected by Stanley
Kubrick.

The story begins with U.S. Air Force Base Commander Jack D. Ripper (played by Sterling Hayden) going
mad and sending bombers to drop nuclear warheads over the Soviet Union. This leads to a threat of an
accidental nuclear war. The star of the movie is Peter Sellers, who portrays three of the main characters:
Dr. Strangelove, Lionel Mandrake (an ex-World War II German scientist with a unique outlook on war and
missiles), and President Merkin Muffey.

Lionel Mandrake, after confirming the news of no attack being made on the United States, wants to recall
the bombers. However, Ripper refuses to reveal the three-letter code required to recall the bombers.

Desperate to avoid World War III, President Muffley summons Soviet Ambassador Alexander de Sadesky
(played by Peter Bull) into the Pentagon war room. Muffley also speaks to the Soviet premiere over the
telephone. After a humorous exchange, Muffley agrees to provide the Soviets with data on the flight
paths of the errant bombers so that Soviet air defenses can shoot them down, if necessary.

President Muffley becomes aware of a secret weapon, the doomsday device, developed by the Soviets,
which has the ability to destroy all life on earth. The Soviets plan to use the weapon in case of any attack
on the Soviet Union. When Dr. Strangelove, the president’s advisor, is asked about the weapon’s effect,
he admits its obvious flaws.

Thinking about the ways to survive, Dr. Strangelove estimates that U.S. society can survive if a few
handpicked individuals remain in underground shelters for 100 years, waiting for the fallout to dissipate.
Finally, a full-scale attack on the Soviet Union is planned. The movie ends with one bomber hitting its
target and the Soviet Union releasing its doomsday device, which destroys the world.

The main focus of the movie was the lack of group development to resolve this potentially apocalyptic
scenario. In this movie, group development seemed to fluctuate between the forming and storming
stages of Tuckman’s (1965) model. The characters in the movie represented strong personalities who had
more influence in their own groups (their direct control) than in the newly formed (war room group). In
addition, President Muffley, who was considered the leader of this group, did not have an effective
leadership style, which, in this case, should have been an authoritative style.

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

©2016 South University

3
Stages of Group Development

Group and Organizational Behavior

© 2016 South University

Case Study Design and Analysis

Stages of Group Development

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

©2016 South University

2
Stages of Group Development

Group and Organizational Behavior

Stages of Group Development

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) was a unique movie
demonstrating the various aspects of group dynamics, especially dysfunctional group dynamics. The
movie was based on a novel written by Peter George and was produced and codirected by Stanley
Kubrick.

The story begins with U.S. Air Force Base Commander Jack D. Ripper (played by Sterling Hayden) going
mad and sending bombers to drop nuclear warheads over the Soviet Union. This leads to a threat of an
accidental nuclear war. The star of the movie is Peter Sellers, who portrays three of the main characters:
Dr. Strangelove, Lionel Mandrake (an ex-World War II German scientist with a unique outlook on war and
missiles), and President Merkin Muffey.

Lionel Mandrake, after confirming the news of no attack being made on the United States, wants to recall
the bombers. However, Ripper refuses to reveal the three-letter code required to recall the bombers.

Desperate to avoid World War III, President Muffley summons Soviet Ambassador Alexander de Sadesky
(played by Peter Bull) into the Pentagon war room. Muffley also speaks to the Soviet premiere over the
telephone. After a humorous exchange, Muffley agrees to provide the Soviets with data on the flight
paths of the errant bombers so that Soviet air defenses can shoot them down, if necessary.

President Muffley becomes aware of a secret weapon, the doomsday device, developed by the Soviets,
which has the ability to destroy all life on earth. The Soviets plan to use the weapon in case of any attack
on the Soviet Union. When Dr. Strangelove, the president’s advisor, is asked about the weapon’s effect,
he admits its obvious flaws.

Thinking about the ways to survive, Dr. Strangelove estimates that U.S. society can survive if a few
handpicked individuals remain in underground shelters for 100 years, waiting for the fallout to dissipate.
Finally, a full-scale attack on the Soviet Union is planned. The movie ends with one bomber hitting its
target and the Soviet Union releasing its doomsday device, which destroys the world.

The main focus of the movie was the lack of group development to resolve this potentially apocalyptic
scenario. In this movie, group development seemed to fluctuate between the forming and storming
stages of Tuckman’s (1965) model. The characters in the movie represented strong personalities who had
more influence in their own groups (their direct control) than in the newly formed (war room group). In
addition, President Muffley, who was considered the leader of this group, did not have an effective
leadership style, which, in this case, should have been an authoritative style.

PSY3011 Social Psychology lab

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Stages of Group Development

Group and Organizational Behavior

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Case Study Design and Analysis

Group Development.html

Group Development

The process of group development is dynamic and structured. In the previous example, a problem-solving group was formed to determine what went wrong in the process. The war room group of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a good depiction of what happens to a group whose members cannot function in sync with each other. In the movie, the group members did not want to relinquish their own interests and control for the benefit of the group.

There are other real-life examples of similar nuances of group development as in the movie; however, they do not have similar outcomes. For instance, during the early 1960s, tension between the Soviet Union and the United States was high, especially during the Cuban missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs invasion by the United States. However, the invasion was a failure, in part, because the planning was laden with misinformation and groupthink (Janis, 1982).

Several studies have been conducted to determine the influence of groupthink on the decision-making process and the quality of outcomes (Schafer & Crichlow, 2002; Postmes, Spears, & Cihangir, 2001). Although in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the dysfunctional process did not allow the group to really become cohesive, it did demonstrate the potential for flawed decisions.

Janis, I. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascoes (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Postmes, T., Spears, R., & Cihangir, S. (2001). Quality of decision making and group norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(6), 918–930.

Schafer, M., & Crichlow, S. (2002). The process-outcome connection in foreign policy decision making: A quantitative study building on groupthink. International Studies Quarterly, 46, 45–68.

 

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Case Study Design And Analysis

For this assignment, you will identify the main concepts and terms learned in this week’s online lectures and textbook readings, and create a fictional case study (may not be related to actual individuals).

You will use the following guidelines while writing your case study:

  • Background: You need to describe the demographics of individuals involved in the case study such as their age, gender, occupation, education, relationships, and family history.
  • The case story: You need to describe a scenario demonstrating a group of individuals engaged in groupthink.
  • Analysis of the case: You need to utilize the information learned from the online lectures and text readings to analyze the case study. Be specific in your analysis using supporting evidence from outside sources when needed.
  • Recommendations: You need to end the case study with your recommendations or suggestions you would have implemented in such a situation to assist in changing the individuals’ behavior.

Case Study Design and Analysis

Issues of Self in Social Psychology.html

Issues of Self in Social Psychology

“Self-esteem is a person’s overall self-evaluation or sense of self-worth” (Myers, 2008). 

What is self-worth? Is there a way to objectively state you are worth a specific amount? How do you define your worth in terms of U.S. cultural norms? You may define your worth by the money you make or by the things you own. Why would you want a cell phone that can play movies and a 54-inch flat-screen high-definition television to get the movie theater feel? There is some relevance to the old adage “Keeping up with the Jones’s,” partly because you are defined by the extrinsic values of what you can see, feel, and touch.

See linked document for an example of people’s perceptions of self-worth

Most people relate self-esteem with what they see, feel, or touch. However, self-esteem is not really what can be measured in such a concrete manner. Self-esteem forms a basis of who you are. Although self-esteem can fluctuate, it remains somewhat apart from life stressors. It is only when you are at the either extreme of self-esteem that you may have a dysfunctional reaction to events. For instance, in the movie Fun with Dick and Jane, Dick realized he was losing the material things he enjoyed so much. In such a situation, he should have been in a bleak mood, almost depressed. However, this was not the case. Dick’s self-esteem was high to the extent he could adapt (albeit illegally and inappropriately) to his life stressors.

Self-esteem is one part of many factors that determine how an individual will react to a given situation. However, self-esteem may be too abstract a term to be measured or at least defined in objective terms. A better way to examine self-worth is to examine your perceptions of your competency in accomplishing a task. 

See linked documents for information on Self-Efficacy and Locus of Control.

Eden Alternative (2008). Mission, vision, values. Retrieved from http://www.edenalt.org/mission-vision-values
Myers, D. (2008). Social psychology (9th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Additional Materials

View the PDF transcript for Example of an Individuals Perception of Self-Esteem

View the PDF transcript for Locus of Control

 View the PDF transcript for Self-Efficacy


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media/week1/SUO_PSY3010 Example of an Individuals Perception of Self-Esteem.pdf

Example of an Individual’s Perception of
Self-Esteem

PSY3010 Social Psychology

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Example of an Individual’s Perception of Self-Esteem

Issues of Self in Social Psychology

Example of an Individual’s Perception of Self-Esteem:

In the moving Fun with Dick and Jane (the 1977 version, dick and Jane are enjoying a good life, living in a
large house with a swimming pool and a perfect lawn. Dick suddenly loses his job, and everything is
mortgaged. Dick and Jane are left with no money and no way of keeping up with the lifestyle they are
accustomed to. What they seem to find most troubling is how to keep up the appearance of still having
everything. As the moving progresses, Dick and Jane begin stealing to get back the lifestyle they are
used to. Focus of the movie: The movie doesn’t demonstrate the realities and struggles of losing a job—
it’s supposed to be a comedy. What is does focus on is an individual’s unrealistic perception of what
defines self-worth.

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media/week1/SUO_PSY3010 Locus of Control.pdf

Locus of Control

PSY3010 Social Psychology

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Locus of Control

Issues of Self in Social Psychology

Imagine you are a professional baseball player standing with a bat in hand and ready to hit the next pitch.
The pitch is thrown, you swing, and you miss. Strike one. What thoughts come to your mind the moment
you miss the strike? Do you feel you missed the strike because:

 The sun was in your eyes.
 Your luck was bad; you might get a second chance to do it right.
 You hesitated too long, gripped the bat up too far, or decided to wait for the right hit.

If you feel it was the sun or just bad luck, then you have an external locus of control. If you realize you
need to improve your swing and make the right hit, then you have an internal locus of control.

It is important for our well-being that we perceive a sense of control in our lives. Most of us have some
sense of an internal and external locus of control. As a result, we tend to take responsibility for our actions
in most situations and strive to change or improve when needed. Our locus of control depends on
circumstances.

In reality, most believe our behavior is controlled by internal and external forces. With an
External Locus of Control, you believe your behavior is controlled by fate, luck, or behaviors of
others. With an Internal Locus of Control, you feel your behavior is in your own control. One of
the best ways of perceiving an external locus of control is to believe in a higher power and to
have faith in that power to guide our actions.

Just like most theoretical explanations of behavior, extreme examples of a locus of control are those
requiring further explanation.

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media/week1/SUO_PSY3010 Self-Efficacy.pdf

Self-Efficacy

PSY3010 Social Psychology

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Self-Efficacy

Issues of Self in Social Psychology

What is Self-Efficacy?

What does self-efficacy do?

Self-efficacy influences:

The choices you make
The effort you put to accomplish a task
The amount of persistence when confronting obstacles

Where does self-efficacy come from?

Self-efficacy comes from:

Your experience
Your persuasion
Your psychological state

Self-efficacy is the “sense that one is competent and effective” (Myers, 2008). Unlike self-esteem, self-
efficacy seems to be a better indicator of how an individual will act in each situation. Self-efficacy is
derived from an individual’s experiences and is conditioned by the events occurring at the time. This
means that your level of self-efficacy, in part, is based on your confidence in your abilities to accomplish a
task successfully. The complexity and novelty of the task affects your level of confidence in accomplishing
the task—in other words, your level of self-efficacy.

Do you feel the belief that the mere realization that you can do something makes all the difference?
Certainly not. The actual difference depends on how much control you have on the outcome. For
instance, you might consider yourself a competent employee, but the feeling of cultural and sexual
discrimination and your age, gender, and appearance may force you to think your prospects of success
are not good.

PSY3010 Social Psychology

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Self-Efficacy

Issues of Self in Social Psychology

“Self-efficacy beliefs provide the foundation for human motivation, well-being, and personal
accomplishment. This is because unless people believe that their actions can produce the outcomes they
desire, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties” (Pajares, 2002).

How does Self-Efficacy Differ from Self-Concept?

Self-Efficacy Self-Concept

Self-efficacy is a content-specific
assessment of competence to perform
a specific task or a range of tasks in a
given domain

Self-concept is a cognitive appraisal,
integrated across various dimensions
that individuals attribute to themselves,
typically accompanied by self-evaluative
judgment of self-worth (self-esteem)

Self-efficacy believes in the judgment of
confidence. It is context-specific,
domain-specific, and task-specific. It is
made and used in reference to some
type of goal. For instance, “Can I do
this?”

Self-concept believes in the judgment of
self-worth. It is neither context-
sensitive, nor domain-specific and task-
specific. It is independent of goal. For
instance, “Who am I? How do I feel?”

The future directions in self-efficacy research:

 The generality of self-efficacy beliefs

 Implications related to strength and accuracy

 Sources

 The casual predominance of self-efficacy

 Teacher efficacy

 Self-efficacy and career choices

 The confidence gap in mathematics, science, and technology

 Developmental perspective

 Self-efficacy, race, and ethnicity

 Collective efficacy

 From research to practice

PSY3010 Social Psychology

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Self-Efficacy

Issues of Self in Social Psychology

References

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp.

71–81). New York: Academic Press.

Myers, D. (2008). Social psychology (9th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Pajares, F. (2002).Overview of social cognitive theory and of self-efficacy. Retrieved from

http://www.emory.edu/education/mfp/eff.html

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Case Study Design and Analysis

Group and Cultural Issues.html

Group and Cultural Issues

You are a member of a larger social group with cultural norms and traditions. In society, your relationships influence how you perceive yourself. This influence makes your perceptions of self-dynamics subject to change, which is important to keep in mind when discussing the concepts of persuasion, obedience, and conformity. For instance, when you observe an individual over time, you realize the individual does not act in exactly the same way, even in similar circumstances.

 There are many confounding variables that modulate an individual’s behavior and the intensity of the individual’s actions. For instance, you are at home working while listening to your favorite band on the radio. You may bob your head and sing along with the music, but for the most part, you can concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Now, what if you are at a live concert with the same band playing the same song? Do you think you would be quietly bobbing your head, or would you be yelling and whooping with the rest of the crowd? You would undoubtedly be doing the latter. Being part of a group does have a significant influence on an individual’s behavior. This is the reason social psychologists are interested in the events and the influence group dynamics have on behavior.

Let’s understand social psychology by examining how you perceive yourself.

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Case Study Design and Analysis

Introduction to Social Psychology.html

Introduction to Social Psychology

What is Social Psychology?

 

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior.  Social psychology expands on this definition of psychology to examine what influences an individual’s mind and behavior.

 While studying social psychology, the first question arising in your mind will be, “Is social psychology just the study of psychology (the study of the mind and behavior) combined with sociology (the study of human society and the dynamics of social phenomena)?” The answer to this question is that social psychology neither focuses entirely on an individual’s behavior nor focuses just on understanding society as a whole. Social psychology is the study of how we think, influence, and relate to one another (Myers, 2008).

View the PDF transcript for  A social psychology perspective on behavior

We are social beings. The majority of us are part of a series of expanding relationships, ranging from friends and families to groups and organizations. The influences of others alter our perceptions of ourselves, as well as influence our overall behavior. Therefore, we tend to speak and think in words learned from others. Does this mean our relationships shape our beliefs and attitudes, or do our belief system and our attitudes shape our relationships?

We enter new relationships all the time and bring into them our preconceived notions and mindsets, either cultivating or terminating the relationships. The old adage “Opposites attract each other” is not true in the case of social psychology. We, as social beings, tend to seek out individuals and groups fitting our self-perceptions and attitudes. However, this does not mean we never change. In spite of different attitudes and beliefs, we tend to adapt ourselves to strengthen our relationships. For example, when a couple gets married, both partners alter their beliefs and attitudes to fit into the relationship.

Myers, D. (2008). Social psychology (9th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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PSY3010_Social Psychology

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A Social Psychology Perspective on Behavior

Behavior is an action resulting from a series of decisions you make on how to act in a particular
situation or condition. Social psychologists focus on the factors influencing an individual’s
decisions on how to act.

• Social Thinking: How do you perceive yourself and others?

• Social Influence: How do others influence your behavior?

• Social Relations: How do social norms influence your behavior?

Case Study Design And Analysis

Evaluating case studies is a common way to demonstrate concepts and terms used in courses. A usual assignment would ask you to read a case study and evaluate the situation based on what you learned from your course and text readings. However, for this assignment, each week you will identify the main concepts and terms learned in the week’s online lectures and textbook readings and create a fictional case study (do not relate this to actual individuals).

Case Study Design And Analysis

Case Study Design and Analysis

For this assignment, you will identify the main concepts and terms learned in this week’s online lectures and textbook readings and create a fictional case study (may not be related to actual individuals).

You will use the following guidelines while writing your case study:

  • Background: You need to describe the demographics of individuals involved in the case study such as their age, gender, occupation, education, relationships, and family history.
  • The case story: You need to describe a scenario using third person in which individuals have joined a nonreligious cult or group prescribing self-destructive behaviors.
  • Analysis of the case: You need to utilize the information learned from the online lectures and text readings to analyze the case study. Be specific in your analysis using supporting evidence from outside sources when needed.
  • Recommendations: You need to end the case study with your recommendations or suggestions you would have implemented in such a situation to assist in changing the behavior of the individuals involved in the case study.

Submission Details:

  • Support your responses with examples.
  • Cite any sources in APA format.

Case Study Design and Analysis

Path of Persuasion.html

Path of Persuasion

The Path of Persuasion

The path of persuasion parallels the basic communication model with emphasis on the importance of the method used and how attentive the receiver is to the message.

Sender—> Delivery Method—> Message—> Attention to Message—> Receiver

Sender: The question is, “How could the sender, as public speaker, friend, family member, or infomercial host, send a message to persuade you to do something?”

Delivery Method: If the sender does not transmit the message effectively, there is little chance of persuasion. The delivery method is important and depends on the message. Face-to-face communication may be the best way to deliver a message from an emotional, cognitive, or intellectual level. Delivering a message using print media is good if time is required to evaluate and understand the message. Mass media is also effective in delivering persuasive messages.

Attention to Message: The receiver must be receptive. If the receiver is uninterested, he/she is less likely to be persuaded even using the peripheral route (indirect cues like the speaker’s charisma and expertise). The receiver must be attentive to process the message and decide.

Receiver: Target marketing is concerned with both the focus of the message and who receives it. Marketing strategies are targeted toward a specific demographic, depending on the message, the time and the place where the message is sent. For example, consider a commercial for a fast-food restaurant. At 8 a.m., the commercial shows an egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich. At 1 p.m., we see customers served a nutritious lunch. In the evening, the commercial targets young people staying up late and needing that extra something.

Depending on the receiver’s demographics you may see a different message. The intent is to match message to receiver to create a better chance of persuasion.

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Case Study Design and Analysis

Persuasion.html

Persuasion

To be effective, a persuasive message can take one of two routes, central or peripheral. The central route to persuasion is direct, where an individual is aware of the issues and actively seeks to change or not change behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs of other individuals or groups. The peripheral route to persuasion is indirect, where individuals or groups are influenced by incidental cues.

When discussing the routes to persuasion, the question that arises is, which of the two routes is more effective? In social psychology, what is more fascinating is how people are persuaded by the peripheral, or indirect, route. Let’s discuss a study conducted by Gardner (2005) that revealed that even seemingly minor and innocuous cues, such as a Post-it note on a questionnaire, can increase the desired results.

Gardner conducted a series of studies to analyze how persuasive a Post-it note can be if attached to a survey.  For each of the studies, he used different questionnaires comprising research questions based on the manipulated variables.

In the first study, Gardner randomly distributed three different questionnaires to participants (150 full-time faculty members). The first questionnaire was a survey accompanied by a handwritten Post-it note that requested completion of the survey.  The second questionnaire was a survey with a handwritten message on the cover letter, requesting completion, and the third questionnaire was a cover letter only (control condition).

The results revealed that of the participants who returned the completed surveys, the majority were those who had received the Post-it note.

Although the return rate of the questionnaires was much lower (with a common return rate of 30 percent as a typical acceptance rate for some surveys), what made this study interesting was its potential applicability of persuading individuals who received surveys (especially mail surveys) to complete them.

Garner, R. (2005). Post-it note persuasion: A sticky influence. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15(3), 230–237.

 

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Case Study Design and Analysis

Persuasion.html

Persuasion

Routes of a Persuasive Message

Myers (2008) mentions two routes a persuasive message can take to be effective, the central and the peripheral route.

Central Route: This route implies the audience or receiver of the message is attentive to the message and readily evaluates the pros and cons of the message.

 For example, you need to replace your old car that is no longer drivable. Although you prefer purchasing a fuel-efficient machine, you also want the new car to fit your personality and be of your preferred color.

 When you go to an automobile dealer, the salesperson informs you they have a wonderful, low mileage used vehicle giving 33 miles per gallon. However, the car is not of your preferred color. You look at the good price and weigh the deal versus getting the color you wanted. You eventually choose to go with the car that the salesperson offered.

Peripheral Route: This route implies the audience is influenced by superficial clues rather than paying attention to the message.

For example, you are invited to the fifteenth anniversary of your local car dealer. You attend the anniversary party but do not plan to buy a car. While eating your third bratwurst you realize that you won a 24-inch television in the lucky draw organized and would also get a 25 percent discount off the list price on any of the used vehicle you buy from the dealer.

While being congratulated by everyone you feel happy and lucky to have won. You think, “This was such a great day, and they were so nice with the food, and I also won the television. I guess I should think about replacing my old car. I think it would be good idea to buy a car from this dealer.”

Myers, D. (2008). Social psychology (9th ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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Case Study Design and Analysis

Persuasion-Product Placement.html

Persuasion-Product Placement

One of the subtlest issues in persuasion is related to product placement. Currently, most movies are involved in product endorsement. For instance, the movie Transformers (2007 release) endorsed General Motors (GM)—throughout the movie, the autobots transformed from GM vehicles. Similarly, the movie Back to the Future endorsed Pepsi, and Demolition Man endorsed Taco Bell as being the only fast-food restaurant to survive the restaurant war.

Product placement works primarily on the premise that a person’s memory of a product is reinforced by exhibiting the product in a scene in a movie, television program, or news program that is, hopefully, associated with a positive memory. However, several people consider product placement in a movie, television program, or news program a distraction from entertainment.

Cowley and Barron (2009) described the objective of product placement as “the process to generate positive associations toward the placed brand, resulting in a positive shift in brand attitude” (p. 89).

Does product placement always have a positive persuasive effect?

Expert’s Opinion

The study conducted by Cowley and Baron examined different levels of product placement and the attitudes of viewers with regard to those placements.  The results revealed that too much product placement seemed to send a message of overt persuasion, causing the viewers to actually have a negative view of the product.  Future studies of this phenomenon may also reveal an influence of the potential overuse of product placement and its perceived negative connotation on the quality of a movie.

Cowley, E., & Barron, C. (2008). When product placement goes wrong. Journal of Advertising, 37(1), 89–98.

 

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